Where baby HTTP 404s come from
May 31, 2011
DISCLAIMER: I maintain the code that I refer to in this post, but I didn’t write the code.
I’ve been hunting HTTP 404 errors (that’s the “File Not Found” variety), and today I came across a bit of a puzzler. The non-existent image files were being referred to by a stylesheet as part of a CSS
background: instruction, but the rule that contained the instruction was never invoked. That is, the rule was for a class name that was never used.
How the hell was I getting these image requests if the code that started the requests was never being used?
Then I noticed that the errors were coming from just a few different user agents. And they all had something about them…
- LG-GW305/V100 Obigo/WAP2.0 Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 UNTRUSTED/1.0 lg-gw305
- Nokia2730c-1/2.0 (10.47) Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 nokia2730c-1/UC Browser22.214.171.124/70/352
- Nokia5130c-2/2.0 (07.95) Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 nokia5130c-2/UC Browser126.96.36.199/70/352 UNTRUSTED/1.0
- Nokia5330-1d/5.0 (06.85) Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 nokia5330-1d
- Nokia5530/UC Browser188.8.131.52/50/352
- Nokia5800 XpressMusic/UC Browser184.108.40.206/50/352
- NokiaC3-00/5.0 (04.45) Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 nokiac3-00/UC Browser220.127.116.11/69/352 UNTRUSTED/1.0
- NokiaC3-00/5.0 (04.45) Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 Opera/9.60 (J2ME/MIDP;Opera Mini/4.2.13337Mod.by.CHIZZY/503; U; en)Presto/2.2.0 UNTRUSTED/1.0
- NokiaC3-00/5.0 (04.60) Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 nokiac3-00 UNTRUSTED/1.0
- NokiaC3-00/5.0 (07.20) Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 nokiac3-00 UNTRUSTED/1.0
See it? That’s right, they all come from mobile browsers. This puzzled me a bit, until I realised that it might be something you’d do to speed up the user experience if you knew they’d be on a slow connection (and you didn’t care if they downloaded heaps of data they didn’t need).
So here’s the piece of knowledge I want to add to the internet (he said, arrogantly assuming it wasn’t there already): Mobile browsers prefetch images from stylesheets as an optimisation in the face of low speed connections.