File Under: Glossary

Bitmap

A bitmap is a mapped array of pixels that can be saved as a file.

Both JPEG and GIF are bitmap graphic formats. Currently, the only other way to store an image is as a vector graphic. You can’t easily scale bitmap images, but you can control every single pixel and thus achieve many effects impossible in vector graphics. Conversely, vector formats offer advantages of scalability and lower bandwidth requirements. When you compress a bitmapped image, you suck out some of the visual information.

To bypass this, the portable network graphics format (or PNG, pronounced “ping”) was designed to store a single bitmap image for transmittal over computer networks without losing this data.