Lepton enables Dropbox users to compress photos without losing data

Edward Hudson By: Edward Hudson
2 minute read

Cloud-based storage is the new norm and Dropbox is among the popular file hosting companies that provide such services. But cloud storage comes at the expense of bandwidth and storage space. That is why many cloud applications adapt to save space by compressing images. However, some compression methods can take their toll on the quality of an image as they reduce the size of a graphics file. Thanks to Dropbox Lepton, users can compress images without losing data.

Open-sourced in July of this year, Dropbox Lepton can achieve a 22% reduction in a JPG image while preserving the bit-for-bit quality of the original file. Dropbox now uses Lepton to save bandwidth and storage space. As of July 2016, the company has already encoded 16 billion images and helped save petabytes of space.

Dropbox Lepton works to process and export images in a LEP format. The program can also restore LEP files to the original JPG file in a lossless manner. Lepton is a single executable file which runs from the command line. Due to an issue with Lepton’s input parsing, users will need to supply .exe to the target file name, thus lepton.exe mypic.jpg. The program also crashes if a user fails to enclose a path containing a space in quotes, thus lepton.exe “c:\my pics\picture.jpg”.

A basic front end for Lepton called LeptonGUI is available, however, if the above-mentioned process sounds too cumbersome. LeptonGUI does not introduce additional functionality, but it’s a helpful tool that supports the drag-and-drop gesture without having to use the command line. Users can convert a full set of images and view the compression rate using LeptonGUI. However, LeptonGUI is limited in functionality, as it does not allow users to change conversion parameters.

Nonetheless, LeptonGUI allows for easy conversion of supported images to Dropbox’s Lepton format or from LEP to another format. But that’s only convenient in the sense that it minimizes the storage requirement. Dropbox Lepton’s source code and a command line version for Windows 7 or later are now available to download from GitHub.

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