File formats of the futureJun 19 2006
After reading Tantek write about file formats, I've been thinking about what will happen to file formats in decades or centuries from now. Tantek says,
"I feel quite confident storing files in the following formats: ASCII / "plain text" / .txt / (UTF8 only if necessary), mbox, (X)HTML, JPEG, PNG, WAV, MP3, MPEG"
I agree, for the short term. But will JPEG be around in a hundred years? What about MP3?
I think we can make some assumptions about the future. For example, disk space will continue to grow and get cheaper, and bandwidth will get faster and cheaper as well. This leads me to think that compressed lossy formats will disappear. Why store in a JPEG when a PNG or even RAW format will do? Why store in MP3 when a WAV will do?
Okay, I don't think we will necessarily store in the least compressed format. I think we will use a format which uses lossless compression, so that the sound/image doesn't change at all. It won't make sense to lose quality to gain disk space anymore.
For hyperlinked documents, I believe (X)HTML will stay around for a very, very long time. CSS can grow and change and add display functionality on top of HTML. Put does HTML need to change? Do we need anything more than headers and paragraphs, with span or div tags together with classes to accomplish anything not built into HTML? I don't believe so.
It will be interesting to watch formats and standards evolve over the coming years and decades. I think one day, people will look back at these times with a smile on their faces, enjoying our naivety in these early years as we try to figure everything out.