This guide walks you through the process of creating a server application that can receive HTTP multi-part file uploads.

What you’ll build

You will create a Spring Boot web application that accepts file uploads. You will also build a simple HTML interface to upload a test file.

What you’ll need

How to complete this guide

Like most Spring Getting Started guides, you can start from scratch and complete each step, or you can bypass basic setup steps that are already familiar to you. Either way, you end up with working code.

To start from scratch, move on to Build with Gradle.

To skip the basics, do the following:

When you’re finished, you can check your results against the code in gs-uploading-files/complete.

Build with Gradle

Build with Gradle

First you set up a basic build script. You can use any build system you like when building apps with Spring, but the code you need to work with Gradle and Maven is included here. If you’re not familiar with either, refer to Building Java Projects with Gradle or Building Java Projects with Maven.

Create the directory structure

In a project directory of your choosing, create the following subdirectory structure; for example, with mkdir -p src/main/java/hello on *nix systems:

└── src
    └── main
        └── java
            └── hello

Create a Gradle build file

build.gradle

buildscript {
    repositories {
        mavenCentral()
    }
    dependencies {
        classpath("org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-gradle-plugin:1.5.8.RELEASE")
    }
}

apply plugin: 'java'
apply plugin: 'eclipse'
apply plugin: 'org.springframework.boot'

jar {
    baseName = 'gs-uploading-files'
    version =  '0.1.0'
}

repositories {
    mavenCentral()
}

sourceCompatibility = 1.8
targetCompatibility = 1.8

dependencies {
    compile("org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-thymeleaf")
    testCompile("org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-test")
}

The Spring Boot gradle plugin provides many convenient features:

  • It collects all the jars on the classpath and builds a single, runnable "über-jar", which makes it more convenient to execute and transport your service.

  • It searches for the public static void main() method to flag as a runnable class.

  • It provides a built-in dependency resolver that sets the version number to match Spring Boot dependencies. You can override any version you wish, but it will default to Boot’s chosen set of versions.

Build with Maven

Build with Maven

First you set up a basic build script. You can use any build system you like when building apps with Spring, but the code you need to work with Maven is included here. If you’re not familiar with Maven, refer to Building Java Projects with Maven.

Create the directory structure

In a project directory of your choosing, create the following subdirectory structure; for example, with mkdir -p src/main/java/hello on *nix systems:

└── src
    └── main
        └── java
            └── hello

pom.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<project xmlns="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
         xsi:schemaLocation="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0 http://maven.apache.org/xsd/maven-4.0.0.xsd">
    <modelVersion>4.0.0</modelVersion>

    <groupId>org.springframework</groupId>
    <artifactId>gs-uploading-files</artifactId>
    <version>0.1.0</version>

    <parent>
        <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
        <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-parent</artifactId>
        <version>1.5.8.RELEASE</version>
    </parent>

    <properties>
        <java.version>1.8</java.version>
    </properties>


    <dependencies>
        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
            <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-thymeleaf</artifactId>
        </dependency>

        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
            <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-test</artifactId>
            <scope>test</scope>
        </dependency>
    </dependencies>

    <build>
        <plugins>
            <plugin>
                <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
                <artifactId>spring-boot-maven-plugin</artifactId>
            </plugin>
        </plugins>
    </build>

</project>

The Spring Boot Maven plugin provides many convenient features:

  • It collects all the jars on the classpath and builds a single, runnable "über-jar", which makes it more convenient to execute and transport your service.

  • It searches for the public static void main() method to flag as a runnable class.

  • It provides a built-in dependency resolver that sets the version number to match Spring Boot dependencies. You can override any version you wish, but it will default to Boot’s chosen set of versions.

Build with your IDE

Build with your IDE

Create an Application class

To start a Spring Boot MVC application, we first need a starter; here, spring-boot-starter-thymeleaf and spring-boot-starter-web are already added as dependencies. To upload files with Servlet containers, you need to register a MultipartConfigElement class (which would be <multipart-config> in web.xml). Thanks to Spring Boot, everything is auto-configured for you!

All you need to get started with this application is the following Application class.

src/main/java/hello/Application.java

package hello;

import org.springframework.boot.SpringApplication;
import org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.SpringBootApplication;

@SpringBootApplication
public class Application {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        SpringApplication.run(Application.class, args);
    }

}

As part of auto-configuring Spring MVC, Spring Boot will create a MultipartConfigElement bean and make itself ready for file uploads.

Create a file upload controller

The initial application already contains a few classes to deal with storing and loading the uploaded files on disk; they’re all located in the hello.storage package. We’ll use those in our new FileUploadController.

src/main/java/hello/FileUploadController.java

package hello;

import java.io.IOException;
import java.util.stream.Collectors;

import org.springframework.beans.factory.annotation.Autowired;
import org.springframework.core.io.Resource;
import org.springframework.http.HttpHeaders;
import org.springframework.http.ResponseEntity;
import org.springframework.stereotype.Controller;
import org.springframework.ui.Model;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.ExceptionHandler;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.GetMapping;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.PathVariable;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.PostMapping;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestParam;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.ResponseBody;
import org.springframework.web.multipart.MultipartFile;
import org.springframework.web.servlet.mvc.method.annotation.MvcUriComponentsBuilder;
import org.springframework.web.servlet.mvc.support.RedirectAttributes;

import hello.storage.StorageFileNotFoundException;
import hello.storage.StorageService;

@Controller
public class FileUploadController {

    private final StorageService storageService;

    @Autowired
    public FileUploadController(StorageService storageService) {
        this.storageService = storageService;
    }

    @GetMapping("/")
    public String listUploadedFiles(Model model) throws IOException {

        model.addAttribute("files", storageService.loadAll().map(
                path -> MvcUriComponentsBuilder.fromMethodName(FileUploadController.class,
                        "serveFile", path.getFileName().toString()).build().toString())
                .collect(Collectors.toList()));

        return "uploadForm";
    }

    @GetMapping("/files/{filename:.+}")
    @ResponseBody
    public ResponseEntity<Resource> serveFile(@PathVariable String filename) {

        Resource file = storageService.loadAsResource(filename);
        return ResponseEntity.ok().header(HttpHeaders.CONTENT_DISPOSITION,
                "attachment; filename=\"" + file.getFilename() + "\"").body(file);
    }

    @PostMapping("/")
    public String handleFileUpload(@RequestParam("file") MultipartFile file,
            RedirectAttributes redirectAttributes) {

        storageService.store(file);
        redirectAttributes.addFlashAttribute("message",
                "You successfully uploaded " + file.getOriginalFilename() + "!");

        return "redirect:/";
    }

    @ExceptionHandler(StorageFileNotFoundException.class)
    public ResponseEntity<?> handleStorageFileNotFound(StorageFileNotFoundException exc) {
        return ResponseEntity.notFound().build();
    }

}

This class is annotated with @Controller so Spring MVC can pick it up and look for routes. Each method is tagged with @GetMapping or @PostMapping to tie the path and the HTTP action to a particular Controller action.

In this case:

  • GET / looks up the current list of uploaded files from the StorageService and loads it into a Thymeleaf template. It calculates a link to the actual resource using MvcUriComponentsBuilder

  • GET /files/{filename} loads the resource if it exists, and sends it to the browser to download using a "Content-Disposition" response header

  • POST / is geared to handle a multi-part message file and give it to the StorageService for saving

In a production scenario, you more likely would store the files in a temporary location, a database, or perhaps a NoSQL store like Mongo’s GridFS. It’s is best to NOT load up the file system of your application with content.

You will need to provide a StorageService for the controller to interact with a storage layer (e.g. a file system). The interface is like this:

src/main/java/hello/storage/StorageService.java

package hello.storage;

import org.springframework.core.io.Resource;
import org.springframework.web.multipart.MultipartFile;

import java.nio.file.Path;
import java.util.stream.Stream;

public interface StorageService {

    void init();

    void store(MultipartFile file);

    Stream<Path> loadAll();

    Path load(String filename);

    Resource loadAsResource(String filename);

    void deleteAll();

}

There is an example implementation of the interface in the sample app. You could copy and paste it if you want to save time.

Creating a simple HTML template

To build something of interest, the following Thymeleaf template is a nice example of uploading files as well as showing what’s been uploaded.

src/main/resources/templates/uploadForm.html

<html xmlns:th="http://www.thymeleaf.org">
<body>

	<div th:if="${message}">
		<h2 th:text="${message}"/>
	</div>

	<div>
		<form method="POST" enctype="multipart/form-data" action="/">
			<table>
				<tr><td>File to upload:</td><td><input type="file" name="file" /></td></tr>
				<tr><td></td><td><input type="submit" value="Upload" /></td></tr>
			</table>
		</form>
	</div>

	<div>
		<ul>
			<li th:each="file : ${files}">
				<a th:href="${file}" th:text="${file}" />
			</li>
		</ul>
	</div>

</body>
</html>

This template has three parts:

  • An optional message at the top where Spring MVC writes a flash-scoped messages.

  • A form allowing the user to upload files

  • A list of files supplied from the backend

Tuning file upload limits

When configuring file uploads, it is often useful to set limits on the size of files. Imagine trying to handle a 5GB file upload! With Spring Boot, we can tune its auto-configured MultipartConfigElement with some property settings.

Add the following properties to your existing properties settings:

src/main/resources/application.properties

spring.http.multipart.max-file-size=128KB
spring.http.multipart.max-request-size=128KB

The multipart settings are constrained as follows:

  • spring.http.multipart.max-file-size is set to 128KB, meaning total file size cannot exceed 128KB.

  • spring.http.multipart.max-request-size is set to 128KB, meaning total request size for a multipart/form-data cannot exceed 128KB.

Make the application executable

Although it is possible to package this service as a traditional WAR file for deployment to an external application server, the simpler approach demonstrated below creates a standalone application. You package everything in a single, executable JAR file, driven by a good old Java main() method. And along the way, you use Spring’s support for embedding the Tomcat servlet container as the HTTP runtime, instead of deploying to an external instance.

You also want a target folder to upload files to, so let’s enhance the basic Application class and add a Boot CommandLineRunner which deletes and re-creates that folder at startup:

src/main/java/hello/Application.java

package hello;

import org.springframework.boot.CommandLineRunner;
import org.springframework.boot.SpringApplication;
import org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.SpringBootApplication;
import org.springframework.boot.context.properties.EnableConfigurationProperties;
import org.springframework.context.annotation.Bean;

import hello.storage.StorageProperties;
import hello.storage.StorageService;

@SpringBootApplication
@EnableConfigurationProperties(StorageProperties.class)
public class Application {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        SpringApplication.run(Application.class, args);
    }

    @Bean
    CommandLineRunner init(StorageService storageService) {
        return (args) -> {
            storageService.deleteAll();
            storageService.init();
        };
    }
}

@SpringBootApplication is a convenience annotation that adds all of the following:

  • @Configuration tags the class as a source of bean definitions for the application context.

  • @EnableAutoConfiguration tells Spring Boot to start adding beans based on classpath settings, other beans, and various property settings.

  • Normally you would add @EnableWebMvc for a Spring MVC app, but Spring Boot adds it automatically when it sees spring-webmvc on the classpath. This flags the application as a web application and activates key behaviors such as setting up a DispatcherServlet.

  • @ComponentScan tells Spring to look for other components, configurations, and services in the hello package, allowing it to find the controllers.

The main() method uses Spring Boot’s SpringApplication.run() method to launch an application. Did you notice that there wasn’t a single line of XML? No web.xml file either. This web application is 100% pure Java and you didn’t have to deal with configuring any plumbing or infrastructure.

Build an executable JAR

You can run the application from the command line with Gradle or Maven. Or you can build a single executable JAR file that contains all the necessary dependencies, classes, and resources, and run that. This makes it easy to ship, version, and deploy the service as an application throughout the development lifecycle, across different environments, and so forth.

If you are using Gradle, you can run the application using ./gradlew bootRun. Or you can build the JAR file using ./gradlew build. Then you can run the JAR file:

java -jar build/libs/gs-uploading-files-0.1.0.jar

If you are using Maven, you can run the application using ./mvnw spring-boot:run. Or you can build the JAR file with ./mvnw clean package. Then you can run the JAR file:

java -jar target/gs-uploading-files-0.1.0.jar
The procedure above will create a runnable JAR. You can also opt to build a classic WAR file instead.

That runs the server-side piece that receives file uploads. Logging output is displayed. The service should be up and running within a few seconds.

With the server running, you need to open a browser and visit http://localhost:8080/ to see the upload form. Pick a (small) file and press "Upload" and you should see the success page from the controller. Choose a file that is too large and you will get an ugly error page.

You should then see something like this in your browser window:

You successfully uploaded <name of your file>!

Testing your application

There are multiple ways to test this particular feature in our application. Here’s one example that leverages MockMvc, so it does not require to start the Servlet container:

src/test/java/hello/FileUploadTests.java

package hello;

import java.nio.file.Paths;
import java.util.stream.Stream;

import org.hamcrest.Matchers;
import org.junit.Test;
import org.junit.runner.RunWith;

import org.springframework.beans.factory.annotation.Autowired;
import org.springframework.boot.test.autoconfigure.web.servlet.AutoConfigureMockMvc;
import org.springframework.boot.test.context.SpringBootTest;
import org.springframework.boot.test.mock.mockito.MockBean;
import org.springframework.mock.web.MockMultipartFile;
import org.springframework.test.context.junit4.SpringRunner;
import org.springframework.test.web.servlet.MockMvc;

import static org.mockito.BDDMockito.given;
import static org.mockito.BDDMockito.then;
import static org.springframework.test.web.servlet.request.MockMvcRequestBuilders.fileUpload;
import static org.springframework.test.web.servlet.request.MockMvcRequestBuilders.get;
import static org.springframework.test.web.servlet.result.MockMvcResultMatchers.header;
import static org.springframework.test.web.servlet.result.MockMvcResultMatchers.model;
import static org.springframework.test.web.servlet.result.MockMvcResultMatchers.status;

import hello.storage.StorageFileNotFoundException;
import hello.storage.StorageService;

@RunWith(SpringRunner.class)
@AutoConfigureMockMvc
@SpringBootTest
public class FileUploadTests {

    @Autowired
    private MockMvc mvc;

    @MockBean
    private StorageService storageService;

    @Test
    public void shouldListAllFiles() throws Exception {
        given(this.storageService.loadAll())
                .willReturn(Stream.of(Paths.get("first.txt"), Paths.get("second.txt")));

        this.mvc.perform(get("/")).andExpect(status().isOk())
                .andExpect(model().attribute("files",
                        Matchers.contains("http://localhost/files/first.txt",
                                "http://localhost/files/second.txt")));
    }

    @Test
    public void shouldSaveUploadedFile() throws Exception {
        MockMultipartFile multipartFile = new MockMultipartFile("file", "test.txt",
                "text/plain", "Spring Framework".getBytes());
        this.mvc.perform(fileUpload("/").file(multipartFile))
                .andExpect(status().isFound())
                .andExpect(header().string("Location", "/"));

        then(this.storageService).should().store(multipartFile);
    }

    @SuppressWarnings("unchecked")
    @Test
    public void should404WhenMissingFile() throws Exception {
        given(this.storageService.loadAsResource("test.txt"))
                .willThrow(StorageFileNotFoundException.class);

        this.mvc.perform(get("/files/test.txt")).andExpect(status().isNotFound());
    }

}

In those tests, we’re using various mocks to set up the interactions with our Controller and the StorageService but also with the Servlet container itself by using MockMultipartFile.

For an example of an integration test, please check out the FileUploadIntegrationTests class.

Summary

Congratulations! You have just written a web application that uses Spring to handle file uploads.

See Also

The following guides may also be helpful:

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All guides are released with an ASLv2 license for the code, and an Attribution, NoDerivatives creative commons license for the writing.