Part of the Computing fundamentals glossary:

A bit map (often spelled "bitmap") defines a display space and the color for each pixel or "bit" in the display space. A Graphics Interchange Format and a JPEG are examples of graphic image file types that contain bit maps.

A bit map does not need to contain a bit of color-coded information for each pixel on every row. It only needs to contain information indicating a new color as the display scans along a row. Thus, an image with much solid color will tend to require a small bit map.

Because a bit map uses a fixed or raster graphics method of specifying an image, the image cannot be immediately rescaled by a user without losing definition. A vector graphics graphic image, however, is designed to be quickly rescaled. Typically, an image is created using vector graphics and then, when the artist is satisfied with the image, it is converted to (or saved as) a raster graphic file or bit map.

This was last updated in September 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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