Loomio

Officially Support Animated GIF avatars?

ST
Sean Tilley Public Seen by 79
G

goob started a proposal Tue 12 Mar 2013

Officially support animated GIFs, with opt-out Closed Wed 10 Apr 2013

Outcome
by goob Tue 25 Apr 2017

There seems to be (qualified) support for the principle of supporting GIF animations in avatars and posts. Next step: look into how this might be accomplished, and whether it's technically feasible to do it in a way which works well for the network.

As seems to be the majority wish in the discussion so far:

  • provide proper support for using animated GIFs in posts, avatars etc.
  • provide users with the option to disable all animated images in their user preferences.

This seems to be the best solution which pleases both those who like animated GIFs and those who don't.

I'd suggest voting on this proposal and implementing what is voted for as soon as possible, and then deciding about other formats at a later date.

Results
Agree - 12
Abstain - 12
Disagree - 12
Block - 12
13 people have voted (8%)
G

goob
Agree
Tue 12 Mar 2013

M

matl
Abstain
Tue 12 Mar 2013

RF

Rasmus Fuhse
Agree
Wed 13 Mar 2013

The users want it - just give it.

F

Flaburgan
Agree
Wed 13 Mar 2013

Anything which stays in is ok for me.

IGM

Ivan Gabriel Morén
Agree
Wed 13 Mar 2013

Obviously people like them, and there are cool, arty ones too. Option to disable will be loved. I hope that the solution also will, in some way, involve that grayzone feature; hiding them until user makes an active choice to see them in action! :)

PG

Paul Greindl
Agree
Fri 15 Mar 2013

Of course, what would else happen to all the kittens... :O

L

L3MNcakes
Agree
Fri 15 Mar 2013

So long as I can disable, I see no problem with this. =)

DU

[deactivated account]
Agree
Fri 22 Mar 2013

I'm in for this, as long as with it, there comes an option to disable all flashing left and right completely.

TS

Tom Scott
Agree
Mon 25 Mar 2013

Get a better computer if your browser can't support GIFs!! #yolo ;-)

T

theradialactive
Agree
Tue 26 Mar 2013

I hope there will be also a "Click-to-play" feature like on makr.io, if I really want to see a gif.

DU

[deactivated account]
Agree
Tue 26 Mar 2013

BB

Brent Bartlett
Agree
Sun 31 Mar 2013

H

hewiak
Agree
Tue 9 Apr 2013

innovation and user choice are what it's all about!

BB

Brent Bartlett Fri 21 Sep 2012

I think it's okay, as long as users can turn them off. It could get pretty...distracting.

(Shutting off GIFs should be granular. I don't want "all GIFs animated" or "no GIFs animated". I can see wanting GIFs to animate in posts, but not in avatars.)

F

Flaburgan Fri 21 Sep 2012

Just like Brent.

JH

Jonne Haß Fri 21 Sep 2012

So I'll play the counterpart :P

Ew! Animated GIFs! Gross! Okay seriously: There are like 1% beautiful or useful animated GIFs. I'll happily click on a link for them. But I wouldn't like to see even those 1% as profile pictures. It is just distracting. There are good reasons and where never officially specified nor got a CSS counterpart. You can't tell me you can ignore any change in your view. Those that are reactions to your actions are just quicker processed, all require attention. It's a reflex everybody has to pay attention to movements and believe me, you wouldn't want to live without it (nor could you very long). It just disrupts your reading flow.

Now I remember the time we let them trough and everybody tried it. So awful.

JH

Jonne Haß Fri 21 Sep 2012

Okay bug in loom.io found, stuff in angle brackets just gets stripped. "…There are good reasons blink and marquee were never officially…"

FS

Florian Staudacher Fri 21 Sep 2012

we have this discussion in an issue on github, too.
https://github.com/diaspora/diaspora/issues/3165
there we also got a link to a js snippet, which replaces gifs with a static canvas
http://userscripts.org/scripts/review/80588

Maybe this in combination with a user setting for default behaviour might be a good compromise.

G

goob Fri 21 Sep 2012

I hate animated GIFs above almost all things.* As Jonne says, perhaps 1% are decent. A lot of them are so lurid and jerky that they actually make me feel ill (I have health issues exacerbated by things moving like this in front of my eyes).

Unfortunately, animated GIFs seem to appear to some people as a 'complete package', so they post them one after another with no comment, so there is no useful communication (as far as I see it) and they act as a junk stream. I noticed the same happening on Makrio - lots of people posting animated GIFs with no remixing - as though the GIF is the total extent of their communication. It held no interest for me.

I realise some people might want to communicate this way, and I'm not advocating banning them (although it might make sense to leave Makrio for this form of communication), but please, don't add proper support for them until you've added an option for users to switch off all animations by default.

Or, leave it as it is now - so that only a still frame is shown in the stream, with a symbol indicating that it is an animation, until you click on it, at which point the animation starts. That leaves it up to the end user whether or not to see the animation. (It would be useful to add the facility to click on the animation a second time to stop it again, though.)

*Hyperbole, in case anyone didn't realise.

JR

Jason Robinson Fri 21 Sep 2012

Yeah I'm for defo going to vote against any proper support for animated gifs in profile avatars unless there is a user setting to turn them off :)

For posts it's different - there they are part of the content. But I can see some people wanting to block those as well and I'd vote for that. As long as it doesn't make rendering the stream heavier than it is.

DU

[deactivated account] Wed 26 Sep 2012

please: don't allow animated GIF avatars, if you don't want to look like crappy myspace.

JH

Jonne Haß Sun 21 Oct 2012

The reason why we should even put effort in closing that hole that allows to upload them: https://joindiaspora.com/u/jonnypirat

G

goob Sun 21 Oct 2012

Ugh. Just when I thought I couldn't hate animated GIFs any more than I did before. That's a crime against good taste, if not against humanity itself.

H

hewiak Wed 24 Oct 2012

Folks put a lot of their personality into their avatars–the good, the bad and the ugly–and it certainly expresses the 'freedom' side of D*, but having both user level options: 'turn off .gif avatars', 'turn off all .gif' would be great.

JR

Jason Robinson Thu 25 Oct 2012

+1 for support for gifs and +1 for choice for not having them - then we fill freedom AND usability

ST

Sean Tilley Fri 21 Sep 2012

Before you say "Ew! GIFs! Gross!", hear me out. A lot of our users are able to have animated GIF avatars, and more than a few of them are actually kind of cool. Loads of animated GIFs are on the stream already, and it seems like something that users really like. However, we've never really explicitly supported them, often users just upload a Gif with a changed file extension.

Keep in mind also that Twitter is officially banning them, see here: http://m.gizmodo.com/5945074/twitter-just-outlawed-animated-gif-avatars

Not all users are going to like it, so here's what I'm wondering: would it be useful to adopt animated avatars by default, with a user-level option to turn them off if it slows down a user's page load too much?

S

sometwo Sat 9 Mar 2013

I would also suggest H264 as a possible format. It is much smaller than .gif and provides much higher quality.

ST

Sean Tilley Sun 10 Mar 2013

Well, I'm not sure that h264 is the best candidate. It is not an open format, and I'm not sure we'd want to have small videos for user avatars.

S

Shmerl Mon 11 Mar 2013

Dependency on H.264 is definitely not suitable, since it's a proprietary codec. In general, animation is resource hungry, and supporting it in avatars can be taxing, especially in the mobile view.

S

sometwo Mon 11 Mar 2013

How about a file size limit?

Allow as most extensions as possible, but limit them all by a maximum file size.

RF

Rasmus Fuhse Tue 12 Mar 2013

Okay half a year ago I didn't have any opinion in this or was just undecided. Now my point is (if this is still an active discussion): listen to the users. They want to have GIFs, because they want to have some kind of multimedia going on. Static content is so much 80's.

Don't get me wrong. I know that a lot of sites look creepy if they support animated GIFs like myspace. But to simply say no to an obvious user-wish (looking at tumblr, which is quite successful) is too easy. We need to find ways of displaying GIFs or other animated content nicely to the user. Probably we should make the GIF static at first and let it animate when the user hovers the mouse over it or touches it on the user's touch-device. Probably we also need some option to disable animated media entirely for the users, too. But please don't ignore the users and their most used features.

G

goob Tue 12 Mar 2013

I think it's more accurate to say that some users want animated GIFs. Not all of them.

RF

Rasmus Fuhse Tue 12 Mar 2013

You're right. Not all want them. For myself I never had a GIF-avatar and think it's silly. But I still think that this is a reasonable feature for a lot of users. My timeline in Diaspora is full of animated GIFs, although I regularly unfollow people who are posting too many too large GIFs.

G

goob Tue 12 Mar 2013

I'm the same. That's why I think it makes sense to enable animated GIFs but give users the option to disable them in user preferences.

Everyone, there seems to be consensus on this, shall we have a proposal and a quick vote?

S

Shmerl Tue 12 Mar 2013

Why specifically gifs by the way? Gif is an inferior format for all purposes. If you want animation as vector - better use SVG, that's the right way to do it. If want animation as raster - use video as others proposed. WebM with no sound should be a good candidate.

S

Shmerl Tue 12 Mar 2013

I.e. video can be even GPU accelerated. I doubt animated GIFs specifically are. So performance wise small video file of the same size will be preferable.

G

goob Tue 12 Mar 2013

Because GIFs seem to be the most commonly posted animated image format, and what was 'brought to the table' in this discussion by Sean (and what was being discussed in Github as well). I'm certainly not meaning to rule other formats out, simply saying 'let's deal with this one issue now and look at others later'.

G

goob Tue 12 Mar 2013

As I said below, I hate GIFs (and animated images in general), but it's what people seem to be using at the moment.

S

Shmerl Tue 12 Mar 2013

Commonly used doesn't mean it should be proliferated and burden D* users with it (if its performance is inferior). If user wants to go out of the way and create an animated avatar (creating animation requires some skill), user can figure out how to create a webm video. If not, someone can put a tutorioal. I don't see a problem with offering a good option which isn't common, and not offering a common bad option.

S

Shmerl Tue 12 Mar 2013

I think such setup can work out:

  1. Give an option to add WebM avatar (limit resolution and file size, somehow limit it to no sound - needs to be researched how to automate that).
  2. If browser can't show video - fall back to showing static image for avatar, otherwise show that WebM in a video tag.
JH

Jonne Haß Tue 12 Mar 2013

Can we have a longer voting time for such a controversial topic please?

JH

Jonne Haß Tue 12 Mar 2013

So what technologies are out there to accomplish the proposal? I think we should investigate that first.

F

Flaburgan Wed 13 Mar 2013

@shmerl support video is something completely different. Here we simply have a tag and users used it to put gif. We did not officially say that we support animated avatars because it can be too heavy for small servers / connections / mobiles. So if we want to officially support animated avatars, we have to put an option to podmins / users to display them or not.

We are far away than a feature which would request a tag. Too many problem : it's heavier than animated images, so it's worse for bad connections / servers, only the recent browsers support it, it's not the same codec for Chrome / Firefox (webm) than for Safari / IE (H264)... We have many things more important to do than implement video for avatars.

S

Shmerl Wed 13 Mar 2013

It's not different conceptually. Forget about tags for a moment. The concept is simple - animated avatars. First think whether we even want it or not. Let's say we do. How to implement it in efficient way and with sensible fallbacks?

it's heavier than animated images

This is very questionable. If you want to research it seriously, create a test case with 50 animated gifs and 50 WebM videos of the same resolution and duration. Test the CPU utilization in both cases (when all are present on the page). Then you can have a conclusive understanding. My expectation - WebM will perform better CPU wise, but nothing is of course guaranteed. I wouldn't worry about crippled browsers like IE and Safari. They are still catching up for many things, and WebM support is one of them. They can have a static fallback if they can't play the video.

We have many things more important to do than implement video for avatars.

If so, you shouldn't be busy with animated gifs now as well, since it's the same thing, but with wrong tools.

So my view on this - either do things right (research, test, implement the video avatar with static fallback), or don't even bother with it until you have time.

S

Shmerl Wed 13 Mar 2013

However if this is just about "keep no limitations on img which potentially allows using SVG and GIF" - that's a different scope of the discussion.

F

Flaburgan Thu 14 Mar 2013

@shmerl

However if this is just about "keep no limitations on img which potentially allows using SVG and GIF" - that's a different scope of the discussion.

The beginning of the discussion was that.
About research of what we should do to correctly deal with that, I'd really prefer to focus on these things for the moment.

G

goob Thu 14 Mar 2013

Hi Jonne, I thought it was worth creating a proposal as the discussion had seemed to stall some time ago but there seemed a reasonable consensus for this one proposition. So I thought I'd create the proposal to focus our minds: is this actually a good proposal and should we vote for it. I'm quite happy for it to be shot down.

If you don't think that enabling animated GIFs is a good idea even as a short-term solution, please argue against it. I'm quite happy for my proposal to be shot down, and if I'm convinced it is not a good proposal, I'll change my vote.

I'm not trying to force us down any route; simply to provide a means to speed up the decision-making.

JH

Jonne Haß Thu 14 Mar 2013

This is another "do this!" proposal without any technical background. So I repeat my question:

What technologies are out there to accomplish the proposal?

I still don't like and that's my opinion and I'm going to vote on that. No further arguing required than I've already done. I just wanted to point out that we're voting on something while we have no idea how we can implement it.

And the second point is too directly what I said, 9 days isn't enough time IMO. Nothing meant to subversively to boycott the proposal. I mean what I say.

ST

Sean Tilley Thu 14 Mar 2013

Well, one way we could do it is programmatically with a bit of JavaScript. A quick search of StackOverflow brings this up. Making it work cross-browser is my only real concern here.

We could just call a variable from user settings asking whether the user enabled for gifs avatars to animate, if true, gif avatars are animated, if false, they simply stay as the first frame of the gif animation.

RF

Rasmus Fuhse Sat 16 Mar 2013

Sean, javascript in the browser is a nice approach. If this is not possible to make this happen to all browsers OR if this is not performant to the user, we can also create a dynamic URL that flattens a given GIF via ImageMagick into the first frame and delivers this image to the user, who does not want to see animated GIFs. This would have been my first guess.

JR

Jason Robinson Sun 17 Mar 2013

Personally I think javascript should be avoided here and the user choice respected when offering information from the server. What about when a user uploads a profile pic and if it is an animated gif - another version is created which only contains the first frame. Then depending on user settings the correct version is offered.

How would this suit the way we store profile pics and federate them?

Also the approach by @rasmusfuhse sounds good to me as well.

JR

Jason Robinson Sun 17 Mar 2013

Edit; the proposal mentions not profile pics but also posts, sorry didn't notice that. I don't really see why we should support removing animation from gifs in posts. It's directly messing with and modifying content posted by another user - and personally I find that something that shouldn't be done on the app side.

DU

[deactivated account] Sun 17 Mar 2013

hm, if what Jason says is true I find it a bad idea to mix those two features in one proposal:

1) allow animated GIF avatars (which I disdain)
2) allow animated GIFs in user posts (which is fine for me)

RF

Rasmus Fuhse Sun 17 Mar 2013

Jason, you're right. GIFs in posts are user-content. But Diaspora is a viewer to this content and I as a user I would expect that I can define what contents I am viewing and probably even how. The #nsfw tag is legally the same. I can define if I want to see #nsfw contents all the time or only if I click on them. This could be a nice blueprint for the logic to display animated GIFs.

JR

Jason Robinson Sun 17 Mar 2013

The NSFW tag isn't really modifying the way the post is shown - it isn't shown at all until the user clicks. If animated gifs are flattened according to user settings, it could change the whole post.

Maybe a minor issue, but then I don't really have a problem with animated gifs in posts. In avatars to be honest I might even turn the block setting on myself - if it was enabled and animated gifs were officially allowed in profile images.

JR

Jason Robinson Sun 17 Mar 2013

But yeah, maybe these should be two proposals...

G

goob Sun 17 Mar 2013

If animated gifs are flattened according to user settings, it could change the whole post.

I don't mind that - it's what happens for me in Firefox in any case. What I absolutely would mind if it were possible for people to upload animations (either in avatars or posts) which it were not possible for me to disable by default.

Just a thought: I've just remembered that Makrio allows the posting of GIF animations, but these are displayed as a still image with a 'GIF' logo and a play button overlaid. See https://makr.io/front_page

Would it be possible to see if the code they have written to achieve this (which seems to work well) could be ported to Diaspora? Hopefully this would be a case where this would work.

I've just added a couple of weeks to the closing date of the proposal I started, in response to requests.

IGM

Ivan Gabriel Morén Mon 18 Mar 2013

I checked the makr.io code, and for me, it seems that they've simply provided each gif with a non-moving screenshot. From page source for example I got this and this picture. The non-moving images are provided with an attribute; "has_gif", and in this way the prevent the animations from showing instantly. Wouldn't recommend it for diaspora, for the happiness of the servers' sake.

IGM

Ivan Gabriel Morén Mon 18 Mar 2013

@seantilleycommunitymanager At least it works in Firefox, Chrome and Safari, I made a quick test and it looks just fine! Don't know if the canvas makes the site load slower as it has to do some image processing, but if the differences aren't that big it could totally be possible to implement this feature! :)

http://docs.babillage.org/diaspora/test_img.html

ST

Sean Tilley Mon 18 Mar 2013

@ivangabrielmorn Actually, this solution looks like a really good treatment for animated gifs in the stream. I'm not sure whether it would be best to put a play button on user avatars, though.

JR

Jason Robinson Mon 18 Mar 2013

No play buttons please - if we want to restrict please lets make it configurable for users. Not everyone hates animated gifs you know. I love them :)

IGM

Ivan Gabriel Morén Mon 18 Mar 2013

@jasonrobinson I love them too, at least some of them! Didn't you see that I chose such a cool one when I tested the code to place them within a positive context? ;)
And of course I think this should be an option, not the one-and-only default!
@seantilleycommunitymanager Haha, naah. But maybe a little pause button that stops all instances of the profile image when clicked and that only appears when the user hovers over the image? :)

G

goob Tue 19 Mar 2013

Perhaps animated avatars could be set to play once, rather than repeatedly, unless clicked on?

IGM

Ivan Gabriel Morén Tue 19 Mar 2013

If the proposal to the right's outcome is positive (allow GIFs and provide option to disable), this way of changing the default seems logical and easy-to-understand to me: http://docs.babillage.org/diaspora/option.jpg

Do you agree? :)

@goob But if the avatar is down the stream, you wouldn't see it animate at all. :(

S

Shmerl Tue 19 Mar 2013

I still hold that for animated avatars video should be used. Then you can control when it plays and how (with JavaScript). For gifs such control is non existent. It surely should be optional in a flexible way. I.e. without going deeply in some settings, there should be a trigger switch in the UI somewhere, which will dynamically enable / disable animation for those who care.

S

Shmerl Tue 19 Mar 2013

One can give user a way to upload several avatars for fallback (to cover lacking codecs support). Those who don't care to support all codecs / browsers will upload just 1 video avatar and one static avatar or static can be generated automatically from the first frame if it wasn't provided by the user.

TS

Tom Scott Mon 25 Mar 2013

It would make me really happy if other networks like Facebook and Twitter stole this idea/code from us and made opt-in GIFs available on their apps...

G

goob Fri 29 Mar 2013

Actually I'd really like the option to set default to hide any post containing an animated GIF, because I'm heartily sick of them and I can't think of any circumstances under which I'd be interested in viewing one.

L

L3MNcakes Wed 3 Apr 2013

I like the mockup from @ivangabrielmorn - Since there are really only two options though (animate / don't animate) I think we could make it simpler by using a checkbox as opposed to a drop-down.

So a prettier version of something like:

[ ] Animate gif avatars
[ ] Animate gif posts