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Browser Problems Caused by Photoshop 7 JPEG images

Services Photonet , Sep 05, 2002; 10:10 a.m.

We would like to alert our users to a problem caused for Web browsers and other applications by certain JPEG files created with Photoshop 7.

With PS 7, Adobe decided by default to embed XML-encoded "preview" data into JPEG files, using a feature of the JPEG format that permits embedding of arbitrarily-named "profiles". In theory, these files are valid according to the JPEG specifications. However they break many applications, including Quark and, significantly, various versions of Internet Explorer on various platforms.

The symptom in Internet Explorer is that the browser becomes "stuck" in downloading an image file, and its memory utilization starts to increase at the rate of about 100K per minute. After this occurs, the browser can still navigate, but it will not display any images at all -- neither offending PS 7 JPEG images nor any other kind of images, on photo.net or any other site. People have noticed this behaviour and tend to blame it on photo.net, since they don't encounter it on other sites. This is only because other sites have more control over the images that are included on the site, whereas photo.net currently accepts all JPEG files.

Once the browser is blasted by one of these JPEG image bombs, one can recover on some platforms by closing all browser windows and restarting the browser. On some platforms, it is reported that it is necessary to reboot the entire system.

We have searched the Microsoft web site for Internet Explorer workarounds or patches for this problem, and we have not been able to find any. IE 5 and 6 on Windows 2K, and IE 6 on Windows XP are some of the version/platform combinations that are impacted, but there are likely others.

On Adobe's web site, various workarounds given include using the "Save for Web..." function to write the JPEG file, or to set Preferences to disable the saving of "preview" data in output files. Since these workarounds require action on the part of the Photoshop 7 user, photo.net is currently at the mercy of any PS 7 user who does not know about this problem or ignores it.

We are therefore working urgently on a way to filter out these JPEG images. In the meanwhile, we appeal to our users not to upload JPEG images created in PS7 unless they have been saved using the "Save for Web..." feature.


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Steve Hovland , Sep 05, 2002; 10:59 a.m.

Presumably you have notified Adobe of this. It's their problem. It's an example of vendors going out on the bleeding edge to the detriment of their users.

Steve Strawn , Sep 05, 2002; 11:19 a.m.

Man, I tore apart my machine looking for what caused this. Wow, who would have thunk it? Someone needs to plug this hole quick.

William John Smith , Sep 05, 2002; 12:16 p.m.

Macintosh not affected.

This problem was brought to my attention by another photonet user trying to view my images that were saved in PS 7. I'm using a Macintosh so I never noticed a problem. Last night I tried all current Macintosh browsers, IE, Netscape, OmmiWeb, iCab, Navigator, Mozilla and Opera, and they all worked fine. No problems at all. So it seems to be a IE/Windows issue. You might want to headline "Attention Macintosh users" to make our small group aware of the problem so we can change our images. By the way Adobe's PS 7 Guide does say that PS 7 JPGs are not supported by some older browsers.

Alan Krantz , Sep 05, 2002; 12:23 p.m.

Would a simple workaround be to just not use IE. Mozilla is free...

Tommy Huynh , Sep 05, 2002; 12:36 p.m.

It's always a good idea to use "save for the web" when well... saving for the web. Aside from these conflicts, leaving out EXIF data will reduce your file a few KB.

peter nelson , Sep 05, 2002; 01:22 p.m.


I've noticed this behavior a lot in recent weeks on Photo.net, but I've also started to notice it on other sites, too!

I'm not sure I agree that it's Adobe's fault, if it's true that they've correctly implemented the standard in question.

Speaking as a software engineer, my view is that all software should fail gracefully. There is no excuse for the browser to just hang. If it doesn't know what to do with certain data, certain fields, certain headers, certain tags, etc, it should pop up an error message, preferably with some information to the user about what it was trying to do when it failed. Obviously older browsers can't be expected to support standards implemented after they were released, but I'd be very surprised if the JPEG standard doesn't have some way for a browser to only use those features of the JPEG standard extant when the browser was written. So my guess is that this is yet another example of sloppiness on microsoft's part and it is they who have to come up with a fix.

Tom Menegatos , Sep 05, 2002; 02:04 p.m.

If you run the image through jpegtran -copy none it might get rid of the extra header data and fix the problem.

Since some people have noted that their images seem to lose quality after upload and Phil G talks about imagemagick elsewhere on the site I would assume that image magick gets used during the file upload. Throw jpegtran into the loop before image magick and it might fix the problem

Scott Bulger , Sep 05, 2002; 04:07 p.m.

Thanks for the answer to my headache. IE 6.0 on XP Pro. My Netscape 7.0 works fine.

Mike Buntag , Sep 05, 2002; 04:16 p.m.

Thanks for clearing-up that issue. BTW i'm also one of those people mentioned thathas noticed that my images seem to go down in quality after upoading them onto Photo.net, although I wasn't aware of the imagemagick software mentioned. I don't really like this when it happens and would prefer to have greater control over the over-all image quality.

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