Cover by David Flanagan

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Blobs

A Blob is an opaque reference to, or handle for, a chunk of data. The name comes from SQL databases, where it means “Binary Large Object.” In JavaScript, Blobs often represent binary data, and they can be large, but neither is required: a Blob could also represent the contents of a small text file. Blobs are opaque: all you can do with them directly is determine their size in bytes, ask for their MIME type, and chop them up into smaller Blobs:

var blob = ...   // We'll see how to obtain a Blob later
blob.size        // Size of the Blob in bytes
blob.type        // MIME type of the Blob, or "" if unknown
var subblob = blob.slice(0,1024, "text/plain"); // First 1K of the Blob as text
var last = blob.slice(blob.size-1024, 1024);    // Last 1K of the Blob, untyped

The web browser can store Blobs in memory or on disk, and Blobs can represent really enormous chunks of data (such as video files) that are too large to fit in main memory without first being broken into smaller pieces with slice(). Because Blobs can be so large and may require disk access, the APIs that work with them are asynchronous (with synchronous versions available for use by worker threads).

Blobs are not terribly interesting by themselves, but they serve as a critical data interchange mechanism for various JavaScript APIs that work with binary data. Figure 22-2 illustrates how Blobs can be read from and written to the Web, the local filesystem, local databases, and also other windows and workers. It also shows how Blob content can ...

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