- As the WordPress 6.1 development goes on, one of the biggest expected changes on this version, WebP by default, keeps causing controversies.
- WebP by default will deliver enable websites better compress their images to save bandwidth; which effectively improves the performance.
- Because of the downsides of WebP such as additional storage and extra computing resource requirements when uploading images, the development paused for additional research.
WebP image file type, which can vastly reduce the bandwidth required by the photos on websites was planned to be added to WordPress for a while. In our last article for WebP support, we shared the news about the feature being merged into WordPress Core for the 6.1 release. However, the development is now paused again.
“This patch is premature”
We shared the first news about the WebP by default in the middle of April this year as there was a possibility to add this feature in a future WordPress release. Then the WordPress team had to revise the plan because of concerns regarding additional storage requirements for the feature. Then it was merged for the 6.1 version of WordPress. However, in the last week, WordPress lead developer Andrew Ozz has delivered some objections on a ticket as follows:
« Like @MatthiasReinholz, @eatingrules, and others I think this approach is perhaps lacking. Why would there be twice as many image files taking up a lot of extra space when half of them will never ever be used anywhere?
IMHO a better approach would be to just make all image sub-sizes WEBP. If JPEGs are indeed needed, these can be generated on-the-fly as needed. There is no point in clogging the web server’s storage with all these useless files.
On the other hand, if the WEBP file sizes are actually larger than the JPEGs, that would probably mean that better tools are needed, and this patch is premature. »
One of the Google-sponsored committers of WordPress core, Adam Silverstein has responded as the resources required for generating mime images while uploading an image will drastically increase, however, while serving those images, the required resources will also drop down. Ozz sees an issue there since he thinks image uploads will start failing on limited servers and adds that he sees this as “unacceptable”.
After many conversations, the Performance team of WordPress has decided to pause committing to WebP by default and they will do some additional research about those concerns. We will update you about this issue in the coming days/weeks.
Click here to read the full conversation about the WebP by default feature