IE Oddness

Volume 6, Issue 59; 14 Jul 2003

A plea for help. I'm getting reports of problems with IE and images, but I can't fathom the problem. (Updated again 15 July 2003: comments in JPEG files may be the culprit.)

Over the past couple of weeks, I've had several reports from readers having trouble viewing images from this site in IE. I even managed to replicate the problem myself on Deb's laptop, though I was none the wiser for the effort.

The symptom as described is that you go to a page that contains one or more images and the text loads fine in IE but the images never come up. The browser status area reports that it's waiting for some number of images and the browser keeps on chugging, but nothing is ever displayed.

Server logs suggest that 43 or so percent of you are coming in with one version of Internet Explorer or another. Are only a miniscule percentage of readers experiencing the problem, or reporting it?

I'm stumped. Intuition and a few moments casual testing suggest that I could work around it by making all the image links more explicit (removing all content negotiation from the equation) but I really don't want to. And I can't see why it should be necessary.

Clues solicited.

It's the metadata  Update: 24 July 2003: After another week, I'm pretty sure it's the metadata (comments in JPEG files, actually). Below are two images: they are identical except that one has embedded metadata and the other doesn't. Many (most? all?) IE users, can only see the one without metadata.

Wet Lily without Metadata
Wet Lily without Metadata
Wet Lily with Metadata
Wet Lily with Metadata

Update: 15 Jul 2003: I've removed image metadata from the thumbnail and scaled images. This should make both of the images above and most other images accessible. It's possible that “full size” images (the ones you get on if you click on an image on a page) will still cause problems. While I'm sympathetic, I'm very fond of my metadata and I'm not moved to rip it all out just to work around a broken browser.


Have you tried using GIFs instead of PNGs ? IE/Win only partially (no transparency) supports PNG since v5.5 I think. You may alsowant to lower the compression ratio on your images, because the artifacts are quite visible :) Cheers.

—Posted by androse rosewood on 15 Jul 2003 @ 11:54 UTC #

Yeah, i'm seeing the issue as well (IE6, Win2k). I don't have any clues for you, but I thought I'd add my data point.

—Posted by jonathon jongsma on 15 Jul 2003 @ 01:32 UTC #

There are a few PNGs, but I've avoided transparency on them for just the reasons you note. The problematic images are almost all JPGs.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 15 Jul 2003 @ 01:45 UTC #

Just a guess - but it could be that you used Photoshop 7.0 for Mac and did not use "Save for Web". It stores extra metadata for printing controls and such in the JPEG headers. It happens to crash IE for Windows JPEG system until closing.

I ran into this problem with my site. I used some command line wizardry to strip it all out:

—Posted by Thomas Stromberg on 15 Jul 2003 @ 02:03 UTC #

IE6/Win2k shows Metadata: NO but does not show Metadata: Yes.

I thought the meta data in jpg was too good to be true. :-)

—Posted by Bob Clary on 15 Jul 2003 @ 03:27 UTC #

I can't see the images in IE. I'm using IE 5.5 here at work and IE 6 on my laptop... neither one works.

—Posted by Clint Combs on 15 Jul 2003 @ 04:53 UTC #

hi norman,

i can see both images (IE5.0). but the properties of both images show as size in bytes of -1 and no type of image. so maybe there is something wrong with the headers. and please don't use PNG on webpages, IE's native PNG support, if available, is really bad and if you have quicktime installed it always grabs the rights to show PNG's, loads the very slow QT-plugin and crashes with a chance of 500D

best regards, andi

—Posted by Andreas Fink on 15 Jul 2003 @ 07:46 UTC #

with IE6/XP, the image with no Metadata shows, the "YES" image does not.

The plausible explanation seems to be the photoshop-supplied metadata.

—Posted by Anthony Starks on 15 Jul 2003 @ 07:53 UTC #

Hi Norm,

FWIW, I can see both images just fine in IE 6.0.2800 (with all patches applied) on both Windows XP and Windows 2000.

Just to verify that I had the right file, I can see the RDF when I save the file and look at it in a binary editor.

BTW, I love that photo!

Cheers, Marty.

—Posted by Martin Kenny on 16 Jul 2003 @ 06:08 UTC #

Now I can see all images (both marked as "metadata: no" and "metadata: yes") in my IE6.0 (W2K). The same for larger version of these images. The thing to note is that IE cannot detect their type and intrinsic size (appropriate properties in IE are set to "Not available").

—Posted by Alexander Peshkov on 16 Jul 2003 @ 06:52 UTC #

In addition to my previous post: when I said "all images" I meant "all images on this page" (nice wet lily). But this one is still a mistery for my IE: The same for the rest of images from that set (tumbnail images work fine).

—Posted by Alexander Peshkov on 16 Jul 2003 @ 07:05 UTC #

IE 6.0.2800 running XP (has all the current updates), I can see both images no problem

—Posted by Mark Levison on 22 Jul 2003 @ 04:22 UTC #

Hi Norm,

I'm using IE 6.0.2800 at home and can see all the pictures. Nice site BTW... looks none too bad here even if you reckon Mozilla would do a better job.

One oddity is that if I "right-click->Open Link in New Window" on a picture I get the middle size image with metadata and prev/next buttons. Simply clicking gets me the full size image. Also clicking the prev/next buttons also steps to a full size image rather than a middle size image plus metadata.



—Posted by Stuart Williams on 25 Jul 2003 @ 09:15 UTC #