Wednesday 5 November 2014

Gigabit File uploads Over HTTP - The Node.js version

Gigabit File uploads Over HTTP - The Node.js version

Please see the ASP .Net version of the article. It provides background information that might not be covered here.

Updated version that uses NGINX reverse proxy and asynchronous code

Like it or not JavaScript is everywhere. It can be found in front end applications on the client, it can be found in a variety of frameworks and  libraries, and it can be found in  backend applications in server environments.

The popularity of JavaScript has certainly increased in recent years, and that seems to be because the JavaScript Ecosystem is helping to  improve productivity and to reduced the time it takes to get an application through the door.  So after my first post, in which I blogged about doing Gigabit File uploads using an ASP. NET Web API backend, I decided to see if I could achieve the same thing using Node.js. This means that I will be implementing the "UploadChunk" and the "MergeAll" methods that I spoke about in my last post in Node.js.

The Development Environment

We will be using Visual Studio Express 2013 for Web as the development environment, however it can't be used as is to do Node.js development. In order to do that we have to install the Node.js Tools for Visual Studio.  Once this plugin is installed it will turn Visual Studio Express 2013 for Web into a Node.js IDE that provides everything we need to create the application. So based on the instructions we need to:
  • Download and install Node.js for Windows. Chose the version that is the appropriate one for your platform and this is either Node.js (x86) or Node.js (x64).
  • Download and install Node.js Tools for Visual Studio.
Once the installation is completed we will launch Visual Studio Express 2013 for Web, and use the Node.js Interactive Window to validate the installation. The Node.js Interactive Window can be found at View->Other Windows->Node.js Interactive Window. Once the Node.js Interactive Window is launched we will type a few commands to check that all is OK.

Figure 1 Node.js Interactive Window

Now that we have validated the installation we are now ready to create the Node.js backend that supports Gigabit File Uploads. We start by creating a new project and selecting a Blank Node.js Web Application template.

Figure 2 New project using the Blank Node.js Web Application template

Once the project is created we should see a file named server.js and the Node Package Manager (npm) in the Solution Explorer.

Figure 3 The Node.js application in the Solution Explorer

The server.js file has all code that is needed  to create a basic hello world application in Node.js.

Figure 4 The Hello World application

I am going to go ahead and delete the code in the server.js file, and start to write the code to create Gigabit File Upload backend in Node.js. However I need to use the npm to install a few dependencies for this project and those are:

  •  Express - This is a Node.js web application framework, designed for building single-page, multi-page, and hybrid web applications 
  •  Formidable - This is Node.js module for parsing form data, especially file uploads.
  •  fs-extra - This is a Node.js module for interacting with the file system.

Figure 5 Using NPM to install the required modules

Once the installation of the modules is completed we should see them listed in the Solution Explorer.

Figure 6 Solution Explorer showing the installed modules
The next thing that we will do is to create a "Scripts" folder in the Solution Explorer and add the "workeruploadchunk.js" and the "workerprocessfile.js" scripts to that folder. We also need to download the jQuery 2.x and the SparkMD5 libraries and add them to the "Scripts" folder. The final thing that we need to do is to add the "Default.html" page. All of this is described in my previous post.

Creating the Node.js Backend

To get started we are going to use the Node.js "require()" function to import the modules that we need for the Gigabit File Upload backend. You will notice that I am also importing the "path" and the "crypto" modules as well. The "path" module provides the methods that we will need to use to generate the file names for the uploaded file chunks. The "crypto" module provides the methods that we will need to use to create the MD5 checksum for the uploaded file.

// The required modules
var express = require('express');
var formidable = require('formidable');
var fs = require('fs-extra');
var path = require('path');
var crypto = require('crypto');

The magic happens in the next line of code.
var app = express();

What this line of code is doing is to create the express application. The express application is a middleware that wraps up all of the underlying  functionality of Node.js. If you remember  the "Hello World" application that was created by the  Blank Node.js Web Application  template you will see that we had to  import the "http" module and then call the "http.CreateServer()" method to create our "Hello World" web application. The express application that we have created already has all of that functionality built into it.
Now that we have created the express application we will tell it to serve up the "Default.html" page that we created in the previous post and then we will wait for incoming connections to our application.

// Serve up the Default.html page
app.use(express.static(__dirname, { index: 'Default.html' }));

// Startup the express.js application
app.listen(process.env.PORT || 1337);

// Path to save the files
var uploadpath = 'C:/Uploads/CelerFT/';

The express application has an app.VERB() method that provides the routing functionality in Express.js. We will use the method to process the "UploadChunk" requests.  In the method the first thing that we do is to check that we are processing a HTTP POST request. The next thing that is checked is to see if the Content-Type is multipart/form-data, and the other check is to ensure that we are not uploading a file chunk  that is greater than 51 MB.

// Use the post method for express.js to respond to posts to the uploadchunk urls and
// save each file chunk as a separate file'*/api/CelerFTFileUpload/UploadChunk*', function (request, response) {

    if (request.method === 'POST') {

        // Check Content-Type   
        if (!('multipart/form-data'))) {
            response.status(415).send('Unsupported media type');

        // Check that we have not exceeded the maximum chunk upload size
        var maxuploadsize = 51 * 1024 * 1024;

        if (request.headers['content-length'] > maxuploadsize) {

            response.status(413).send('Maximum upload chunk size exceeded');

Once we have successfully passed all of these checks we will attempt to save the uploaded file chunk as a separate file and pad the name with a sequential number. The most important part of the code below is the call to the fs.ensureDirSync()  method that is used to check if the temporary directory exists. If the directory does not exit it is created. Note that we are using the synchronous version of the method.

       // Get the extension from the file name
        var extension = path.extname(request.param('filename'));

        // Get the base file name
        var baseFilename = path.basename(request.param('filename'), extension);

        // Create the temporary file name for the chunk
        var tempfilename = baseFilename + '.' +
        request.param('chunkNumber').toString().padLeft('0', 16) + extension + ".tmp";

        // Create the temporary directory to store the file chunk
        // The temporary directory will be based on the file name
        var tempdir = uploadpath + request.param('directoryname') + '/' + baseFilename;

        // The path to save the file chunk
        var localfilepath = tempdir + '/' + tempfilename;

        if (fs.ensureDirSync(tempdir)) {
            console.log('Created directory ' + tempdir);

As I had indicated in the previous post we can upload the file chunk in one of two ways to the backend server. The first way is to use the FormData object in the web browser and to send the file chunk as binary data, the other way is to convert the file chunk to a base64 encoded string and create a hand crafted multipart/form-data encoded request and to send that to the backend server.
So we need to check to see if we are uploading a hand crafted multipart/form-data encoded request. This is done by checking for the presence of the "CelerFT-Encoded"  header. If this header is present we create a buffer and use the request ondata event to copy all of the data into the buffer.
The request onend event is used to extract the base64 encoded string from the multipart/form-data encoded request.  This is done by splitting the string representation of the buffer using CRLF. The actual base64 encoded file chunk is found in the 4th index of the array.
The base64 encoded data is converted back to binary by creating a new buffer. This buffer is then written to the file using the fs.outputFileSync () method.

        // Check if we have uploaded a hand crafted multipart/form-data request
        // If we have done so then the data is sent as a base64 string
        // and we need to extract the base64 string and save it
        if (request.headers['celerft-encoded'] === 'base64') {

            var fileSlice = new Buffer(+request.headers['content-length']);
            var bufferOffset = 0;

            // Get the data from the request
            request.on('data', function (chunk) {
                chunk.copy(fileSlice , bufferOffset);
                bufferOffset += chunk.length;

            }).on('end', function () {

                // Convert the data from base64 string to binary
                // base64 data in 4th index of the array
                var base64data = fileSlice.toString().split('\r\n');
                var fileData = new Buffer(base64data[4].toString(), 'base64');

                fs.outputFileSync(localfilepath, fileData);
                console.log('Saved file to ' + localfilepath);

                // Send back a sucessful response with the file name


The binary file chunk upload will be handled by using the formidable module. We use the formidable.IncomingForm() method to get access to the multipart/form-data encoded request. The formidable module will save the uploaded file chunk to the temporary directory using a unique name that it has assigned to the file. All that we will do is to use the formidable onend event  to save the uploaded file chunk to another name.

else {

            // The data is uploaded as binary data.
            // We will use formidable to extract the data and save it
            var form = new formidable.IncomingForm();
            form.keepExtensions = true;
            form.uploadDir = tempdir;

            // Parse the form and save the file chunks to the
            // default location
            form.parse(request, function (err, fields, files) {

                if (err) {

            //console.log({ fields: fields, files: files });

            // Use the filebegin event to save the file with the naming convention
            /*form.on('fileBegin', function (name, file) {
            file.path = localfilepath;

        form.on('error', function (err) {
                if (err) {

            // After the files have been saved to the temporary name
            // move them to the to teh correct file name
            form.on('end', function (fields, files) {

                // Temporary location of our uploaded file       
                var temp_path = this.openedFiles[0].path;

                fs.move(temp_path , localfilepath, function (err) {

                    if (err) {
                    else {
                        // Send back a sucessful response with the file name



        // Send back a sucessful response with the file name

The app.get() method is used to process the "MergeAll" request. This method implements the same functionality as described in the previous post.

// Request to merge all of the file chunks into one file
app.get('*/api/CelerFTFileUpload/MergeAll*', function (request, response) {

    if (request.method === 'GET') {

        // Get the extension from the file name
        var extension = path.extname(request.param('filename'));

        // Get the base file name
        var baseFilename = path.basename(request.param('filename'), extension);

        var localFilePath = uploadpath + request.param('directoryname') + '/' + baseFilename;

        // Check if all of the file chunks have be uploaded
        // Note we only wnat the files with a *.tmp extension
        var files = getfilesWithExtensionName(localFilePath, 'tmp')

        /*if (err) {

        if (files.length != request.param('numberOfChunks')) {

            response.status(400).send('Number of file chunks less than total count');

        var filename = localFilePath + '/' + baseFilename + extension;
        var outputFile = fs.createWriteStream(filename);

        // Done writing the file
        // Move it to top level directory
        // and create MD5 hash
        outputFile.on('finish', function () {
            console.log('file has been written');

            // New name for the file
            var newfilename = uploadpath + request.param('directoryname') + '/' + baseFilename
            + extension;

            // Check if file exists at top level if it does delete it
            //if (fs.ensureFileSync(newfilename)) {

            // Move the file
            fs.move(filename, newfilename , function (err) {
                if (err) {
                else {

                    // Delete the temporary directory
                    var hash = crypto.createHash('md5'),
                        hashstream = fs.createReadStream(newfilename);

                    hashstream.on('data', function (data) {

                    hashstream.on('end', function () {

                        var md5results = hash.digest('hex');

                        // Send back a sucessful response with the file name
                        response.status(200).send('Sucessfully merged file ' + filename + ", "
                        + md5results.toUpperCase());


        // Loop through the file chunks and write them to the file
        // files[index] retunrs the name of the file.
        // we need to add put in the full path to the file
        for (var index in files) {

            var data = fs.readFileSync(localFilePath + '/' + files[index]);
            fs.removeSync(localFilePath + '/' + files[index]);



I should note that Node.js does not provide a String().padLeft () method, and this is implemented by extending the String() function.

// String padding left code taken from

String.prototype.padLeft = function (paddingChar, length) {
    var s = new String(this);
    if ((this.length < length) && (paddingChar.toString().length > 0)) {
        for (var i = 0; i < (length - this.length) ; i++) {
            s = paddingChar.toString().charAt(0).concat(s);

    return s;

Some Other Things

One of things that I wanted to work on after the last post was to add parallel uploading to CelerFT, by doing domain sharding. The idea behind domain sharding is to trick web browsers into opening more simultaneous connections to a web site than is normally allowed. Domain sharding  can be implemented by either hosting the web site using different domain names (e.g, or by hosting the web site using different port numbers (e.g 8000, 8001).
In this case we will be hosting the web site on different ports.
We are going to do this by integrating Node.js into Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) using iisnode. Download the appropriate version for your platform either iisnode (x86) or iisnode (x64). Download the URL Rewrite Module for IIS.
Once the installation is complete ( I am assuming that Node.js for Windows has been installed) go into the IIS Manager and create six new web sites. I named the first web site CelerFTJS and configured it to listen on port 8000.

Figure 7 Creating a web site in IIS Manager

Create the additional web sites. I created an application pool for each web site and gave the application pool "LocalSystem" privileges".  The local path for all of the web sites is C:\inetpub\wwwroot\CelerFTNodeJS.

Figure 8 The folder layout

I complied the Node.js application in Release mode and I then copied the server.js file , the Scripts folder, and the node_modules folder to the directory.
To get the Node.js application to work with iisnode we will have to create a web.config file and add the following to it.

          <add value="server.js" />

        <!-- indicates that the server.js file is a node.js application to be handled by the     
        iisnode module -->
        <add name="iisnode" path="*.js" verb="*" modules="iisnode" />

          <rule name="CelerFTJS">
            <match url="/*" />
            <action type="Rewrite" url="server.js" />

          <!-- Don't interfere with requests for node-inspector debugging -->
          <rule name="NodeInspector" patternSyntax="ECMAScript" stopProcessing="true">
            <match url="^server.js\/debug[\/]?" />

This web.config entries are saying that we want all *.js files to be handled by iisnode, and that any URL that matches "/*"  will be handled by server.js.

Figure 9 URL Rewrite Rules

 If you did everything right you should be able to browse to http://localhost:8000 and bring up the CelerFT "Default.html" page.

The web.config file was modified to support the upload of large files as was explained in the previous post, and so I won't explain those entries here. However the web.config entry below is to improve the performance of Node.js in iisnode.
<iisnode node_env="production" debuggingEnabled="false" devErrorsEnabled="false" nodeProcessCountPerApplication="0" maxRequestBufferSize="52428800" />

The Parallel Upload

To get the parallel uploads to work using domain sharding I had to make a few changes to the Node.js  application. The first change that I had to make was to support Cross-Origin Request Sharing  (CORS) in the Node.js application. I had to do this because with domain sharding I am actually making a request to a different domain and the same origin-request policy is going to restrict me from making this request.
The good news is that the XMLttPRequest Level 2 specification allows me to do this if the web site has CORS enabled, and even better I don't have to change the upload function in the "workeruploadchunk.js" file to achieve this.

// Enables Cross-Origin Resource Sharing
// Taken from
var enableCORS = function (request, response, next) {
    response.header('Access-Control-Allow-Origin', '*');
    response.header('Access-Control-Allow-Methods', 'GET,POST,OPTIONS');
    response.header('Access-Control-Allow-Headers', 'Content-Type, Authorization, Content-
                    Length, X-Requested-With');

    // intercept OPTIONS method   
    if ('OPTIONS' == request.method) {
    else {

// Enable CORS in express

To enable CORS in the server.js file I created a function that would create the necessary headers that indicated that the Node.js application supported CORS. The other thing that I should indicate that CORS supports two kinds of request and these are:
  • Simple Requests : -
    • Only uses GET, HEAD or POST. If POST is used to send data to the server, the Content-Type of the data sent to the server with the HTTP POST request is one of application/x-www-form-urlencoded, multipart/form-data, or text/plain.
    • Does not set custom headers with the HTTP Request (such as X-Modified, etc.)
  • Prefilghted Requests: -
    •  It uses methods other than GET, HEAD or POST.  Also, if POST is used to send request data with a Content-Type other than application/x-www-form-urlencoded, multipart/form-data, or text/plain, e.g. if the POST request sends an XML payload to the server using application/xml or text/xml, then the request is preflighted.
    • It sets custom headers in the request (e.g. the request uses a header such as X-PINGOTHER)
In our case we are doing a Simple Request and so we didn't need to do much else to get it to work.
In the "workeruploadchunk.js" file  I added support to do the parallel file chunk upload in the self.onmessage event.

    // We are going to upload to a backend that supports parallel uploads.
    // Parallel uploads is supported by publishng the web site on different ports
    // The backen must implement CORS for this to work
    else if (workerdata.chunk != null && workerdata.paralleluploads == true) {

        if (urlnumber >= 6) {
            urlnumber = 0;

        if (urlcount >= 6) {
            urlcount = 0;

        if (urlcount == 0) {
            uploadurl = workerdata.currentlocation + webapiUrl + urlnumber;
        else {
            // Increment the port numbers, e.g 8000, 8001, 8002, 8003, 8004, 8005
            uploadurl = workerdata.currentlocation.slice(0, -1) + urlcount + webapiUrl +

        upload(workerdata.chunk, workerdata.filename, workerdata.chunkCount, uploadurl,

In the Default.html page I saved the current URL, because I am going to pass this information to the file upload web worker. I have to do this because:

  • I am going to use this information to increment the port number
  • In doing a CORS request I need to pass the complete URL to the XMLHttpRequest object.
// Save current
protocol and host for parallel uploads
var currentProtocol = window.location.protocol;
var currentHostandPort =;
var currentLocation = currentProtocol + "//" + currentHostandPort;
The code below shows the modification made to the upload message.

// Send and upload message to the webworker
  case 'upload':
      //Check to see if backend supports parallel uploads
      var paralleluploads = false;
       if ($('#select_parallelupload').prop('checked')) {               
paralleluploads = true;
uploadworkers[].postMessage({ 'chunk': data.blob, 'filename':data.filename,
'directory': $("#select_directory").val(), 'chunkCount': data.chunkCount,
'asyncstate': data.asyncstate, 'paralleluploads': paralleluploads, 'currentlocation':
currentLocation, 'id': });

The final modified CelerFT interface to support parallel uploads.

Figure 10 CelerFT with parallel uploads

The code for this project can be found at my github repository

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