This article explains the use of an ASP.NET handler to serve up images. Why use an image handler? The most important reason is to prevent broken image links. I focused on creating an image handler that in addition to the basic functionality can also resize images and rotate/flip an image based on URL query string parameters. Finally, .NET data caching is used to speed up the performance of serving images.
Using the Code
The first thing the handler does is to check if the image, stored as a bitmap, exists in the .NET data caching engine. There are two levels of caching implemented for this handler. The first cache is based on the query string. So, for example, the URL request "ImageHandler.ashx?image=images/rover.gif&width=200&height=400" would have a cache based on the URL parameters "?image=images/rover.gif&width=200&height=400". If this cache is found, then the image is rendered from the cache as a JPEG, saving both response time and processing power. If this cache does not exist, then the image will be retrieved and processed. This is where the second caching layer exists. Since the original bitmap can be requested in several ways based on the URL parameters, the original image is also cached after it is retrieved, resulting in fewer requests to the hard drive.
if (context.Cache[("ImageQueryURL-" + context.Request.QueryString.ToString())] != null)
bitOutput = (Bitmap)context.Cache[("ImageQueryURL-" +
In this step, we are determining the dimensions to resize the image to. The height and/or the width can be passed as a query string parameter to determine the output size. In this code block, when both the height and width are passed, the image will be resized.
double inputRatio = Convert.ToDouble(bitInput.Width) /
if (!(String.IsNullOrEmpty(context.Request["width"])) &&
_width = Int32.Parse(context.Request["width"]);
_height = Int32.Parse(context.Request["height"]);
After we have obtained the image, the query string is again checked, this time for rotating and flipping.
else if (context.Request["RotateFlip"] == "Rotate180flipnone")
Finally, we resize the image using the Windows GDI+ engine. We use high quality rendering modes to reduce artifacting, but this comes at the price of processing and response time. This is another reason that the data caching is an important part of this class.
Bitmap resizedBitmap = new Bitmap(newWidth, newHeight, PixelFormat.Format24bppRgb);
Graphics g = Graphics.FromImage(resizedBitmap);
g.CompositingQuality = System.Drawing.Drawing2D.CompositingQuality.HighQuality;
g.CompositingMode = System.Drawing.Drawing2D.CompositingMode.SourceCopy;
g.InterpolationMode = System.Drawing.Drawing2D.InterpolationMode.HighQualityBicubic;
Rectangle rectangle = new Rectangle(0, 0, newWidth, newHeight);
g.DrawImage(inputBitmap, rectangle, 0, 0, inputBitmap.Width,
Ways to Improve/Build upon this code
The objective of this project was to make a simple and easy to use image handler, where all the code is contained in one class. I made sure to put all code in the single handler class so that it could easily be dropped into a project, without a lot of configuration hassles. However, there were some compromises that had to be made. Generally, a handler is designed to work against certain file types defined in IIS. I didn't make the code work this way because it wouldn't have been as easy to share with the CodeProject community, but it certainly could with a few small modifications. I would also define the
noImageUrl as a configuration variable, perhaps in the web.config file or another configuration file.
Lastly, a great advantage of using an image handler is that you disassociate the actual physical location of the images from where they appear to a browser. You may find yourself in the situation where the physical location of your images needs to be moved, which has cascading impacts on many different components of your system that may have hard coded image paths.