QuickDoc: A Low Bandwidth View of the Web

Paul Haeberli
Silicon Graphics Computer Systems
5 July 1996


Here's some technology that synthesizes 1 bit deep images on the fly for arbitrary web documents. The URL of the page you want to view is passed to a .cgi program (quickdoc.cgi) that appends all the image URLs with another .cgi program (quickimg.cgi) that gets the image from the site and converts it to 1 bit deep dithered image.

Image sizes go down by a factor of 3 to 8. This can be useful for cruising the web if you have a slow connection to the internet.

I want to let y'all know, though, that this isn't a product. It's an experiment. It's just an exploration of an idea that will definitely be developing over time. You can think of this as running part of the browser on a server.


There are bugs in this current test version. Image maps work, but the document they display will appear in color with big images if they are not client side image maps.

Redirection is not handled correctly. When this is fixed. Then server size image maps will start working as well!

Alas, when the CPU load on reality.sgi.com is high, it may take a while to get the bits over your way. I'd love to run this on a dedicated machine someday.

Also please note that frames don't work right for now. I guess I'll fix this as well.

A Few Examples

Try QuickDoc on GRAFICA Obscura, Salon or Cnet News. If you like, you can enter a compete URL into this form and hit enter:

Another Project of Great Interest

A group at UC Berkeley has put together a proxy server that dynamicaly recompresses images. Their project supports frames, but will not work if you are connected to the web via a fire wall.

Please contact me if you have thoughts on this.

Paul Haeberli