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Why do I need JPEG2000?

Assuming you are a developer, here are several reasons why you may want to add JPEG2000 support to your applications:

1. You are developing an image viewing program.

As JPEG2000 becomes more and more popular, more people will start using it. Eventually the new standard will supersede the old JPEG, which is so widespread now. So you may want to add JPEG2000 support to be up-to-date and to broaden your target audience. And this, of course, will give you a little advantage over your competition :-)

This applies to not only image viewers, but to any program that displays images – slide-show creation utilities, live-video software, photo-to-DVD converters, browsers, e-mail clients, image morphing programs, print programs, organizing programs, etc.

2. You are a game developer.

2.1 Program size and image quality

The Internet is the main (if not the only) distribution channel for small teams and independent software developers. With Valve's Steam technology, it is apparent that the Internet will become the major distribution channel even for the big players.

But not everyone has a T1 connection yet, and Web traffic is not free. So keeping your installation package size to the minimum is very important.

"CNET recently performed an analysis of their downloads, looking at a sample of files on their servers to determine what effect file size has on completed downloads. They discovered that file sizes under 10MB weren't a major factor in completion rate, ranking anywhere from 60 to 80 percent. When the files were more than 10MB, the completion rate degraded noticeably to well under 50 percent.

In order to maximize the chances of getting your software completely downloaded and installed by a prospective customer, you should aim to keep your file size under 10MB. Otherwise, it's difficult to get a sale unless your customers completely download the trial version of your product."
eSellerate Newsletter

In games, graphics usually take a significant part of the overall program size, and JPEG2000 allows you to reduce the amount and achieve better image quality. Artifacts in images look very unprofessional.

2.2 JPEG2000 features

Game developers might be also interested in some unique features of JPEG2000, not available in the old JPEG format:

 •  Alpha-channel. Now you can compress your pictures with the state-of-the-art compression technology and yet have the full transparency information preserved.

 •  Resolution levels. JPEG2000 images contain several reduced resolutions without duplicating any information. It is "built-in" as part of the structure of the new compression scheme. Imagine – you don't need to store several textures with various resolutions anymore! Now you can have only one picture of, say, 512 × 512 and then decode only 256 × 256 resolution if a user should prefer speed to quality, or a 64 × 64 thumbnail for mipmapping.

2.3 Novice game developers

If you're only starting out in the game development industry, you will probably need a file format to store your graphics anyway. Why not use the modern technology with its rich feature set and very good compression ratios? The main feature of J2K-Codec is simplicity of API and ease of implementation – so you may want to use it just as an image library. See J2K-Codec features below.

3. You are developing a screensaver.

In essence, modern screensavers are similar to games, except they are not interactive. All that was said about games applies equally to screensavers. Maybe even more, because people would rather tolerate a huge game than a huge screensaver.

4. You are working with JPEG2000 hardware.

The hardware chip will do all the encoding and now you need a fast JPEG2000 decoder do display live video. J2K-Codec has a special video decoding mode, which boosts performance at the expense of quality, removing interlacing as a side-effect.

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