Now animated GIF's are very passe, and I'm glad. Those old GIF laden sites were worse than modern MySpace.
I disagree. There was a certain innocence and enthusiasm about them that made them almost charming, or at least quaint. MySpace is just... bad taste.
- Any guesses?
You need the Google plugin for it to work on IE, but otherwise the newest versions of Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera & every browser that uses the rendering engine of one of these (i.e. practically every graphical browser) supports <canvas>.
It helps me to see that maybe the things I find as very important technology-wise, might be just as futile as an animated gif.
To make the long story short, I went to IRC (webmaster.com #ra2 - i think), people there introduced me to SSI. Then a few weeks later, they introduced me to Newspro (a few months/years later, it was renamed to Coranto).
It was a Geocities page and had one of those massive long URL's and may have even used an animated gif or too also!
It did have one use - if you were doing something "live" on the server, you could generate an image on the fly and send it, e.g. for self-updating graphs without reloading the page. After it fell out of fashion, it wasn't until Java that you could do that again.
Perl implementation: http://www.radzone.org/tutorials/animatep.html
O'Reilly notes on it from 1996: http://oreilly.com/openbook/cgi/ch06_06.html
In 1995 I had a site called the "Micro Movie Mini Multiplex" (MMMM). It originated as a collection of push animations. Push animation isn't used anymore, but it involved feeding individual animation frames through "server push", which means that a connection between the server and the client was kept alive while individual frames were fed through the connection. It was resource intensive, but when the site began it was the only way to do animation on the web. I collected every example I could find on the web and built a site that aggregated these animations. I tied the individual animations together through (what I thought was) clever commentary. The site was relatively popular (it was Spider's Pick of the Day, who remembers that?)
In December of 1995 I was searching the web for more push animations when I came across an unusual reference to a new form of animation. Netscape 2.0 was in beta, and it could handle a new form of animation. Someone had hacked the GIF image format, tweaking the interlacing so that individual frames were displayed at regular temporal intervals. There were only a handful of examples, but it was obvious to me that these "animated GIFs" were a major improvement over server push animations; you didn't need to keep a connection alive and, more interestingly, the animations could be treated like any other image... you could save the image and reuse it. I realized that these animated gifs would replace server push animations.
And people loved it. They saved the animated icons and put them on their own pages. For a very short time my site was the major supplier of animation for other people's webpages. I had given the GIFs somewhat distinctive names, so I was able to track their dispersal through Altavista searches (Altavista returned pages that contained images with specific filenames) and at one point, estimating the traffic on these pages, it occurred to me that my animations were seen by more people daily than any other animation in history.
I did all this anonymously and without monetary reward (which made sense, somehow, in the early days of the web). Eventually animated GIFs became commonplace, annoying even, and my anonymous 15 minutes of fame faded. But someday I'd like to record the moment for posterity, even if I have to do so in some forgotten thread on some community weblog.