Image loading with image.decode()
The API provide an explicit decode function for an image with a success/failure callback when the image is loaded and decoded. After decoding the image authors could append it to the DOM, without causing a decoding delay.
Current practice loading an image into an app
image.onload handler guarantees that trying to use the image is going to work. At this time the image is not decoded. With the first time using the image data we usually get a delay to decoding overhead. So after inserting an image into the DOM a paint event occurs and this causes a synchronous decode of the image in the main thread. As a result the main thread is blocked.
The performance tool shows the delay synchronous image decoding causes. The browser main thread is blocked for more than 800 ms in this example. Of course this example uses a very big image to illustrate the effect. But if you think about a result list with many (normal sized) images and carousels the effect could cause jank also.
Even when using the Promise API to load the image asynchronously we are still faced with the same effect. We only shift the insertion of the image into the DOM to a callback. So appending the image to the DOM still causes a synchronous decode of the image.
Using image.decode() function to load images
The usage of the decode function is very simple and supports us with the success/failure callback functionality we know from the Promise API.
In the example the author requests to decode an image element. The decode implies a load, followed by the decode of the image. The call returns a promise, which, when fulfilled, ensures that the image can be appended to the DOM without causing a decoding delay on the next frame.
Actual implementation status for API:
- Chrome has ‘Intend to ship’
- Safari has ‘Public support’
- Firefox and Edge have ‘No public signal’