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Why does a web page redraw several times before it's done?


I’m running Windows XP with Internet Explorer 8. The web page I tried to
display flashes on and off several times before it kind of locks in and then
finally displays. This happens from Yahoo emails, as well as search, but not in
Google Chrome so it must be either the IE browser or IE mail but what’s causing

In this excerpt from
Answercast #96
I look at reasons webpages may flash and change on the
screen before they are fully drawn.


Web page flashes and redraws

Well, the good news is I don’t believe this is your problem and unfortunately, it’s also not something that’s in your control.

Generally, web page repaints (it’s called re-drawing the screen, or re-painting the screen) are a function of how the web page itself is designed and in what order the actual underlying HTML displays things, or includes things, or references things. That translates into different ways the various browser’s have of interpreting pages, in what order they may process things, and whether or not they try and optimize the display.

Screen “painting” starts over

When a web page gets redisplayed several times, all that really means is that something happened in the HTML so that the browser said, “Darn it, I have to start over. I have to redraw the entire screen because of this little change here down near the end.”

It’s annoying, it’s frustrating. But ultimately it really does boil down to web page design more than anything else.

Browsers and speed

As of you noted, some browsers are better at hiding it, or optimizing around it, or dealing with it than others.

It can also, very often, be speed dependent. In other words, if the server is being a little slow, or your machine is being a little slow, or your internet connection is being a little slow, pages may appear differently than when things are running quickly.

So ultimately there are a lot of different things that can kind-of sort-of factor into this – but it’s not really something you can do much about.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

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3 comments on “Why does a web page redraw several times before it's done?”

  1. Thank you so much for your reply regarding web pages flashing and HTML redrawing. I now know it is what it is and I have peace of mind knowing that.

  2. Is this ‘redrawing/repainting’ the same thing I see going on at the bottom left of my browser window when it flashes all those “redirecting… waiting for…” or is that a connection thingy? The screen display keeps adding content here and there and there’s a lot of the aforementioned activity on the bottom left.

  3. Some of the redrawing is due to various ads arriving at different times. That’s what you are seeing on the Status Bar. Another problem is when ads change size – such as go from a ribbon to a 4-line ad, then back to a ribbon. Then add to the mix ads that cycle at set intervals.

    Very frustrating to try and read an article when you have to keep scrolling up/down to keep up with the text. Or to line up on a link just to have it change about the time you click it. Grrrr.

    But as Leo says, it is largely due to poor web page design. All I can do is sit back and wait for the page to settle down.


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