HTML5 Rocks

HTML5 Rocks

Integrating input[type="file"] with the Filesystem API

By Eric Bidelman at

Let's say you have a photo editing app and you'd like users to be able to drag in hundreds of photos and copy them into your app. Ok, what do you do?

Launch Demo

In a recent post, Eiji Kitamura highlighted a subtle, yet powerful new feature in the drag and drop APIs; the ability to drag in folders and retrieve them as HTML5 Filesystem API FileEntry and DirectoryEntry objects (done by accessing a new method on the DataTransferItem, .webkitGetAsEntry()).

What's remarkably cool about the .webkitGetAsEntry() extension is how elegant it makes importing files and entire folders. Once you have a FileEntry or DirectoryEntry from a drop event, it's a matter of using the Filesystem API's copyTo() to get it imported into your app.

An example of copying multiple dropped folders over to the filesystem:

var fs = null; // Cache filesystem for later.

// Not shown: setup drag and drop event listeners.
function onDrop(e) {
  e.preventDefault();
  e.stopPropagation();

  var items = e.dataTransfer.items;

  for (var i = 0, item; item = items[i]; ++i) { 
    var entry = item.webkitGetAsEntry();

    // Folder? Copy the DirectoryEntry over to our local filesystem.
    if (entry.isDirectory) {
      entry.copyTo(fs.root, null, function(copiedEntry) {
        // ...
      }, onError);
    }
  }
}

window.webkitRequestFileSystem(TEMPORARY, 1024 * 1204, function(fileSystem) {
  fs = fileSystem;
}, function(e) {
  console.log('Error', e);
});

Very nice! Again, the simplicity comes from integrating DnD with the Filesystem API calls.

Taking this one step further, we also have the ability to drag and drop a folder and/or files onto a normal <input type="file">, then access the entries as Filesystem directory or file entries. That is done through .webkitEntries:

<input type="file" multiple>

function onChange(e) {
  e.stopPropagation();
  e.preventDefault();

  var entries = e.target.webkitEntries; // Get all dropped items as FS API entries.

  [].forEach.call(entries, function(entry) {

    // Copy the entry into our local filesystem.
    entry.copyTo(fs.root, null, function(copiedEntry) {
      ...
    }, onError);

  });
}

document.querySelector('input[type="file"]').addEventListener('change', onChange);

I've put together a photo gallery demo to demonstrate these different techniques for importing files/folders.

Launch Demo

To learn more about the HTML5 Filesystem API, see Exploring the Filesystem APIs.