A JPEG image consists of a sequence of segments, each beginning with a marker, each of which begins with a 0xFF byte followed by a byte indicating what kind of marker it is. Some markers consist of just those two bytes; others are followed by two bytes indicating the length of marker-specific payload data that follows. (The length includes the two bytes for the length, but not the two bytes for the marker.) Some markers are followed by entropy-coded data; the length of such a marker does not include the entropy-coded data. Note that consecutive 0xFF bytes are used as fill bytes for padding purposes, although this fill byte padding should only ever take place for markers immediately following entropy-coded scan data (see JPEG specification section B.1.1.2 and E.1.2 for details; specifically “In all cases where markers are appended after the compressed data, optional 0xFF fill bytes may precede the marker”).

Within the entropy-coded data, after any 0xFF byte, a 0x00 byte is inserted by the encoder before the next byte, so that there does not appear to be a marker where none is intended, preventing framing errors. Decoders must skip this 0x00 byte. This technique, called byte stuffing (see JPEG specification section F.1.2.3), is only applied to the entropy-coded data, not to marker payload data. Note however that entropy-coded data has a few markers of its own; specifically the Reset markers (0xD0 through 0xD7), which are used to isolate independent chunks of entropy-coded data to allow parallel decoding, and encoders are free to insert these Reset markers at regular intervals (although not all encoders do this).

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