File Uploads and Downloads


In this chapter, you will learn how to upload and download files using the HTTPClient object.


A common need in a mobile application is to upload a file (like an image) to a remote server. You might also need download a file and store it locally on the device. For example, you might download starting SQL data for your app's database the first time the user runs your app. Luckily, both are easily accomplished with Titanium.

File upload

Assuming you have a server-side service which accepts file uploads, you should find upload fairly straightforward. Titanium handles the setting of headers and marshaling POST parameters for you, so you simply need to pass a Titanium blob object to send(). A blob is returned by many different Titanium APIs, including Below, you will find an example of how you might select a photo from the device photo gallery, and upload that blob to a web service:

	success:function(event) {
		/* success callback fired after media retrieved from gallery */
		var xhr = Titanium.Network.createHTTPClient();
		xhr.onload = function(e) {
			      message:'status code ' + this.status
		xhr.send({,  /* holds blob from gallery */
		    username: 'foo',
		    password: 'bar'

Note: this file upload process is only valid if using Mobile Backend Services services file update. The doesn't contain file contents but rather just the information about the file, location, size, dimensions, and so on.To upload the file, you will need to use Ti.Filesystem to get a handle on the file and access to the file itself. For example:

var file = Ti.Filesystem.getFile(;

if (file.exists()) {
	//file handling logic
} else {

Monitoring upload progress

Using the xhr.onsendstream event, you can monitor upload progress and update a progress bar. This event is called at regular intervals as the data is being transmitted. When the event is fired, the progress property of the event object will contain a value from 0.0-1.0 with the progress. That's exactly the type of value you'll need for a Ti.UI.ProgressBar.

/* Create a progress bar */
var ind=Titanium.UI.createProgressBar({
	width: 200,
	height: 50,
	min: 0,
	max: 1,
	value: 0,
	style: Titanium.UI.iPhone.ProgressBarStyle.PLAIN,
	top: 10,
	message: 'Uploading image',
	font: {fontSize: 12, fontWeight: 'bold'},
	color: '#888'


var xhr = Titanium.Network.createHTTPClient();

// onsendstream called repeatedly, use the progress property to
// update the progress bar
xhr.onsendstream = function(e) {
	ind.value = e.progress ;'ONSENDSTREAM - PROGRESS: ' + e.progress);

File download

Occasionally, you will also need to download and store a file from a remote server. In concert with the Ti.Filesystem module, you can fetch and save a file. Below is a cross-platform example for fetching a remote image and saving it to the applicationDataDirectory:

var win = Ti.UI.createWindow({
	backgroundColor: '#fff'

var loadingLabel = Ti.UI.createLabel({
	text: 'Loading ...',
	top: 20,
	left: 10

var image = Ti.UI.createImageView({
	top: 20,
	left: 10

var xhr = Titanium.Network.createHTTPClient({
	onload: function() {
		// first, grab a "handle" to the file where you'll store the downloaded data
		var f = Ti.Filesystem.getFile(Ti.Filesystem.applicationDataDirectory,'mygraphic.png');
		f.write(this.responseData); // write to the file
		Ti.App.fireEvent('graphic_downloaded', {filepath: f.nativePath});
	timeout: 10000

Ti.App.addEventListener('graphic_downloaded', function(e) {
	// you don't have to fire an event like this, but perhaps multiple components will
	// want to know when the image has been downloaded and saved
	image.image = e.filepath;

On iOS, a simple property of the HTTPClient object lets you save a file to the local file system. Below is an iOS-only example of how to fetch a file from a server and store it in the applicationDataDirectory, the primary location for any read/write Filesystem IO in a Titanium application:

var xhr = Titanium.Network.createHTTPClient({
	onload: function() {'PDF downloaded to applicationDataDirectory/test.pdf');
	timeout: 10000
// on iOS, you can use the file property to save a downloaded file
// though you must set it after calling open()
xhr.file = Titanium.Filesystem.getFile(Titanium.Filesystem.applicationDataDirectory,'test.pdf');

File storage locations

When downloading files, keep in mind the locations on the device you can access files. The following locations are potentially accessible:

  • Ti.Filesystem.applicationDataDirectory: A read/write directory accessible by your app. Place your application-specific files in this directory. The contents of this directory persist until you remove the files or until the user uninstalls the application.
  • Ti.Filesystem.resourcesDirectory: A read-only directory where your application resources are located; this directory corresponds to the project/Resources directory in Studio. The contents of this directory persist until the user uninstalls the application.
  • Ti.Filesystem.tempDirectory: A read-write directory where your application can place temporary files. The contents of this directory persist until your application fully closes, at which time the operating system could delete your files.
  • Ti.Filesystem.externalStorageDirectory: A read-write directory on the external storage device (SD card) accessible by your app, if such a location exists. Check first with Ti.Filesystem.isExternalStoragePresent() (which returns a Boolean).

The Ti.Filesystem.resourcesDirectory is read-only on a device, but is read/write in the simulator/emulator.

Monitoring download progress

As with uploads, you can use an HTTPClient callback to monitor download progress. In this case, it's the xhr.ondatastream callback. You'd use it like this (assuming you have a progress bar named ind as with the upload progress example):

// ondatastream called repeatedly as file downloaded, use the progress property to
// update the progress bar
xhr.ondatastream = function(e) {
	ind.value = e.progress ;'ONDATASTREAM - PROGRESS: ' + e.progress);

Hands-on practice


In this activity, you will download a large image file, uploading a progress bar as the file is downloaded. You'll save the file to the local file system, then display the image in an ImageView.


  1. Create a new Titanium Mobile project. You can keep the two-tab code or replace it.
  2. To the window, add a progress indicator centered in the window, 10 pixels from the top, with a width of 200 and height of 50. Set the minimum value to 0, max to 1, and current value to 0. Show the indicator.
  3. Add an ImageView to the window that will display the downloaded photo.
  4. Add an HTTPClient that will:
  5. Add an app-level event listener to receive the native path of the downloaded photo. Hide the progress bar and set the ImageView's image property equal to that native path to show the image.
  6. Build and test the image in the simulator/emulator.

References and further reading


In this chapter, you learned how to upload and download files using the HTTPClient object.

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