You don't need to search very far to
find a GIF animation tool -- there seem to be scores of them
available. Regardless of the tool you choose, the interface is
basically the same. Tools tend to differ somewhat in the degree to
which they are able to optimize (shrink the file size of) of the
resulting graphic. The following sections provide an overview of the
most popular and/or recommended tools.
23.4.1. Applications That Include GIF Animation Tools
GIF animation tools are built in or bundled with many popular
graphics applications, eliminating the need to jump between different
- Macromedia Fireworks (Mac and Windows)
Macromedia Fireworks was designed specifically for the creation of
web graphics. It supports multiple layers that can be converted to
multiple animation frames. Among other features are automatic
super-palette optimization and the ability to perform LZW
optimization. For more information, see Macromedia's site at
- Adobe ImageReady (Mac and Windows)
Adobe ImageReady is a tool (bundled with Photoshop 5.5 and higher)
especially for preparing and optimizing web graphics. It includes a
GIF animation tool that converts layers into frames and allows easy
layer editing. ImageReady 3 offers advanced optimization methods for
making the smallest possible animations. For more information, see
Adobe's site at http://www.adobe.com.
- Animation Shop & Paint Shop Pro (Windows only)
Animation Shop is a tool that comes bundled with the latest version
of Paint Shop Pro, an inexpensive and powerful graphics creation
application from JASC Software, Inc. For more information, see
JASC's web site at http://www.jasc.com.
23.4.2. GIF Animation Utilities
The following are just a few dedicated tools for creating animated
GIF files. For an extended list and a description of their features,
see the article on GIF animation in WebReference.com (http://www.webreference.com/dev/gifanim/).
- GIFmation 2.3 (Mac and Windows)
This is commercial software from BoxTop Software that comes highly
recommended by web developers. It features sophisticated
palette-handling options and a bandwidth simulator. It also uses the
efficient "frame differencing" method (discussed later in
this chapter) for optimizing animations significantly better than its
competition. GIFmation costs $49.95 and is available at http://www.boxtopsoft.com.
- GifBuilder 0.5 (Mac only)
developed by Yves Piguet, is the old standby for creating animated
GIFs on the Macintosh. It's freeware that's easy and
intuitive to use. Its method of optimization, although adequate, is
not as efficient as some other programs. It is available fordownload at http://www.mac.org/graphics/gifbuilder/.
- Ulead GIF Animator 5.0 (Windows only)
Ulead's GIF Animator features wizards for quickly and easily
constructing animations, 200 levels of undo, pixel-level
optimization, built-in transition and animation effects, a plug-in
architecture for adding new animation modules, and support for AVI
and QuickTime videos and layered Photoshop files. Download a preview
copy from http://www.ulead.com.
Registration is $44.95.
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