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Stop Caching Images in an email!

Posted on 2006-06-05
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Last Modified: 2012-03-15
Hello,

I have an existing system of "Support Requests", where members in the computer department are all sent an email when a user needs help.  I'd like to create it so in Outlook, when the view the support request email, they will get a visual image cue as to whether the request is "Unassigned", "Pending fix...", or "Resolved".

Functionally, I can do this no problem, as I'm a web programmer, so changing the image on the other end based on the URL is no problem.  However, Outlook isn't working with me, as it saves the first image brought to the clients computer, and it won't ever "refresh" it.  So even though the request has gone through all the steps, Outlook is still showing the first picture it ever downloaded.

I've tried doing some HTTP tricks to get outlook not to cache the image, but it doesn't appear Outlook listens to these.  Does anyone here have any ideas about how I can configure this email/image so Outlook doesn't cache images?  Preferably, I'd like to do this in the email, so I don't have to touch everyone's PC.

Thanks,
--Michael
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Question by:raterus
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LVL 76

Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 16833618
Hi raterus,

How are you trying to determine which image to show and where is that you want the image to show?

Cheers!
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LVL 33

Author Comment

by:raterus
ID: 16833719
Hi BlueDevilFan, This logic is all on done the webserver.

All Outlook knows is the image URL contained the email.  What I'm doing, completely unknown to outlook, is on a request for this URL, I'm calculating which picture should be returned to Outlook.

It should work, and if I close Outlook, it'll re-request the url/picture.  But I can't seem to get Outlook to re-request this image while a user is moving from one email to another.  Outlook is caching the image, despite my best efforts on the webserver to stop all caching of the image.

--Michael
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LVL 76

Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 16834033
Michael,

You're writing an image tag into the message.  Is that right?  If so, then are you using the same URL, or is there a different URL for each image?  Also, are we talking about separate messages, or is this one message that's being replied to back and forth?

-- David
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LVL 33

Author Comment

by:raterus
ID: 16834247
There is just one email, and one URL.  This isn't your basic URL though, it's linked to a script on my webserver that takes the support request ID (contained in the URL), and looks up the status, based on what's happened, it'll return the appropriate image the browser, or in this case outlook.  I realize this is not the typical way you think of an image URL working, which may be leading to some confusion.

Let me also explain it like this, say in my email, I have an image URL in my signature to a company logo.  Our company just got a new logo, so we update the image on the webserver, keeping the same filename, to our new logo.  The URL in the email didn't change, so hopefully ever email we've ever sent out will have the new updated logo in it, right?  

My problem is that even though the image of the URL has changed, Outlook isn't re-requesting the URL again to try to get the new image, it is just displaying the first image.

Hope this make sense,
--Michael
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LVL 76

Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 16834759
Got it.  One last question.  Look at the HTML source of the message.  Does the image link show up with the proper URL or has is been converted to a URL that begins with CID?
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Author Comment

by:raterus
ID: 16835180
It's a regular url in the email source.
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Assisted Solution

by:David Lee
David Lee earned 1920 total points
ID: 16835903
Have a look at this article: http://derekgulbranson.com/2006/04/05/the-nosend-attribute/

It describes a non-standard parameter that Outlook uses.  I discovered it in the way the author describes, by looking at an HTML newsletter I received.  
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LVL 33

Author Comment

by:raterus
ID: 16836161
I tried both <img src="http://..." nosend="1" /> and <img src="http://" nosend="0" /> to no avail, Outlook still remembers the first image.

I just tried something else which didn't work either, using CSS and making the image the background-image of something.  Outlook still saved it...

I'm not opposed to another way to display this image in the email either, as long as it can use a URL.  Is there any type of email scripting available (like javascript is to a web page?)

Thanks for your help so far!
--Michael
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LVL 33

Accepted Solution

by:
raterus earned 80 total points
ID: 16836344
I think I may have figured it out...

I revisited my URL request setup, and how I thought I was disabling caching on the image on the webserver.  I viewed the HTTP headers and noticed it wasn't doing what it should have been doing, so I fixed it.  I seem to be able to move between emails now and the image will refresh itself everytime!
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LVL 76

Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 16837272
Glad you got it working.  I wasn't able to get the image to change at all until I added the nosend parameter.  After adding it the image would change if I did a refresh, but still would not change automatically.
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LVL 33

Author Comment

by:raterus
ID: 16862242
Thanks for helping me out here BlueDevilFan, I appreciate your help.  What I tried to do is working great now, all my department loves the feature!
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LVL 76

Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 16866103
You're welcome.  
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