Ajax Image Uploads (with Previews)

Earlier today I saw a pretty darn good tutorial over at ZURB (I have no idea why they are, but with a name like ZURB they are either Web 2.0 experts or an alien race hell bent on enslaving us. Either way - cool). The article, Image Uploads with 100% Less Suck. Guaranteed, detailed how you can let a user select an image and create a preview from that selection. I'm not going to talk a lot about how the code works - the ZURB folks did a real good job in their blog entry. So be sure to read that before going any further. I assume you did that (programmers always follow written directions) and have asked - can we do this with ColdFusion handling the server-side image processing? Of course we can. Here is a quick mock up I came up with.

I began with a slightly modified version of ZURB's front end code. I set up my div/form like so:

<div id="preview"><span id="status"></span><img id="thumb"></div> <form action="test.cfm" method="post"> <b>Upload a Picture</b><br/> <input type="field" id="imageUpload" name="imageUpload"><br/> <input type="submit" value="Save"> </form>

Notice I've got a preview div with a status span and a blank image. The form itself just consists of the upload field. Now for the JavaScript, and again, credit for this goes to ZURB, and I should also point out it makes use of the AJAX Upload jquery plugin.

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1/jquery.min.js"></script> <script src="ajaxupload.js"></script> <script>


var thumb = $('img#thumb'); 

new AjaxUpload('imageUpload', {
    action: 'thumbnailupload.cfm',
    name: 'image',
    onSubmit: function(file, extension) {
        $('span.status').text("Loading preview");
    onComplete: function(file, response) {
        response = $.trim(response)
        thumb.attr('src', 'thumbnailpreview.cfm?f='+escape(response));



For the most part this is no different from the ZURB blog entry, but I decided to use simple text for the status field during loading. (And yes, I left a console.log in there - IE folks please delete!) You will notice that I point the upload to thumbnailupload.cfm. The result is then loaded via another ColdFusion file, thumbnailpreview.cfm. Let's first look at the upload.

<cfset destdir = "ram:////thumbnails"> <cfif not directoryExists(destdir)> <cfdirectory action="create" directory="#destdir#"> </cfif>

<cffile action="upload" filefield="image" destination="#destdir#" nameconflict="makeunique" result="result"> <cfset newFilePath = destdir & "/" & result.serverfile>

<cfif isImageFile(newFilePath)> <cfset jpgVersion = destdir & "/" & replace(createUUID(), "-", "_", "all") & ".jpg"> <cfimage action="resize" width="100" height="100" source="#newFilePath#" destination="#jpgVersion#" overwrite="true"> <cfoutput>#getFileFromPath(jpgVersion)#</cfoutput> </cfif>

I begin by making use of the Virtual File System - a ColdFusion 9 feature. If my root folder doesn't exist, I create it. I then handle the upload. So far so good. The last part of the template simply checks to see if the upload was an image. If it is, I both resize and rename to a JPG. I'll explain the rename in a bit. The resize is hard coded to be 100x100. If I had left height to blank I could have gotten a resize that respected the aspect ratio. Normally you do want to respect that - but in my case I just thought a box worked better. The final action is to return the file name of the JPG file I created.

So if you look back into the JavaScript, you see I take that result, trim it, and pass it to a new url, the preview script. Let's now take a look at that:

<cfparam name="url.f" default="">

<cfif fileExists("ram:////thumbnails/#url.f#") and isImageFile("ram:////thumbnails/#url.f#")> <cfimage action="read" source="ram:////thumbnails/#url.f#" name="image"> <cfcontent type="image/jpg" variable="#imageGetBlob(image)#"> </cfif>

Woot. Lots of a code there, eh? As you can see, I simply validate that the requested file exists in the VFS (and is a valid image - which means I'm duplicating my check here - a bit of overkill but it can't hurt). I read in the bits and serve it up via cfcontent. The result is spectacular:

Ok, so maybe that's not exactly spectacular, but it does work rather well. However, there's a few things we need to keep in mind before using this code:

  • When you make use of the AJAX Upload jquery plugin, it "takes over" the file upload field. What that means is if you submit the form you don't get the file. This means we are right back to the non trivial problem I blogged about last week. If I had to solve it for this particular example, I'd probably store the uploaded image as is, after renaming to a UUID, and then create a thumbnail by adding a "_t" to the file name. I'd return the UUID key and my preview script would know how to find the thumbnail. I'd store that UUID in a hidden form field. When the form is submitted, I'd then know how to fetch the real image out of RAM. Who else thinks it would be cool to have a presentation on "Non-Trivial AJAX Problems"?
  • I'm not sure why I used cfimage to read in the bits in the preview script. I should have just read the bits in via fileRead. It would - I assume - run a bit faster.
  • This code should be pretty sure - it's checking to see if the upload is a valid image, but you probably tighten it up even further. Also note I forgot to delete the upload if it wasn't an image. That's a two second modification though.

Anyway, I hope this implementation example is useful!

Like This?

If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can also subscribe to the email feed to get notified of new posts.