Mr Speaker

The End of XBM as we know it

A broken imageMicrosoft giveth, and Microsoft taketh awayeth. Damn Microsofth. They've killed the super-cool, barely known, rarely used x-bitmap (XBM) image. Kind of.

Recently Wolf5k got front-paged on Digg, and in the comments I noticed some people where having troubles with it noting, "I just get a broken image" or some such. This sounded odd, so I decided to investigate.

Wolf5k, the 5k [tag]javascript[/tag] implementation of Wolfenstein 3d, was what lead me to first discover the XBM image and its javascriptable magic.

I had a look at my post and Wolf5k and they seemed fine. Then I checked them out in IE6. No XBM. This couldn't be right... surely Microsoft didn't get rid of XBM support?! Nope - there is an XBM file in my post and that was showing fine. But the scripted XBMs were not to be seen.

After some exhaustive searches 'round the internet I found that scripted XBM's have been made a no-no since window's service pack 2. This can be worked-around by importing (or modifying if its already there as "1") the following item into registry.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Security]

BlockXBM!!!! Damn them!!!! Why would they block scripted XBM's, and why is the registry key in the security section of IE? Then I remembered what I had written in my old post:

XBM images probably aren't going to take over the web anytime soon, but keep an eye on them. They are so obscure that I'm sure a windows buffer overflow vulnerability will spring up from them shortly.

Could it be that my post was read, and my jesting triggered a series of events that lead to the expulsion of the scripted XBM from the 'net? After all, it was some of my off-hand derogatory comments that got the <random-blink> tag removed from HTML.

R.I.P XBMWhatever the reason, rest in peace Scripted XBM image - you filled our lives with 2-colour animated happiness, and will be slightly missed, by a couple of people.


  1. Oh no! It’s worse than I realised! The BlockXBM registry setting actually blocks ALL xbms – even non-scripted ones! That means IE users can’t even see my hand-calculated R.I.P image. That took me AGES converting pixels to decimal to hex using calc.exe. Well, I suppose it’s just one more reason to get firefox.

    Wednesday, September 6, 2006 at 9:48 am | Permalink
  2. Hmmm, micro sloth does it again, get firefox.
    god help us what they will cut when the over priced and resource greedy “vista” comes into the mainstream????

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006 at 8:54 pm | Permalink
  3. well you gotta have hardware accelleration to plany minesweeper…….

    Thursday, November 2, 2006 at 3:41 am | Permalink
  4. Looks like scripted XBMs are now being disabled in the newer versions of Firefox ( Aaaarrrggghhh.

    Friday, April 20, 2007 at 6:28 am | Permalink
  5. It fails when you have object.src = javascript:xbmdata;
    The error I get is that xbmdata is not defined. still works.

    Friday, April 20, 2007 at 6:32 am | Permalink
  6. There is a work-around for scripted XBMs in Firefox: Add a javascript function to convert the XBMs to Base64 and use <img src=”data:text/xbm;Base64,…

    Monday, January 12, 2009 at 9:16 am | Permalink
  7. Wolf5k works in Opera.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
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