Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Multiple file uploads

I've recently been faced with a project where a client needs to be able to upload multiple files in a form submission. I've faced this problem before and there have been many solutions:

One of the older solutions was to expect that the user would ZIP up all the files so that we effectively convert a multiple file problem to a single file. While this did work, it relied on the user to know how to ZIP up files and expect them to perform an extra step of zipping up the files. Not so elegant.

Another solution, is to use a Java applet. The con of using this implementation is that users are expected to have Java already installed on their system. This is a barrier since not all computers will have them installed. The advantage is that once it is installed, then works regardless of what browser is being used.

Flash uploader has recently been popularized by several websites which include Youtube, Flickr and Facebook. Because of this websites, many users will already have flash installed and therefore is less of a barrier. One of the disadvantages is that behaviour of Flash can be different across browsers and different versions of Flash can behave differently as we will soon see.

Many of my users are not very comfortable with using computers, and many of them will only use a computer when they have to. That being said, having to install something on their computer would seem to be a daunting task. Therefore I decided to go with Flash because most people will already have it installed.

At first I went with a utility called "Uploadify" which can be found here:


What I liked about this solution was that it was very elegant and easy to use. But I learned very quickly, that it just didn't work. It was broken for the latest flash version (version 10) and had very little support. It's been noted on their bug list from so many people, but none of the developers acknowledged any plans to fix it.


I went to look for another solution that was actively being maintained. I stumbled upon "SwfUpload" found here:


The coding wasn't as elegant as Uploadify, but at least it worked, and it worked across all major browsers. The Javascript coding is a bit clunky, but once you have it up and running, it works great.

For those of you looking at comparing other solutions heres a good reference website:


No comments:

Post a Comment