HTML5 Multi-File Uploader w/ Progress Bar

Noah Petherbridge
kirsle
Posted by Noah Petherbridge on Friday, June 20 2014 @ 02:47:01 PM

The most recent feature I added to my website's CMS: multi-file uploads for the photo albums. I've been wanting to get around to this for a while so I can actually upload photo albums in bulk and make better use of that feature on my site. ;)

So I did some research and found some bits of example code here and there, and put together a pure HTML5 multiple-file uploader with progress bar. No Flash, no Java, no Internet Explorer 9 or lower. ;)

A lot of the existing bits of code I found out there weren't quite written in a way that was useful for my purposes. Their code tended to run the upload immediately after getting ahold of the files, i.e. they'd set up an HTML5 drag-and-drop spot and/or a multiple-file <input> box, and as soon as the user drops their pictures or selects them, the JavaScript would go right to work uploading them one by one to the back-end.

On my CMS I wanted to hold off on the uploading, because there's other form elements to take care of too, i.e. what album to put the pictures into or to apply a caption to them all. So I set up handlers for my file input box and drag-drop site to just put all the File objects into an array and wait for the submit button to be pushed.

So in my implementation, all the pictures are uploaded at once to the back-end, and there's only one progress bar (for the entire upload). It's possible to have one upload event per individual file, and therefore get progress bars on a file-by-file basis, but this didn't fit into my existing code structure.

Something I think is cool though is, on the back-end I'm using the exact same endpoint to handle uploads using Ajax (for those with JavaScript turned on) and when being POSTed to directly, i.e. for users with NoScript enabled. In both cases, they hit the /photos/upload on the server to send the form and images.

When the Ajax is the one doing it, it adds an extra __ajax form parameter. In this case, the back-end responds with a JSON response telling what the next URL is, and the JavaScript initiates a redirect to that URL. In case the user has JavaScript turned off, and the form POSTs to the back-end directly, the web server sends an HTTP redirect to the next URL.

Anyway, I threw together a quick Python/Flask app to mess with this stuff and figure it all out so I didn't have to worry about trying to wrangle existing code into doing something new. I have it hosted on Github here: https://github.com/kirsle/flask-multi-upload

The real interesting part is in the JavaScript source - only 184 lines of code, including comments and whitespace. Pretty straightforward. The same basic front-end code could be used regardless of the back-end, i.e. it could be uploading to a PHP script or something instead of a Python app. The Python part of the source is pretty short and sweet too.

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