Depends on D9099
Yes and no. In that case the loader would need additional information to know if it needs to actually process the 9patch information. The current code allow for actually be able to get the row data if necessary without changing the loader. Also this simplify the loader a lot as all the logic of reading the special bit are very much more constrained (if you look at the code of the png loader, you will see that mixing things in the file_data function would increase complexity a lot and reduce the maintainability of the loader. It is complex enough).