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Image Compression SDK Technology and Your Applications

Image compression has become such a ubiquitous aspect of the digital world that the average person doesn’t give it much thought. Even when they encounter textbook compression problems, such as running out of space for photos on their phones, waiting on a slow-loading webpage, or working with an overly pixelated image, they may not consider how effective compression techniques could resolve these issues.

Today’s software developers, by contrast, spend a lot of time thinking about how to incorporate better compression solutions into their applications. That’s why they frequently turn to image compression SDKs to help their end users better manage large and highly-detailed image files.

The Enduring Need for Image Compression

Although advancements in hard drive technology and easily scalable cloud storage have reduced many traditional data management concerns, large image files can still pose significant challenges. Many organizations that can’t utilize cloud storage options for compliance reasons or find the cost of those platforms prohibitively high. 

While they may be able to add more on-premises storage easily enough, this option can also quickly become quite costly. Companies often need to procure much more storage than they may need on a day-to-day basis in order to meet redundancy requirements. Scaling physical storage also locks firms into burdensome equipment refresh cycles.

But simply storing images is only part of the challenge of data management. Large files are more difficult to move, even if an organization has a customized solution in place. If images can’t be shared quickly and easily through a secure platform, users may turn to riskier third-party applications.

Image compression alleviates these problems by reducing the overall size of image files. By compressing image files, organizations can maximize their storage potential and share files more easily. Image compression can also improve website and application performance by reducing the time it takes to load images. 

Although there are many different methods of compressing images, they all involve algorithms that use a variety of shortcuts to reduce the overall size of pixel data. In some instances, compression involves the elimination of image data, which can degrade the image quality and make it impossible to return to its original size (lossy or irreversible compression). Other techniques retain the original image data, but can’t achieve the same level of compression (lossless or reversible compression). 

Image Compression SDKs and Your Applications

While there are many compression options available in commercial imaging software, organizations often need the ability to compress image files within their core business applications without any external dependencies. Opening an image file with another program not only takes additional time and disrupts efficient workflow, but it also creates the potential for security risks and version confusion.

Consider, for instance, a medical provider that needs to send a high-resolution MRI scan to another provider. If the file is too large to deliver electronically, someone may try to get around the problem by using another program to compress the scan and then send it as an attachment over email or share it through a cloud platform. Suddenly, the confidential image file has been accessed by potentially vulnerable third-party applications, which creates a serious compliance issue. To make matters worse, the compressed image may not be associated with the patient’s file in the EHR system. And that’s not even getting in the question of whether or not the compression technique used damaged the image integrity!

An image compression SDK like ImageGear allows developers to integrate the ability to compress and convert image files into their applications without compromising security, efficiency, or quality. Optimized, standards-based compression libraries with support of formats like TIFF, PDF, PDF/A, JPEG 2000, JPEG, and DICOM deliver fast compression/decompression capabilities while ensuring that images remain high quality. 

The primary advantage of integrating image compression capabilities directly into an application is the lack of third-party dependencies. This is crucial for software that is gathering and managing image files because it doesn’t cause any workflow disruptions. With an image compression SDK integration, image files can be shrunk down to more manageable sizes programmatically, which aids significantly in automated processes. Since the images are being compressed entirely within the application, it’s also easier to maintain strict version and access control throughout the life cycle of the file.

Image Compression SDKs vs Open Source Solutions

Many developers turn to open source compression libraries when looking to integrate image compression features into their applications. While this often seems like an easy, low cost solution, open source codecs can lead to unforeseen problems over time. Since many of them are not actively maintained, troublesome bugs can go unresolved and security gaps can create serious privacy risks.

One infamous example of this problem involved the widely used “Cornell Codec,” one of the first open source libraries that supported lossless JPEG compression. Developed in 1994, it was quickly adopted by many healthcare applications that needed to compress high-resolution medical images like MIRIs, CT scans, and X-Rays. 

Unfortunately, the codec had a problem. When it compressed images into DICOM files (the industry standard used in medical imaging applications), it produced an error that made them unreadable when they were decompressed. Since the Cornell Codec was an open source solution embedded into numerous applications, the problem went unresolved for many years until Accusoft developed a code based workaround for our customers.

By choosing a well-supported image compression SDK like ImageGear for their application’s compression needs, developers can rest easier knowing that they’re deploying a tried and true solution that won’t create unexpected problems for their customers. Another benefit of a comprehensive image compression SDK is that it will provide a variety of compression libraries that can accommodate almost any file type and use case. ImageGear, for example, supports more than a dozen unique image compression types, including JPEG (lossy/lossless/progressive), RAW, ASCII, and Deflate.

ImageGear: More Than an Image Compression SDK

Image compression is just one of ImageGear’s many powerful document and image processing features. A versatile code-based solution, ImageGear allows developers to quickly integrate image conversion and cleanup features to their application along with editing, annotation, viewing, scanning, and printing capabilities. With support for a huge number of today’s leading document and image file formats as well as medical imaging support with ImageGear Medical, this SDK toolkit delivers the functionality developers need to get their applications to market faster. See what ImageGear can do for your application today by downloading a free trial.