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Author: Benjamin Coe @benjamincoe

Thumbd is an image thumbnailing server built on top of Node.js, SQS, S3, and ImageMagick.


apt-get install imagemagick
npm install thumbd

Thumbd requires the following environment variables to be set:

  • AWS_KEY the key for your AWS account (the IAM user must have access to the appropriate SQS and S3 resources).
  • AWS_SECRET the AWS secret key.
  • BUCKET the bucket to download the original images from. The thumbnails will also be placed in this bucket.
  • SQS_QUEUE the queue to listen for image thumbnaling. Should be in the format 123456789/queue-name.

You can export these variables to your environment, or specify them when running the thumbd CLI.

Personally, I set these environment variables in a .env file and execute thumbd using Foreman.


The thumbd server:

  • listens for thumbnailing jobs on the queue specified.
  • downloads the original image from S3 to a temporary directory.
  • Uses ImageMagick to perform a set of transformations on the image.
  • uploads the thumbnails created back to S3, with the following naming convention: [original filename excluding extension]_[thumbnail suffix].jpg

Assume that the following thumbnail job was received over SQS:

    "original": "example.png",
    "thumbnail_descriptions": [
            "suffix": "tiny",
            "width": 48,
            "height": 48
            "suffix": "small",
            "width": 100,
            "height": 100
            "suffix": "medium",
            "width": 150,
            "height": 150

Once thumbd processes the job, the files stored in S3 will look something like this:

  • /example.png
  • /example_tiny.jpg
  • /example_small.jpg
  • /example_medium.jpg


Starting the server:

thumbd server --aws_key=<key> --aws_secret=<secret> --tmp_dir=</tmp> --sqs_queue=<sqs queue name> --bucket=<s3 thumbnail bucket>

Manually submitting an SQS thumbnailing job (useful for testing purposes):

thumbd thumbnail --remote_image=<path to image in s3> --thumbnail_descriptions=<path to thumbnail description JSON file> --aws_key=<key> --aws_secret=<secret> --sqs_queue=<sqs queue name>
  • remote_image indicates the S3 object to perform the thumbnailing operations on.
  • thumbnail_descriptions the path to a JSON file describing the dimensions of the thumbnails that should be created (see example.json in the data directory).

The Future

thumbd is a rough first pass at creating an efficient, easy to deploy, thumbnailing pipeline. I need thumbd for work, and will be actively contributing to this project.


Copyright (c) 2012 See LICENSE.txt for further details.

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