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Super-easy automated image compression
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README.md

imagemin-merlin (aka Merlin)

Merlin is an extension of imagemin that makes it super-easy to automatically, efficiently compress GIF, JPG and PNG graphics.

It’s “super-easy” for two reasons:

  1. Setup is simple and there’s no confusion around what needs to be done how, where, when and why. Install, run, done – forever.

  2. Compression happens losslessly through standard settings. That’s explicitly regarded a benefit here not to worry about overly aggressive default optimization. (Further micro-optimization may happen separately.)

Installation and use

1) Install

Install Merlin in respective Node project:

npm i -D @sum.cumo/imagemin-merlin

2a) Set up manual optimization

For manual use, add the following in the scripts section of the project’s package.json:

{
  "scripts":{
    "imagemin": "imagemin-merlin"
  }
}

To ensure that all GIFs, JPGs and PNGs have at least been optimized once, it’s recommended to run Merlin manually right after installation: npm run imagemin.

There’s a --folder option that allows to set a particular folder for compression, different from the project root. For example, npm run imagemin -- --folder=static. The node_modules folder is ignored by default.

--dry is an optional parameter to run Merlin in “dry mode.” All changed files can then be inspected under /tmp/imagemin-merlin.

2b) Set up automatic optimization

For automated use Merlin should then be triggered through Git hooks or a related tool like Husky (npm i -D husky), for example on pre-commit. For that, using Husky as an example, the following may be added to package.json (main level):

"husky": {
  "hooks": {
    "pre-commit": "npm run imagemin -- --staged"
  }
},

The --staged parameter triggers a mode that watches GIF, JPG and PNG files in git diff and only compresses those files – that approach makes Merlin be quite efficient in operation. (Note that the folder parameter doesn’t work in staged mode.)

How does the output look like?

output

  • Green: The graphic has been optimized.
  • White: The graphic has not been changed.
  • Blue: The graphic had already been compressed further than the new result, and was therefore skipped.

How does Merlin work?

Merlin is a Node script that puts a little wrapper around imagemin-cli and the three losslessly compressing sub-packages imagemin-gifsicle, imagemin-optipng and imagemin-jpegtran.

Unless manual optimization over the project or subfolders is triggered, automated compression works through Git hooks that monitor whether a given change list includes image files. If it does, only those images are compressed where there is an improvement, so to prevent regressions and to be able to actually feed back the improved images to the underlying repository.

Through this approach, though still glossed over here, Merlin makes up for what’s missing or complicated in imagemin and related packages, namely easy, riskless, automated, resource-friendly “on site” optimization.

Why use Merlin?

(This is just a paraphrased remainder of earlier documentation, just left for the moment in case it makes anything more clear ☺️)

You can use Merlin if you need a simple, automatable, robust solution to compress images and to keep the compressed result in your repository (instead of only in the production environment).

That last piece is useful since Merlin compresses losslessly, so that there’s no risk that images suffer from quality issues after processing through Merlin. This kind of defensive base compression makes it rather obvious to also want to feed back compressed graphics into one’s source repository – which is why Merlin works the way it does

What does Merlin not do?

Merlin is no substitute for image fine-tuning and micro-optimization. That is really difficult to do in an automated fashion, because that type of compression requires weighing quality and performance, which is context-dependent. In its most extreme form, when maximum quality at maximum performance is required from each graphic, micro-optimization is even hard to do manually.

The point is: Micro-optimization still needs to be taken care of through complementary means, whether manually or through other tools (well including other packages from the imagemin family). Merlin simply solves the problem that images are checked in or go live that are not compressed at all.

What’s next?

Some new features we’re working on or think about:

  • Give the option to configure the underlying imagemin plugins (somewhat prepared for but not completed yet).
  • Observe .gitignore files when Merlin doesn’t run as --staged.
  • Offer an ignore parameter to filter undesired folders and files.
  • Support project structures in which the project’s .git folder is not at the same level as its package.json – at the moment, automatic mode doesn’t work in these cases.

Thoughts, suggestions, fixes? Please file an issue or send a pull request – thank you!

License

Copyright 2019 sum.cumo GmbH

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the “License”); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an “AS IS” BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.


Learn more about sum.cumo and work on open source projects, too!

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