Google launches Brotli, a new open source compression algorithm to speed up the web

Google today announced that it has released its Brotli lossless compression algorithm under an open-source Apache license on GitHub.

Benchmarks suggest that new algorithm outperforms its predecessor, Zopfli, which Google open-sourced in February 2013.

“While Zopfli is Deflate-compatible, Brotli is a whole new data format,” Zoltan Szabadka, a software engineer on Google’s compression team, wrote. “This new format allows us to get 20–26 percent higher compression ratios over Zopfli.”

Compression algorithms might seem like a joke out of Silicon Valley, but computer science researchers at many companies and academic labs have been working in the domain for decades. For Google, the Web is everything — ads across websites and the Google search engine provide the majority of the company’s revenue — and a faster Web can keep people browsing happily.

Brotli is written mostly in the C and C++ programming languages. Google has provided the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) with extensive documentation of its data format.

Naturally, Google would like to see people use it.

“The smaller compressed size allows for better space utilization and faster page loads,” Szabadka wrote. “We hope that this format will be supported by major browsers in the near future, as the smaller compressed size would give additional benefits to mobile users, such as lower data transfer fees and reduced battery use.”