So what is File Upload and how does it work? File Upload or HTTP upload allows your visitors to send files to your web server using standard forms. In the same way that there are form elements that allow you to enter text and others that allow you to choose items from a list there is a form element that allows you to choose a file.

So what does a File Upload form element look like? Well here's a small and non-functional form containing a file input field.




Like many useful elements of HTML, File Upload was not supported in Internet Explorer 3.0 but was soon afterwards added in version 3.02. It is available in Netscape Navigator from version 2.02 onwards. So the great advantage of HTTP upload is that upload facilities are standard on virtually any browser that will come to your web site.

So what does the HTML look like? Well, much like any other piece of form HTML. Here's the code for the above.

<form method="post" action="file-upload-1.htm"
name="submit" enctype="multipart/form-data">
<input type="file" name="fileField"><br><br>
<input type="submit" name="submit" value="submit"><br>
</form>

There are only a couple of real differences. The input type of the upload is 'file' rather than 'text'. The 'enctype' of the form is 'multipart/form-data'. Multipart form data is an Internet standard (covered by RFC 1867) for sending lots of different types of information over the Internet as one bundle.

After the upload form has been submitted to the server we have to get the server to extract the file from the upload. We would expect to be able to do this using standard ASP. Although Microsoft browsers have supported multipart encoding from the moment that Microsoft got interested in the web, the standard form components they supply for web serving do not. This means you have to use a third-party component to do it for you.

When choosing your solution you should bear in mind that file upload is not as simple as it might seem. Just as one example, some browsers encode files before transmitting them! Internet Explorer on MacOS uploads files encoded as MacBinary to allow special Mac specific features to be transmitted. While Mac browsers will normally make up only 10% of your visitors, you should bear in mind your audience. In some picture related industries like publishing you may find that this proportion approaches 100%.

A related issue is that you can't really rely on either the file name or the mime type of the file as provided to you. Because of the cross platform nature of the industry a text file may be named 'readme' or 'readme.txt' or even 'readme 10\10\99'. Because the mime type is determined by the browser it could be anything from 'text/plain' to 'application/x-macbinary' to something completely meaningless. You have to make decisions on a case by case basis depending on what you are trying to do.

ABCUpload is designed to work around these problems invisibly so that you don't have to worry about them.