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Code: Gem Version CircleCI

Docs: Contribution Guidelines Apache 2.0 License

Community Support: Samvera Community Slack

What is BrowseEverything?

This Gem allows your rails application to access user files from cloud storage. Currently there are drivers implemented for Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Amazon S3, and a server-side directory share.

The gem uses OAuth to connect to a user's account and generate a list of single use urls that your application can then use to download the files.

This gem does not depend on hydra-head

Technical Debt/Legacy warning

This is code with a long history that has a number of known problems; we are trying to keep it alive for existing projects using it. But caution is advised in introducing it, in it's present form, to new projects.

A significant overhaul of this gem may be desirable (with backwards-breaking changes), to better accomplish gem goals. But there has not been the interest/resources in the community to accomplish that at present.

Some known current issues (Jun 2022):

  • The S3 adapter is known working; but it's not clear if other adapters using OAuth2 (main use case for this gem) are in fact working reliably. And there is some concern that the current browse-everything integration API may not be compatible with proper OAuth/OAuth2 flows to support OAuth integrations -- originally the main use case of this gem.

  • The CSS and Javascript were both written for use with the sprockets Rails asset pipeline. Recent versions of Rails may require custom configuration to use sprockets (especially for JS), which is not currently covered in instructions here. Using other means of including CSS and JS may require confusing customization also not fully covered here.

  • Javascript depends on JQuery, bootstrap (3 or 4; 5 untested), as well as a vendored copy of a jquery.treetable plugin.

  • CSS is provided for compatibilty with bootstrap 3 or bootstrap 4, but not bootstrap 5 (or no bootstrap at all)

Product Owner & Maintenance

browse-everything was a Core Component of the Samvera Community. Given a decline in available labor required for maintenance, this project no longer has a dedicated Product Owner. The documentation for what this means can be found here.

Product Owner


Until a Product Owner has been identified, we ask that you please direct all requests for support, bug reports, and general questions to the #dev Channel on the Samvera Slack.

Getting Started

Supported Ruby Releases

Currently, the following releases of Ruby are tested:

  • 3.1
  • 3.0
  • 2.7
  • 2.6

Supported Rails Releases

The supported Rail releases follow those specified by the security policy of the Rails Community. As is the case with the supported Ruby releases, it is recommended that one upgrades from any Rails release no longer receiving security updates.

  • 7.1
  • 7.0
  • 6.1
  • 6.0
  • 5.2
  • 5.1


Add this lines to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'jquery-rails'
gem 'browse-everything'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install browse-everything

Configuring the gem in your host app

After installing the gem, run the generator

$ rails g browse_everything:install

This generator will set up the config/browse_everything_providers.yml file and add the browse-everything engine to your application's routes.

If you prefer not to use the generator, or need info on how to set up providers in the browse_everything_providers.yml, use the info on Configuring browse-everything.

Browse-everything depends on bootstrap, it can work with bootstrap 3 or bootstrap 4.


For bootstrap3 support, your app should include the bootstrap-sass gem in it's Gemfile, and following the install directions for bootstrap-sass, should have @import 'bootstrap-sprockets' and @import 'bootstrap' in it's application.scss. After those lines, add @import "browse_everything/browse_everything_bootstrap3"; to your application.scss.

For bootstrap4 support, your app should include the bootstrap gem in it's Gemfile, and following the install directions for that gem should have @import "bootstrap"; in it's application.scss. After that line, add @import 'browse_everything/browse_everything_bootstrap4' to your application.scss.


In app/assets/javascripts/application.js include jquery and the BrowseEverything

//= require jquery
//= require browse_everything

(Same for bootstrap3 or bootstrap 4)

Migration CSS inclusion from pre-1.0

If your app has installed a previous version of browse-everything, you may have a generated file at ./app/assets/stylesheets/browse_everything.scss, which has a line in it @import "browse_everything/browse_everything";. That import should no longer be used; it can be changed to @import "browse_everything/browse_everything_bootstrap3" instead.

However, we also recommend merging the contents of this file into your main application.scss file, as documented in the current install instructions. With the separate generated file with bootstrap imports, you may likely be including bootstrap CSS in your generated CSS bundle twice, if you also have that import in your main application.scss already.


Adding Providers

In order to connect to a provider like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box, you must provide API keys in config/browse_everything_providers.yml. For info on how to edit this file, see Configuring browse-everything


browse-everything can be triggered in two ways -- either via data attributes in an HTML tag or via JavaScript. Either way, it accepts the same options:


Name Type Default Description
route path (required) '' The base route of the browse-everything engine.
target xpath or jQuery null A form object to add the results to as hidden fields.
context text null App-specific context information (passed with each request)
accept MIME mask / A list of acceptable MIME types to browse (e.g., 'video/*')

If a target is provided, browse-everything will automatically convert the JSON response to a series of hidden form fields that can be posted back to Rails to re-create the array on the server side.

Via data attributes

To trigger browse-everything using data attributes, set the data-toggle attribute to "browse-everything" on the HTML tag. This tells the javascript where to attach the browse-everything behaviors. Pass in the options using the data-route and data-target attributes, as in data-target="#myForm".

For example:

<button type="button" data-toggle="browse-everything" data-route="<%=browse_everything_engine.root_path%>"
  data-target="#myForm" class="btn btn-large btn-success" id="browse">Browse!</button>

Via JavaScript

To trigger browse-everything via javascript, use the .browseEverything() method to attach the behaviors to DOM elements.


The options argument should be a JSON object with the route and (optionally) target values set. For example:

  route: "/browse",
  target: "#myForm"

See JavaScript Methods for more info on using javascript to trigger browse-everything.

The Results (Data Structure)

browse-everything returns a JSON data structure consisting of an array of URL specifications. Each URL specification is a plain object with the following properties:

Property Description
url The URL of the selected remote file.
auth_header Any headers that need to be added to the request in order to access the remote file.
expires The expiration date/time of the specified URL.
file_name The base name (filename.ext) of the selected file.

For example, after picking two files from dropbox,

If you initialized browse-everything via JavaScript, the results data passed to the .done() callback will look like this:

    "url": "",
    "expires": "2014-03-31T20:37:36.214Z",
    "file_name": "filepicker-demo.txt.txt"
  }, {
    "url": "",
    "expires": "2014-03-31T20:37:36.731Z",
    "file_name": "Getting Started.pdf"

See JavaScript Methods for more info on using javascript to trigger browse-everything.

If you initialized browse-everything via data-attributes and set the target option (via the data-target attribute or via the target option on the javascript method), the results data be written as hidden fields in the <form> you've specified as the target. When the user submits that form, the results will look like this:

"selected_files" => {
    "file_name"=>"Getting Started.pdf"

Retrieving Files

The BrowseEverything::Retriever class has two methods, #retrieve and #download, that can be used to retrieve selected content. #retrieve streams the file by yielding it, chunk by chunk, to a block, while #download saves it to a local file.

Given the above response data:

retriever =
download_spec = params['selected_files']['1']

# Retrieve the file, yielding each chunk to a block
retriever.retrieve(download_spec) do |chunk, retrieved, total|
  # do something with the `chunk` of data received, and/or
  # display some progress using `retrieved` and `total` bytes.

# Download the file. If `target_file` isn't specified, the
# retriever will create a tempfile and return the name., target_file) do |filename, retrieved, total|
  # The block is still useful for showing progress, but the
  # first argument is the filename instead of a chunk of data.


See spec/support/app/views/file_handler/index.html for an example use case. You can also run rake app:generate to create a fully-functioning demo app in spec/internal (though you will have to create spec/internal/config/browse_everything.providers.yml file with your own configuration info.)

Development Testing

This is a Rails Engine which is tested using an in-repo "dummy" app, in the style of skeletons generated by rails plugin new --full.

Rails utilities

This gives you Rails-provided tools you can run in project home dir, like: ./bin/rails console, ./bin/rails server (to start the dummy app in dev mode), bundle exec rake db:drop db:create db:migrate (db management in dummy app).

Test suite

Full CI/test suite may be executed with the following invocation:

bundle exec rake

Or individually, bundle exec rubocop, bundle exec rspec.

Testing with different versions of dependencies

You can test with different versions of rails by setting ENV variable RAILS_VERSION to a specific version like "6.1.2" or "7.0.0", perhaps by export RAILS_ENV=7.0.0 to set it in your shell session.

After changing RAILS_VERSION you may have to run rm Gemfile.lock and bundle install again. If you get a Bundler could not find compatible versions... error, for instance.


The Samvera community is here to help. Please see our support guide.


This software has been developed by and is brought to you by the Samvera community. Learn more at the Samvera website.

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