0.1.3 • Public • Published

Desktop Uploader

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The desktop-uploader module lets you easily write a desktop uploader for a remote service such as Dropbox, S3, Google Storage, or your own company using Node.js. You define directories to watch and a function that uploads a file entry, and desktop-uploader handles the rest!


  • Recursively watch folders and files for changes
    • Uses native events (fsevents, inotify, ReadDirectoryChangesW)
  • Whitelist file extensions you care about
  • Persistent custom configuration values
  • Persistent per-folder custom configuration
  • Determine when a file is no longer being modified
  • Upload files using custom business logic
  • Concurrently upload many files
  • Automatically handle retries of failures
  • Keep a cache of info on already-uploaded files
  • Throttle aggregate uploads to a set bandwidth (e.g. 100Kbytes/sec)
  • Works with atom-shell and node-webkit for a cross-platform user interface

Improvement Ideas

  • Custom cache and ignore strategies (e.g. file hash instead of last modified time)
  • Upload bandwidth auto-detection for throttling
  • Allow manually adding items to the queue


Install like any other Node.js package, with NPM:

$ npm install --save desktop-uploader

Basic Example

Create a new desktop uploader instance. It takes an optional options object where you can set initial paths to watch and a few options, like the number of concurrent uploads and how many times to retry failures. Note: the uploader is created in a paused state.

var DesktopUploader = require('desktop-uploader').DesktopUploader;
var request = require('request');
var uploader = new DesktopUploader({
  name: 'my-cool-app',
  paths: ['/home/daniel/Pictures'],
  concurrency: 3,
  retries: 2

Now we need to tell the uploader how to actually upload a file when that file is no longer being modified, since this is specific to your service and API. Here we are assuming that we are going to do an HTTP POST to to the items collection using an OAuth bearer token for authentication. We'll be using the request library to make this easier.

uploader.on('upload', function (entry, done) {
  var url = '';
  var headers = {
    authorization: 'bearer abc123'
  // Create the HTTP POST request
  var req = {url: url, headers: headers}, function (err, res) {
    if (err) return done(err);
    console.log(entry.path + ' uploaded!');
  // Pipe the file into the request

Notice that you are piping into the request rather than reading it all into memory first. All that's left is to start the uploader:


At this point, the uploader is running. It is recursively watching all paths that you have configured and uploading new files.

Adjusting Paths

You can dynamically add or remove paths, as well as path-specific custom configuration.

// Add a new path to watch, with a custom configuration which sets
// an owner. Your `upload` method can use this configuration via
// the `entry.config` attribute.'/home/daniel/Documents', {owner: 'Kari'});
// Edit an existing watched path
var config = uploader.get('/home/daniel/Pictures');
config.owner = 'Daniel';
// Remove a watched path and its configuration

You can then access the custom config during the upload process:

uploader.on('upload', function (entry, done) {
  // Do your upload

Upload Throttling

It's possible to automatically throttle uploads, or set throttling to a specific value. If you use the to pipe data to an HTTP request then all concurrent reads will be throttled to the aggregate global throttle value. For example, if three concurrent uploads are being performed, then the combined bandwidth they consume is the throttle limit.

// Throttle to 100 kbytes per second
uploader.throttle = 100 * 1024;
// Disable throttling
uploader.throttle = false;

Advanced Example

You can find an advanced, real-world example that uploads files to S3 in examples/example.litcoffee.

API Reference

The DesktopUploader class is an EventEmitter and has the following events, properties, and methods, as well as those inherited from EventEmitter.


Event: drain

Emitted when the last item in the queue has finished uploading (or failed). At this point, the queue is empty and no items are being processed.

uploader.on('drain', function () {
  console.log('We are finished!');

Event: error

Emitted when an error occurs. The second argument, if present, is the filename which was being processed when the error occured.

uploader.on('error', function (err, filename) {
  console.error('Error processing ' + filename + ':', err);

Event: ignore

Emitted when a file has been ignored (e.g. incorrect extension, no longer being watched, etc).

uploader.on('ignore', function (filename) {
  console.log('Ignoring ' + filename);

Event: log

Log a debug message from the uploader.

uploader.on('log', function (message) {

Event: pause

Emitted when the uploader has been paused. The type argument will be either 'queue' or 'watcher' depending on which was paused.

uploader.on('pause', function (type) {
  console.log('Uploader ' + type + ' has been paused!');

Event: processed

Emitted after an entry is finished uploading (including retries) and is going to be removed from the queue. Parameters are the enty and whether the upload was successful.

uploader.on('processed', function (entry, success) {
  if (success) {
    console.log(entry.path + ' successully uploaded!');
  } else {
    console.log(entry.path + ' failed to upload!');

Event: queue

Emitted when an item is added to the queue. This event is fired after the item has been added or changed on disk and after a reasonable effort has been made to ensure it is no longer being written.

uploader.on('queue', function (filename, root) {
  console.log('File: ' + filename);
  console.log('Watch path: ' + root);

Event: resume

Emitted when the uploader has resumed uploading after being created or paused.

uploader.on('resume', function () {
  console.log('Uploader has resumed!');

Event: upload

Emitted when a file is ready to be uploaded. This is where you implement custom logic to asyncronously upload the file. The entry argument has the following fields:

Name Description Example
config Custom configuration set on root {owner: 'daniel'}
path The full path to the file '/home/daniel/Pictures/2014/IMG_8088.jpg'
root The watched directory path '/home/daniel/Pictures'
size Approximate stream length in bytes 102483
stream Read stream to pipe into an HTTP request ReadableStream

If throttling is enabled, then stream will produce data to keep within your bandwidth limit. This event may be fired multiple times before the first upload has finished.

You must call the done function to let the uploader know that it can process the next item in the queue.

uploader.on('upload', function (entry, done) {
  console.log('Uploading ' + entry.path);
  // Create an HTTP POST request
  var req = http.request({
    method: 'POST',
    hostname: '',
    path: '/widgets',
    headers: {
      authorization: 'bearer abc123def456'
  // Ensure we call `done` in all cases!
  req.on('error', done);
  req.on('response', function (res) {
    if (res.statusCode == 200) {
    } else {
      done(new Error('Bad response!'));
  // Pipe the file data into the request;

Event: unwatch

Emitted when a folder is unwatched.

uploader.on('unwatch', function (paths) {
  console.log('Unwatching:\n' + path.join('\n'));

Event: watch

Emitted when a folder is watched.

uploader.on('watch', function (path, config) {
  console.log('Watching ' + path);
});'/some/path', {my: 'config'});


Property: concurrency = 2

This value determines the number of concurrent uploads. If throttling is enabled, then all uploads are throttled to the aggregate bandwidth limit. Setting a concurrency limit of 1 means only one upload at a time.

uploader.concurrency = 5;

Property: modifyInterval = 5000

This value determines how often in milliseconds a file is checked to see if it has been modified. If a file has not been modified between checks, then it is eligible to be uploaded and an upload event will be fired. Defaults to 5 seconds.

Property retries = 0

This value determines the automatic retry count. Anytime the done function is called with an error during the upload event handler it is considered for a retry. The upload event will be emitted again up to the number of retries. Set to zero to disable retry logic.

# Retry up to two times (total of three upload requests)
uploader.retries = 2;
# Disable retries
uploader.retries = 1;

Property: tasks

A read-only array of tasks in the queue. Each task has the following fields:

Name Description Example
path The full path to the file '/home/daniel/Pictures/2014/IMG_8088.jpg'
root The watched directory path '/home/daniel/Pictures'

Property: throttle = false

This value determines the bandwidth throttling limit in bytes per second. Setting to null, false, or no options will disable bandwidth throttling.

// Throttle to 10 Kbytes per second
uploader.throttle = 10240;
// Disable throttling
uploader.throttle = false;


Method: Constructor

Create a new DesktopUploader instance in a paused state. Takes the following optional parameters:

Parameter Description Default
concurrency Number of concurrent uploads 2
configPath Directory to store configuration null
extensions File extensions to watch null
modifyInterval Duration in ms to check file writes 5000
name Unique name used for configuration 'desktop-uploader'
paths List of paths to watch []
retries Number of retries for failures 0
saveInterval Duration in ms to save configuration 10000
throttle Limit bandwidth in bytes per second null

Note: extensions are not case-sensitive. You should always supply them in lowercase.

var uploader = new DesktopUploader({
  name: 'my-cool-uploader',
  configPath: process.env.HOME,
  paths: ['/some/path', '/another/path'],
  extensions: ['jpg', 'png'],
  throttle: 250 * 1024,
  retries: 1

Method: get

Get the configuration for a particular watched directory by its path. You may modify the returned object. If not path is passed, then it returns an object where the keys are paths and the values are configs.

var config = uploader.get('/some/path'); = 3;
var paths = uploader.get();
console.log(paths['/some/path'].foo); // Prints out 3

Method: pause

Temporarily stop the uploader from firing upload events. Existing in-flight items will complete, but no new items will be processed until resume has been called. File system events will continue to add items on to the queue.


Method: pauseWatcher

Temporarily ignore all file system events. No new or changed items will be added to the queue until resume has been called. The upload event will continue to be called for existing items in the queue. See the pause method to prevent items already in the queue from being processed.


Method: resume

Start or resume the uploader and watcher. Since the uploader and watcher are created in a paused state, you must call this method to begin watching and uploading. Until this method is called, no items will be added to the queue and no upload events are fired.


Method: save

Give a hint that the uploader should save its configuration to disk in the near future. If immediate is true, then save to disk right now. If immediate is false, then at most saveInterval milliseconds (see the constructor method) will pass before the file is saved. When your app is about to exit, you must remember to force an immediate save, otherwise data may be lost.

// Save in the near future, when convenient;
// Useful to call on app exit;

Method: unwatch

Remove a directory from being watched.


Method: watch

Add a new directory to recursively watch, with an optional config. The config will be saved between runs and is accessible during the upload event via entry.config.'/some/path', {
  some: 'optional configuration goes here',
  foo: 2


This project uses Gulp and is written using CoffeeScript. That means that you do not edit the .js files in the lib folder - those are generated by the build system. Instead, you work on the src folder. You can get started like so:

$ sudo npm install -g gulp
$ git clone
cd node-desktop-uploader
$ npm install

You can edit and then compile the source via:

$ gulp compile

You can test in a Node shell via:

> var DesktopUploader = require('./lib/main').DesktopUploader;
> uploader = new DesktopUploader();
> ...

You can run the unit tests via:

$ gulp test

Pull requests are welcome, so please fork the project and submit one! Please keep in mind that any new features should include unit tests coverage, or they may be rejected.



npm i desktop-uploader

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  • danielgtaylor