Complete example of how to upload images to Amazon S3 from Angular via Express


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In this blog post I present a complete example of how to upload an image to Amazon S3 bucket all the way from frontend implemented in Angular to the backend implemented with NodeJS/ExpressJS. This is based on a real use case running in production at the www.bookmarks.dev : once you register for an account you have the possibility to change your profile picture with something more personal at user settings.

Octocat Source code for bookmarks.dev is available on Github.

So let’s jump into the tutorial

Frontend (Angular)

We will start with the front end part.

Angular Template

And namely with the html template part in angular:

<div *ngIf="(userData$ | async) as userDataVar; else loading" class="navigation-space-buffer">
  <h2>Profile image <i class="fas fa-portrait"></i></h2>
  <div class="profile-image">
    <img *ngIf="selectedFileSrc || userDataVar.profile.imageUrl else robot"
         [src]="selectedFileSrc || userDataVar.profile.imageUrl"
         height="200"
         alt="User profile image">
    <br/>
    <br/>
    <ng-template #robot>
      <div class="generic-profile-image"><i class="fas fa-robot"></i></div>
    </ng-template>
    <div class="custom-file">
      <input #imageInput
             type="file"
             accept="image/*"
             class="form-control"
             id="picture"
             (change)="changeImage(imageInput)">
      <label class="custom-file-label" style="cursor: pointer" for="picture"></label>
    </div>
  </div>

  <div [hidden]="!imageFileIsTooBig"
       class="alert alert-danger mt-2">
    The image file selected is too big (max 1MB)
  </div>
  <div *ngIf="profileImageChangedStatus === 'ok'" class="alert alert-success mt-2"> Image Profile updated successfully!</div>
  <div *ngIf="profileImageChangedStatus === 'fail'" class="alert alert-danger mt-2"> Image Profile failed to update!</div>

  <hr/>
</div>

The async forces the page rendering to wait before displaying the image and the image upload input.

The src attribute of the img element is set to the selectedFileSrc which points to the new changed image which is immediately displayed, or to the existing profile userDataVar.profile.imageUrl (order is important). Otherwise, a robot font character is shown:

    <img *ngIf="selectedFileSrc || userDataVar.profile.imageUrl else robot"
         [src]="selectedFileSrc || userDataVar.profile.imageUrl"
         height="200"
         alt="User profile image">
    <br/>

The most important section here is the input of type file:

    <div class="custom-file" >
      <input #imageInput
             type="file"
             accept="image/*"
             class="form-control"
             id="picture"
             (change)="changeImage(imageInput)">
      <label class="custom-file-label" style="cursor: pointer" for="picture"></label>
    </div>

This is wrapped in a Bootstrap custom-file input paragraph.

Note:

  • type file of the input element, which let the user choose the file from the device storage.
  • tell the browser to accept only images (accept="image/*")- you should also validate the uploaded file type on the server also (see the backend section)
  • when the native change event of the input is fired, we call the changeImage(imageInput) with the input element itself; this was defined before the template reference variable #imageInput, which enables us to make this call

The label of the input element displays the file’s name and size, once the file is uploaded in the browser:

      <label class="custom-file-label" style="cursor: pointer" for="picture"></label>

If the user uploads a picture that is bigger than 1MB the user gets an instant feedback via:

  <div [hidden]="!imageFileIsTooBig"
       class="alert alert-danger mt-2">
    The image file selected is too big (max 1MB)
  </div>

Finally, the user is informed via the profileImageUploadStatus variable whether the profile image change was successful or not:

  <div *ngIf="profileImageChangedStatus === 'ok'" class="alert alert-success mt-2"> Image Profile updated successfully!</div>
  <div *ngIf="profileImageChangedStatus === 'fail'" class="alert alert-danger mt-2"> Image Profile failed to update!</div>

Angular Component

Let’s now see what the Angular component looks like:

@Component({
  selector: 'app-user-profile',
  templateUrl: './user-profile.component.html',
  styleUrls: ['./user-profile.component.scss']
})
export class UserProfileComponent implements OnInit {

  userProfileForm: FormGroup;

  profileImageChangedStatus = 'init';
  uploadImageLabel = 'Choose file (max size 1MB)';
  imageFileIsTooBig = false;
  selectedFileSrc: string;

  // ...... other methods and imports skipped for brevity

  changeImage(imageInput: HTMLInputElement) {
    const file: File = imageInput.files[0];
    this.uploadImageLabel = `${file.name} (${(file.size * 0.000001).toFixed(2)} MB)`;
    if (file.size > 1048576) {
      this.imageFileIsTooBig = true;
    } else {
      this.imageFileIsTooBig = false;
      const reader = new FileReader();

      reader.addEventListener('load', (event: any) => {
        this.selectedFileSrc = event.target.result;
        this.userDataService.uploadProfileImage(this.userData.userId, file).subscribe(
          (response) => {
            this.userData.profile.imageUrl = response.url;
            this.userDataStore.updateUserData$(this.userData).subscribe(
              () => {
                this.profileImageChangedStatus = 'ok';
              },
              () => {
                this.profileImageChangedStatus = 'fail';
              });
          },
          () => {
            this.profileImageChangedStatus = 'fail';
          });
      });

      if (file) {
        reader.readAsDataURL(file);
      }
    }
  }
}

Note:

  • we define a couple of helper variables in the beginning
    • profileImageChangedStatus - use to inform the user if the picture was changed successfully or not
    • uploadImageLabel - the input’s label text; changes to the file name and size once one is uploaded
    • selectedFileSrc - used to display the picture more rapidly, even before it is loaded in the amazon S3 bucket, to give the user a “taste” of what it looks like
    • imageFileIsTooBig - flag to notify the user if the image file is too big
  • the image file to be uploaded is extracted from the files attribute of the HTMLInputElement
  • we define a FileReader to asynchronously read the content of the image file reader.readAsDataURL(file)
  • when the file has been successfully read, i.e. the load event is triggered, we upload the image file to the backend via UserDataService - this.userDataService.uploadProfileImage(this.userData.userId, file); see below the implementation of this method
  • by subscribing to the method mentioned before we give feedback to the user if the change was successful or not

The Service Method

@Injectable()
export class UserDataService {

  private usersApiBaseUrl = '';  // URL to web api

  constructor(private httpClient: HttpClient) {
    this.usersApiBaseUrl = environment.API_URL + '/personal/users';
  }

  uploadProfileImage(userId: String, image: File): Observable<any> {
    const formData = new FormData();
    formData.append('image', image);

    return this.httpClient.post(`${this.usersApiBaseUrl}/${userId}/profile-picture`, formData);
  }
  // imports and other methods are absent for brevity
}

In the service method you use the FormData interface to construct basically a form data to send to backend. This is in the same format if the encoding type would be multipart/form-data.

This requires a key value pair, where image is the key of the formData and the second paramater is the file itself. You will see in the following section how to handle it in the backend.

Backend (ExpressJS)

Let’s see how you can handle the upload in the backend.

const ImageValidationHelper = require('./image-validation.helper');

const aws = require('aws-sdk');
aws.config.update({
  accessKeyId: process.env.AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID,
  secretAccessKey: process.env.AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY,
  region: process.env.AWS_REGION
});

const s3 = new aws.S3();
const multer = require("multer");
const multerS3 = require('multer-s3');
const path = require('path')

const upload = multer({
  limits: {
    fileSize: 1048576 // 1MB
  },
  fileFilter: ImageValidationHelper.imageFilter,
  storage: multerS3({
    s3: s3,
    bucket: 'bookmarks.dev',
    acl: 'public-read',
    cacheControl: 'max-age=31536000',
    contentType: multerS3.AUTO_CONTENT_TYPE,
    metadata: function (req, file, cb) {
      cb(null, {fieldName: file.fieldname});
    },
    key: function (req, file, cb) {
      const key = `user-profile-images/${process.env.NODE_ENV}/${req.params.userId}_${Date.now().toString()}${path.extname(file.originalname)}`
      cb(null, key);
    }
  })
});

// other methods and imports are exclude for brevity

/* save profile picture */
usersRouter.post('/:userId/profile-picture', keycloak.protect(),
  upload.single("image" /* name attribute of <file> element in your form */),
  async (request, response) => {
    userIdTokenValidator.validateUserId(request);

    return response.status(HttpStatus.OK).send({
      url: request.file.location
    });
  });

AWS-SDK Setup

To upload an image to S3 bucket you need to install the aws-sdk package - npm install aws-sdk - and configure it:

const aws = require('aws-sdk');
aws.config.update({
  accessKeyId: process.env.AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID,
  secretAccessKey: process.env.AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY,
  region: process.env.AWS_REGION
});

The credentials and region come from environment variables, but there are other options explained in the AWS SDK documentation for getting your credentials

Multer Setup

In an ExpressJS backend, Multer as Node.js middleware is the way to handle multipart/form-data for uploading the image - npm install --save multer

const s3 = new aws.S3();
const multer = require("multer");
const multerS3 = require('multer-s3');
const path = require('path')

const upload = multer({
  limits: {
    fileSize: 1048576 // 1MB
  },
  fileFilter: ImageValidationHelper.imageFilter,
  storage: multerS3({
    s3: s3,
    bucket: 'bookmarks.dev',
    acl: 'public-read',
    cacheControl: 'max-age=31536000',
    contentType: multerS3.AUTO_CONTENT_TYPE,
    metadata: function (req, file, cb) {
      cb(null, {fieldName: file.fieldname});
    },
    key: function (req, file, cb) {
      const key = `user-profile-images/${process.env.NODE_ENV}/${req.params.userId}_${Date.now().toString()}${path.extname(file.originalname)}`
      cb(null, key);
    }
  })
});

First we verify the size to be less than 1MB:

  limits: {
    fileSize: 1048576 // 1MB
  }

Multer will through a standard Express error if this is the case, that we can catch in our final error handler:

app.use(function (error, req, res, next) {
  if ( res.headersSent ) {
    return next(error)
  } else if ( error.code === 'LIMIT_FILE_SIZE') { // Multer error - see https://github.com/expressjs/multer/blob/master/lib/multer-error.js && https://github.com/expressjs/multer#error-handling
    return res
      .status(HttpStatus.BAD_REQUEST)
      .json({
        httpStatus: HttpStatus.BAD_REQUEST,
        message: error.code + ' ' + error.message,
        stack: app.get('env') === 'development' ? error.stack : {}
      });
  } else {
    res.status(error.status || HttpStatus.INTERNAL_SERVER_ERROR);
    res.send({
      message: error.message,
      stack: app.get('env') === 'development' ? error.stack : {}
    });
  }
});

Secondly, we check that the uploaded file is an image via fileFilter: ImageValidationHelper.imageFilter option. The implementation of the filter:

const ValidationError = require('../../error/validation.error');

const imageFilter = function(req, file, cb) {
  // Accept images only
  if (!file.originalname.match(/\.(jpg|JPG|jpeg|JPEG|png|PNG|gif|GIF)$/)) {
    req.fileValidationError = 'Only image files are allowed!';
    return cb(new ValidationError('Method accespts only images [jpg|JPG|jpeg|JPEG|png|PNG|gif|GIF]', ['The file uploaded is not an image']), false);
  }
  cb(null, true);
};
exports.imageFilter = imageFilter;

checks the file extension, which needs to be one in the list above.

Multer storage engine - MulterS3

  storage: multerS3({
    s3: s3,
    bucket: 'bookmarks.dev',
    acl: 'public-read',
    cacheControl: 'max-age=31536000',
    contentType: multerS3.AUTO_CONTENT_TYPE,
    metadata: function (req, file, cb) {
      cb(null, {fieldName: file.fieldname});
    },
    key: function (req, file, cb) {
      const key = `user-profile-images/${process.env.NODE_ENV}/${req.params.userId}_${Date.now().toString()}${path.extname(file.originalname)}`
      cb(null, key);
    }

We use multerS3 as a Multer Storage Engine to upload the file to S3. We provide it with the following options:

  • bucket: 'bookmarks.dev' - the bucket to store the file in
  • acl: 'public-read' - owner gets FULL_CONTROL, all other users gets READ access (in this case the user profile picture is public)
  • cacheControl: 'max-age=31536000' - the max-age for caching is set to the maxim recommended of one year
  • metadata contains the metadata object to be sent to S3; here it sets fieldName to image, the value that comes from formData from frontend
  • key is the name of the file in the bucket - here it is environment specific, user specific (userId) plus current date and original file name

Upload the file to Amazon S3 Bucket

Finally, we upload the file to the bucket by calling the single method of the Multer middleware:

/* save profile picture */
usersRouter.post('/:userId/profile-picture', keycloak.protect(),
  upload.single("image" /* name attribute of <file> element in your form */),
  async (request, response) => {
    userIdTokenValidator.validateUserId(request);

    return response.status(HttpStatus.OK).send({
      url: request.file.location
    });
  });

If the upload is successful, we send a 200 OK status back and in response we put the public url of the image from the bucket. You can get it from request.file.location attribute.

Conclusion

You should know by now how to upload a picture to Amazon S3 bucket with Angular and ExpressJS. You have also learned how to validate the upload both in frontend and backend. For suggestions please leave a comment below, or better yet make a pull request.

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Adrian Matei

Adrian Matei
Life force expressing itself as a coding capable human being

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