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name Punditsdkoslkdosdkoskdo

How to use PNG's IDAT chunk?

I'm trying to understand how data are stored into IDAT chunk. I'm writing a little PHP class and I can retrieve most of chunks information but what I get for IDAT doesn't match pixels of my image :

enter image description here It is 2×2px truecolour with alpha (bitdepth 8).

But when I interpret IDAT data like this:


I get


I don't understand how it can match pixels. Or is it my code which corrupts data?

Thanks for your help!

EDIT: I get


as hex compressed data, so it seems I loss several bytes after uncompressing.

enter image description here

Use gzinflate but skip the first 2 bytes and the last 4 first.

$contents = file_get_contents($in_filename);
$pos = 8; // skip header

$color_types = array('Greyscale','unknown','Truecolour','Indexed-color','Greyscale with alpha','unknown','Truecolor with alpha');
$len = strlen($contents);
$safety = 1000;
do {
    list($unused,$chunk_len) = unpack('N', substr($contents,$pos,4));

    $chunk_type = substr($contents,$pos+4,4);

    $chunk_data = substr($contents,$pos+8,$chunk_len);

    list($unused,$chunk_crc) = unpack('N', substr($contents,$pos+8+$chunk_len,4));
    echo "chunk length:$chunk_len(dec) 0x" . sprintf('%08x',$chunk_len) . "h<br>\n";
    echo "chunk crc   :0x" . sprintf('%08x',$chunk_crc) . "h<br>\n";
    echo "chunk type  :$chunk_type<br>\n";
    echo "chunk data  $chunk_type bytes:<br>\n"  . chunk_split(bin2hex($chunk_data)) . "<br>\n";
    switch($chunk_type) {
        case 'IHDR':
        list($unused,$width,$height) = unpack('N2', substr($chunk_data,0,8));
        list($unused,$depth,$Color_type,$Compression_method,$Filter_method,$Interlace_method) = unpack('C*', substr($chunk_data,8));
        echo "Width:$width,Height:$height,depth:$depth,Color_type:$Color_type(" . $color_types[$Color_type] . "),Compression_method:$Compression_method,Filter_method:$Filter_method,Interlace_method:$Interlace_method<br>\n";
        $bytes_per_pixel = $depth / 8;

        case 'PLTE':
        $palette = array();
        for($i=0;$i<$chunk_len;$i+=3) {
            $tupl = bin2hex(substr($chunk_data,$i,3));
            $palette[] = $tupl;
            if($i && ($i % 30 == 0)) {
                echo "<br>\n";
            echo '<span style="color:' . $tupl . ';">[' . $tupl . ']</span>';
        echo print_r($palette,true) . "<br>";

        case 'IDAT':
        $compressed = substr($chunk_data,2,$chunk_len - 6); // 2 bytes on the front and 4 at the end
        $decompressed = gzinflate($compressed);
        echo "decompressed chunk data " . strlen($decompressed) . " bytes:<br>\n"  . chunk_split(bin2hex($decompressed),2 + $width * $bytes_per_pixel * 2) . "<br>\n";
        for($row=0; $row<$height; $row++) {
            for($col=1; $col<=$width; $col++) {
                $index = (int)substr($decompressed,((int)$row*($width+1)+$col),1);
                echo '<span style="color:' . $palette[$index] . ';">' . $index . '</span>';
            echo "<br>\n";
        // TODO use filters described here:
        // http://www.w3.org/TR/PNG/#9Filters
        // first byte of scan line is filter type

    $pos += $chunk_len + 12;
    echo "<hr>";
} while(($pos < $len) && --$safety);
  • 9
Reply Report
      • 2
    • In order to get good compression, the PNG format applies filters before compression. The filters do things like: if two scan lines one-over-the-other are almost the same, the pixels on the lower line that match the pixel above, get changed to zeros. So when you're done you have a crap-ton of zeros and compression is really good. So you need to reverse that and undo the filters after decompression. see w3.org/TR/PNG/#9Filters
    • Right, and filter "transforms the byte sequence in a scanline to an equal length sequence of bytes preceded by a filter type byte". So shouldn't I have a 18 bytes uncompressed data (1 "bytedepth" * 4 channels * 4 pixels + 2 filters)?
      • 2
    • Seems right. Maybe there really isn't an alpha channel??? If the fist byte has some other meaning and there isn't an alpha then you would have 00(the mystery byte) 000000(rgb) ffffff(rgb) + another mystery byte + ffffff and 000000. So perhaps each scan line has a byte to describe the filter scheme of that line. Sorry it's been too long since I did any coding on this.
      • 1
    • That's it! My mistake was to think Gimp saved my image with an alpha channel. But image type is 2 for "Truecolour", so it's only 3 channels (R,V,B). Mystery bytes are filter type used for each scanline (none in this case). Thanks!
      • 2
    • thanks, inflate works now but I get "00000000ffffff00ffffff000000" (14 bytes), how are they used to get pixels?
00000000 ffffff00 ffffff00 0000xxxx
black    white    white    black

That's what I can tell (which is correct) ... but you are missing 2 bytes at the end.

  • 4
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      • 2
    • I thought there was a filter type byte in each scanline? Could missing bytes come from bad decompression algorithm?
    • I'm not read up on PNG at all really, but the data you present seem to correspond to what you should be getting, except that it isn't all of it ... so I personally can't help you with why that might be happening: w3.org/TR/PNG/#11IDAT @leonbloy might be right about multiple IDAT blocks, but I find it strange that a block so small would be split up... are you sure you are uncompressing all the bytes?
      • 1
    • The first byte of each line is 00 here (the PNG line filter). After that, you get two RGB triples: 00 00 00 and ff ff ff for the first line, ff ff ff and 00 00 00 for the 2nd.

To add to @Andreas (+1) parsing, two things to note:

  1. A PNG file can have (and often has) many IDAT chunks, they must be concatenated to recover the compressed zlib stream. http://www.w3.org/TR/PNG/#10CompressionFSL

  2. Gzip/Compress/Deflate are all related but are not exactly the same. PNG uses deflate/inflate. I'd try with gzdeflate/gzinflate

  • 3
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      • 1
    • I just noticed that length part of IDAT chunk is smaller than length of its data, I think it's where the problem comes from but I can't guess why
      • 2
    • @MatTheCat "The length counts only the data field, not itself, the chunk type, or the CRC." It seems to me as if it's likely that you use it as the length of the entire IDAT block. Just double-checked your hexcode above, I can find the DATA to be 21 bytes.

Warm tip !!!

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