Sending Binary Files to Browsers

This section provides a tutorial example on how to send files to the Web browser in binary mode - using response.ContentType to set the correct file type, and using response.BinaryWrite() method deliver the file content.

Sometimes, you may want to send to the browser files that are not in the HTML format, for example, a PDF document, or MS Word Document. In this case, we have to set Content-Type, Content-Length and other header lines carefully to provide correct information about the entity body for the client program.

Another challenge of sending these types of files is that they must be handled in binary mode. The TextStream class offered in c:\winnt\system32\scrrun.dll can not be used to do this. You must use the Stream class offered in c:\program files\common files\system\ado\msadox.dll, known as the ADO DLL.

Here is a sample ASP page to show you how to set header lines for different types of data in the entity body.

<script language="vbscript" runat="server">
'  get_file.asp
'  Copyright (c) 2002 by Dr. Herong Yang
   p = request.ServerVariables("QUERY_STRING")
   ok = Len(p)>0
   if (ok) then
      if (InStr(p,".html")>0) then
         contentType = "text/html"
      elseif (InStr(p,".gif")>0) then
         contentType = "image/gif"
      elseif (InStr(p,".pdf")>0) then
         contentType = "application/pdf"
      elseif (InStr(p,".doc")>0) then
         contentType = "application/msword"
      else
         ok = false
      end if
   end if
   r = request.ServerVariables("APPL_PHYSICAL_PATH")
   filePath = r & p
   if (ok) then
      response.Buffer = True
      response.Clear
      response.ContentType = contentType
      set objStream = Server.CreateObject("ADODB.Stream")
      objStream.Open
      objStream.Type = 1 'binar type?
      objStream.LoadFromFile filePath
      response.BinaryWrite objStream.Read
      objStream.Close
      response.Flush
      response.End
   else
      response.Write "<html><body>Error:<br/>"
      response.Write "ApplPhysicalPath = ("&r&")<br/>"
      response.Write "QueryString = ("&p&")<br/>"
      response.Write "</body></html>"
      response.End
   end if
</script>

Ideas used in this page:

Now let's see how this page works.

1. Use IE (Internet Explorer) to request: http://localhost/get_file.asp?hello.html, you should see the hello message properly displayed as HTML document.

2. Use IE to request: http://localhost/get_file.asp?dot.gif, you should see a tiny dot displayed as an image.

3. Use IE to request: http://localhost/get_file.asp?hello.pdf, you should see IE calling Adobe Reader to display the hello message as a PDF document.

4. Use IE to request: http://localhost/get_file.asp?hello.doc, you should see IE calling MS Word to display the hello message as Word document. Of course, you have to prepare such a Word document and put it on the IIS server in order to do this test.

5. Use IE to request: http://localhost/get_file?any.txt, you should see IE displaying an error message. The reason is, of course, that the file name extension of the requested file is not supported.

Last update: 2002.

Table of Contents

 About This Book

 ASP (Active Server Pages) Introduction

 IIS (Internet Information Services) 5.0

 MS Script Debugger

 VBScript Language

 ASP Built-in Run-time Objects

 ASP Session

 Creating and Managing Cookies

 Managing Sessions with and without Cookies

 scrrun.dll - Scripting Runtime DLL

Managing Response Header Lines

 HTTP Response Syntax

 HTTP Response Header Lines

 Controlling Response Header Lines

 Viewing Response Header Lines

 Response Header Lines for Static Files

 Controlling Response Header Line Example

Sending Binary Files to Browsers

 Sending Files as Downloads

 Calculation Speed and Response Time

 ADO (ActiveX Data Object) DLL

 Working with MS Access Database

 Guest Book Application Example

 References

 PDF Printing Version