Google App Engine

Blobstore Java API Overview

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The Blobstore API allows your application to serve data objects, called blobs, that are much larger than the size allowed for objects in the Datastore service. Blobs are useful for serving large files, such as video or image files, and for allowing users to upload large data files. Blobs are created by uploading a file through an HTTP request. Typically, your applications will do this by presenting a form with a file upload field to the user. When the form is submitted, the Blobstore creates a blob from the file's contents and returns an opaque reference to the blob, called a blob key, which you can later use to serve the blob. The application can serve the complete blob value in response to a user request, or it can read the value directly using a streaming file-like interface.

  1. Introducing the Blobstore
  2. Using the Blobstore
  3. Uploading a blob
  4. Serving a blob
  5. Complete sample application
  6. Using the Images service with the Blobstore
  7. Using the Blobstore API with Google Cloud Storage
  8. Writing files to the Blobstore using the Files APIDeprecated!
  9. Quotas and limits

Introducing the Blobstore

Google App Engine includes the Blobstore service, which allows applications to serve data objects limited only by the amount of data that can be uploaded or downloaded over a single HTTP connection. These objects are called Blobstore values, or blobs. Blobstore values are served as responses from request handlers and are created as uploads via web forms. Applications do not create blob data directly; instead, blobs are created indirectly, by a submitted web form or other HTTP POST request. Blobstore values can be served to the user, or accessed by the application in a file-like stream, using the Blobstore API.

To prompt a user to upload a Blobstore value, your application presents a web form with a file upload field. The application generates the form's action URL by calling the Blobstore API. The user's browser uploads the file directly to the Blobstore via the generated URL. Blobstore then stores the blob, rewrites the request to contain the blob key, and passes it to a path in your application. A request handler at that path in your application can perform additional form processing.

To serve a blob, your application sets a header on the outgoing response, and App Engine replaces the response with the blob value.

Blobs can't be modified after they're created, though they can be deleted. Each blob has a corresponding blob info record, stored in the datastore, that provides details about the blob, such as its creation time and content type. You can use the blob key to fetch blob info records and query their properties.

An application can read a Blobstore value a portion at a time using an API call. The size of the portion can be up to the maximum size of an API return value. This size is a little less than 32 megabytes, represented in Java by the constant com.google.appengine.api.blobstore.BlobstoreService.MAX_BLOB_FETCH_SIZE. An application cannot create or modify Blobstore values except through files uploaded by the user.

Using the Blobstore

Applications can use the Blobstore to accept large files as uploads from users and to serve those files. Files are called blobs once they're uploaded. Applications don't access blobs directly. Instead, applications work with blobs through blob info entities (represented by the BlobInfo class) in the datastore.

The user creates a blob by submitting an HTML form that includes one or more file input fields. Your application sets blobstoreService.createUploadUrl() as the destination (action) of this form, passing the function a URL path of a handler in your application. When the user submits the form, the user's browser uploads the specified files directly to the Blobstore. The Blobstore rewrites the user's request and stores the uploaded file data, replacing the uploaded file data with one or more corresponding blob keys, then passes the rewritten request to the handler at the URL path you provided to blobstoreService.createUploadUrl(). This handler can do additional processing based on the blob key.

The application can read portions of a Blobstore value using a file-like streaming interface. See the BlobstoreInputStream class.

Uploading a blob

To create and upload a blob, follow this procedure:

1. Create an upload URL

Call blobstoreService.createUploadUrl to create an upload URL for the form that the user will fill out, passing the application path to load when the POST of the form is completed.

<body>
    <form action="<%= blobstoreService.createUploadUrl("/upload") %>" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data">
        <input type="file" name="myFile">
        <input type="submit" value="Submit">
    </form>
</body>

Note that this is how the upload form would look if it were created as a JSP.

2. Create an upload form

The form must include a file upload field, and the form's enctype must be set to multipart/form-data. When the user submits the form, the POST is handled by the Blobstore API, which creates the blob. The API also creates an info record for the blob and stores the record in the datastore, and passes the rewritten request to your application on the given path as a blob key.

3. Implement upload handler

In this handler, you can store the blob key with the rest of your application's data model. The blob key itself remains accessible from the blob info entity in the datastore. Note that after the user submits the form and your handler is called, the blob has already been saved and the blob info added to the datastore. If your application doesn't want to keep the blob, you should delete the blob immediately to prevent it from becoming orphaned:

In the following code, the getUploadedBlobs method returns a set of blobs that have been uploaded. The Map object is a list that associates the names of the upload fields to the blobs they contained.

Map<String, BlobKey> blobs = blobstoreService.getUploadedBlobs(req);
BlobKey blobKey = blobs.get("myFile");

if (blobKey == null) {
    res.sendRedirect("/");
} else {
    res.sendRedirect("/serve?blob-key=" + blobKey.getKeyString());
}

When the Blobstore rewrites the user's request, the MIME parts of the uploaded files have their bodies emptied, and the blob key is added as a MIME part header. All other form fields and parts are preserved and passed to the upload handler. If you don't specify a content type, the Blobstore will try to infer it from the file extension. If no content type can be determined, the newly created blob is assigned content type application/octet-stream.

Serving a blob

To serve blobs, you must include a blob download handler as a path in your application. This handler should pass the blob key for the desired blob to blobstoreService.serve(blobKey, res);. In this example, the blob key is passed to the download handler as the URL argument (req.getParameter('blob-key')). In practice, the download handler can get the blob key by any means you choose, such as through another method or user action.

public void doGet(HttpServletRequest req, HttpServletResponse res)
    throws IOException {
        BlobKey blobKey = new BlobKey(req.getParameter("blob-key"));
        blobstoreService.serve(blobKey, res);

Blobs can be served from any application URL. To serve a blob in your application, you put a special header in the response containing the blob key. App Engine replaces the body of the response with the content of the blob.

Blob byte ranges

The Blobstore supports serving part of a large value instead of the full value in response to a request. To serve a partial value, include the X-AppEngine-BlobRange header in the outgoing response. Its value is a standard HTTP byte range. The byte numbering is zero-based. A blank X-AppEngine-BlobRange instructs the API to ignore the range header and serve the full blob. Example ranges include:

  • 0-499 serves the first 500 bytes of the value (bytes 0 through 499, inclusive).
  • 500-999 serves 500 bytes starting with the 501st byte.
  • 500- serves all bytes starting with the 501st byte to the end of the value.
  • -500 serves the last 500 bytes of the value.

If the byte range is valid for the Blobstore value, the Blobstore sends a 206 Partial Content status code and the requested byte range to the client. If the range is not valid for the value, the Blobstore sends 416 Requested Range Not Satisfiable.

The Blobstore does not support multiple byte ranges in a single request (for example, 100-199,200-299), whether or not they overlap.

Complete sample application

In the following sample application, the application's main URL loads the form that asks the user for a file to upload, and the upload handler immediately calls the download handler to serve the data. This is to simplify the sample application. In practice, you would probably not use the main URL to request upload data, nor would you immediately serve a blob you had just uploaded.

// file Upload.java

import java.io.IOException;
import java.util.Map;

import javax.servlet.ServletException;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServlet;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletRequest;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletResponse;

import com.google.appengine.api.blobstore.BlobKey;
import com.google.appengine.api.blobstore.BlobstoreService;
import com.google.appengine.api.blobstore.BlobstoreServiceFactory;

public class Upload extends HttpServlet {
    private BlobstoreService blobstoreService = BlobstoreServiceFactory.getBlobstoreService();

    @Override
    public void doPost(HttpServletRequest req, HttpServletResponse res)
        throws ServletException, IOException {

        Map<String, BlobKey> blobs = blobstoreService.getUploadedBlobs(req);
        BlobKey blobKey = blobs.get("myFile");

        if (blobKey == null) {
            res.sendRedirect("/");
        } else {
            res.sendRedirect("/serve?blob-key=" + blobKey.getKeyString());
        }
    }
}

// file Serve.java

import java.io.IOException;

import javax.servlet.http.HttpServlet;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletRequest;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletResponse;

import com.google.appengine.api.blobstore.BlobKey;
import com.google.appengine.api.blobstore.BlobstoreService;
import com.google.appengine.api.blobstore.BlobstoreServiceFactory;

public class Serve extends HttpServlet {
    private BlobstoreService blobstoreService = BlobstoreServiceFactory.getBlobstoreService();

    @Override
    public void doGet(HttpServletRequest req, HttpServletResponse res)
        throws IOException {
            BlobKey blobKey = new BlobKey(req.getParameter("blob-key"));
            blobstoreService.serve(blobKey, res);
        }
}


// file index.jsp

<%@ page import="com.google.appengine.api.blobstore.BlobstoreServiceFactory" %>
<%@ page import="com.google.appengine.api.blobstore.BlobstoreService" %>

<%
    BlobstoreService blobstoreService = BlobstoreServiceFactory.getBlobstoreService();
%>


<html>
    <head>
        <title>Upload Test</title>
    </head>
    <body>
        <form action="<%= blobstoreService.createUploadUrl("/upload") %>" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data">
            <input type="text" name="foo">
            <input type="file" name="myFile">
            <input type="submit" value="Submit">
        </form>
    </body>
</html>

// web.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<web-app xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
   xmlns="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee"
   xmlns:web="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee/web-app_2_5.xsd"
   xsi:schemaLocation="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee
   http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee/web-app_2_5.xsd" version="2.5">

  <servlet>
    <servlet-name>Upload</servlet-name>
    <servlet-class>Upload</servlet-class>
  </servlet>
  
  <servlet>
    <servlet-name>Serve</servlet-name>
    <servlet-class>Serve</servlet-class>
  </servlet>
 
  <servlet-mapping>
    <servlet-name>Upload</servlet-name>
    <url-pattern>/upload</url-pattern>
  </servlet-mapping>

  <servlet-mapping>
    <servlet-name>Serve</servlet-name>
    <url-pattern>/serve</url-pattern>
  </servlet-mapping>
  
</web-app>

Using the Images service with the Blobstore

The Images service can use a Blobstore value as the source of a transformation. The source image can be as large as the maximum size for a Blobstore value. The Images service still returns the transformed image to the application, so the transformed image must be smaller than 32 megabytes. This is useful for making thumbnail images of large photographs uploaded by users.

For information on using the Images service with Blobstore values, see the Images Service documentation.

Using the Blobstore API with Google Cloud Storage

You can use the Blobstore API to store blobs in Google Cloud Storage (GCS) instead of storing them in Blobstore. You need to set up a GCS bucket as described in the Google Cloud Storage documentation and specify that bucket in the BlobstoreService createUploadUrl, specify the bucket name in the UploadOptions parameter. In your upload handler, you need to process the returned FileInfo metadata and explicitly store the GCS filename needed to retrieve the blob later.

You can also serve GCS objects using the Blobstore API. The following code snippets shows how to do this:

This sample is in a request handler that gets the GCS bucket name and object name in the request. It creates the Blobstore service and use it to create a blob key for GCS, using the supplied GCS bucket and object name:

BlobstoreService blobstoreService = BlobstoreServiceFactory.getBlobstoreService();
BlobKey blobKey = blobstoreService.createGsBlobKey(
    "/gs/" + fileName.getBucketName() + "/" + fileName.getObjectName());
blobstoreService.serve(blobKey, resp);

Writing files to the Blobstore using the Files API (Deprecated)

App Engine allows you to create Blobstore blobs programmatically, providing a file-like API that you can use to read and write to blobs. Some common uses of this functionality include exporting data and generating reports—or any function that involves generating large binary data objects.

You begin by creating a new (empty) Blobstore file using the createNewBlobFile method. This method creates a writable Blobstore file that you can open as shown below.

This is a low-level API. You can use the high-level mapreduce API to create Blobstore files based on datastore data.

The following sample shows how to create a new Blobstore file and manipulate it using the Files API:

// Get a file service
FileService fileService = FileServiceFactory.getFileService();

// Create a new Blob file with mime-type "text/plain"
AppEngineFile file = fileService.createNewBlobFile("text/plain");

// Open a channel to write to it
boolean lock = false;
FileWriteChannel writeChannel = fileService.openWriteChannel(file, lock);

// Different standard Java ways of writing to the channel
// are possible. Here we use a PrintWriter:
PrintWriter out = new PrintWriter(Channels.newWriter(writeChannel, "UTF8"));
out.println("The woods are lovely dark and deep.");
out.println("But I have promises to keep.");

// Close without finalizing and save the file path for writing later
out.close();
String path = file.getFullPath();

// Write more to the file in a separate request:
file = new AppEngineFile(path);

// This time lock because we intend to finalize
lock = true;
writeChannel = fileService.openWriteChannel(file, lock);

// This time we write to the channel directly
writeChannel.write(ByteBuffer.wrap
          ("And miles to go before I sleep.".getBytes()));

// Now finalize
writeChannel.closeFinally();

// Later, read from the file using the Files API
lock = false; // Let other people read at the same time
FileReadChannel readChannel = fileService.openReadChannel(file, false);

// Again, different standard Java ways of reading from the channel.
BufferedReader reader =
        new BufferedReader(Channels.newReader(readChannel, "UTF8"));
     String line = reader.readLine();
// line = "The woods are lovely dark and deep."

readChannel.close();

// Now read from the file using the Blobstore API
BlobKey blobKey = fileService.getBlobKey(file);
BlobstoreService blobStoreService = BlobstoreServiceFactory.getBlobstoreService();
String segment = new String(blobStoreService.fetchData(blobKey, 30, 40));

Quotas and limits

Space used for Blobstore values contributes to the Stored Data (billable) quota. Blob info entities in the datastore count towards datastore-related limits.

For more information on systemwide safety quotas, see Quotas, and the Quota Details section of the Administration Console.

In addition to systemwide safety quotas, a limit applies specifically to the use of the Blobstore: the maximum size of Blobstore data that can be read by the application with one API call is 32 megabytes.

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