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An example full-stack file upload workflow for Ember applications.


First, lets talk about the elephant in the room, why even manage all of this yourself? If your use-case falls into one of an existing service and that makes sense to you, then just do that. Here are some of those services:

But sometimes you can't get away with a prepackaged solution, maybe you need to process GPS data in a specific way, or maybe you can interface with something like AWS Elastic Transcoder but still need to manage the workflow surrounding the upload process yourself.


When it comes to file uploads, Ember is only a portion of the solution, we thought it was a good idea to provide an end-to-end implementation that demonstrates a real-world upload and processing workflow, not just Base64 encoding form data and sending it along as a string in a JSON object — don't do that.


Since we're experienced Ruby developers we've implemented the server portion with Ruby. Consider it a reference implementation, we'd love to see PRs for different server implementations. If you are curious, here are the different tools we use on the server and what they do:

  • Rails - Used for serving REST API that the Ember app consumes
  • Sidekiq - Multi-threaded worker queue, used for upload processing



S3 is used for storing the original file upload, it offloads the work from our servers and best of all by using this approach we get a redundant back-up of the original file. It's very cheap, and it supports resumable multi-part file uploads with CORS — exactly what we need.

Alternatives: We've had success using nginx-upload-module with 1.2.x branch of Nginx in the past. There are also Lua-based options for newer versions of Nginx like nginx-big-upload and lua-resty-upload that look promising. We really shy away from having file uploads go directly through the application stack, if you can use S3 or an alternative that promises the same functionality we think that is the best approach.


Pusher provides a robust publish / subscribe messaging platform that we use to stream events to the client when uploads are processed. You could host your own pub/sub implementation using something like the iconic (Node), Faye (Node/Ruby), or a long-polling solution like Sam Saffron's message_bus. You have many options and you aren't locked into Pusher, but Pusher is really great.


  • We'd love to turn the Ember part of this example into a library.
  • We'd love to turn the Ruby part of this example into a library.
  • But first we want to see what happens and get some feedback ❤️


An example full-stack upload workflow for Ember applications



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