Baked for speed!

Google releases Brotli compression algorithm as open source

Natali Vlatko
Bread image via Shutterstock

The Brotli compression algorithm engineered by Google has been open sourced in a bid to gain browser-wide adoption. This freshly prepared data format has been named after Swiss baked goods and outperforms its predecessor with fast pager loads.

Google have been on a long quest to make the Internet faster and their Brotli compression algorithm, released this week as open source, is aimed at fuelling our need for online speed. It has already been said to outperform its predecessor, the Zopfli compression algorithm, released in February 2013.

Zoltan Szabadka, software engineer with Google’s compression team, states that the new format of the Brotli algorithm allows them to get 20–26% higher compression ratios over Zopfli, which was released as Deflate-compatible in comparison. This kind of performance should hopefully address what Google is calling “modern compression needs”.

Google is keen to have browsers adopt the algorithm sooner rather than later in order to support WOFF 2.0 web fonts. Firefox, Opera and Chrome are already complying:

We hope that this format will be supported by major browsers in the near future, as the smaller compressed size would give additional benefits to mobile users, such as lower data transfer fees and reduced battery use.

Extensive documentation has been provided to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) detailing how the smaller compressed size allows for better space utilisation and faster page loads using a combination of the LZ77 algorithm and Huffman coding. The Brotli algorithm itself is written in a combination of C and C++.

While Brotli is slower in the compression stakes compared to what is currently available, its decompression speed is rather impressive. This efficiency for ‘compress once, decompress many times’ items will be great for companies utilising Big Data.

Of course, there’s always other uses to think about:

The name “Brotli” follows the Google tradition of naming their algorithms after Swiss baked goods. A brötli is a small bun of bread in Swiss German.

Natali Vlatko
An Australian who calls Berlin home, via a two year love affair with Singapore. Natali was an Editorial Assistant for (S&S Media Group).

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