Reading binary files using Ajax

A growing number of web applications are making more and more use of client-side technologies because thanks to Ajax, it is now possible to write more fluid and more responsive web applications using only client-side technologies.

Now, web developers from all around the globe are releasing really interesting utilities and applications using only client-side technologies, many of which used to be within the domain of server-side technologies.

But when it comes to binary files, helping hands from server-side technologies are often necessary.

So I googled around to see what I can do about binary files with Ajax and found this Marcus Granado’s post at

What he posted there worked like a charm for FireFox and Safari but I couldn’t get it to work for IE.

But luckily, within the same page, someone had posted up a solution for IE as a comment, which is written in VBScript.

So I put them all together in this BinFileReader function, which provides cross-browser support and helper methods to easily access the binary contents.


* BinFileReader:

getFileSize() Return the file size
getFilePointer() Return the reading position
movePointerTo(iTo) Move the reading position to iTo.
movePointer(iDirection) Move the reading position in iDirection.
For all the following read functions,
– The reading position will move to the end of where the content is last read
– When iFrom is ommited, current reading position is used
readNumber(iNumBytes, iFrom) Read and return iNumBytes-byte number starting at iFrom.
readString(iNumChars, iFrom) Read and return iNumChars characters starting at iFrom.
readUnicodeString(iNumChars, iFrom) Read and return iNumChars unicoded characters starting at iFrom.


* Example:
var bmpFile = new BinFileReader(“image.bmp”);
var width = bmpFile.readNumber(4);
var height = bmpFile.readNumber(4);

* Demo:


* Related Posts