Ajax-like Unobtrusive File Upload

We use AJAX whenever we need to communicate with the server, without reloading the page. But this doesn’t function in the case of File Upload. In usual view, uploading files with AJAX is impossible! (FireFox/Mozilla can do this after change a setting in “about:config” – which we cannot guarantee for a lot of users).

When I was searching for any technique to upload file without reloading page, I found a script in www.webtoolkit.info . But it seemed very complex to me. Then I try to simplify their technique and its working great. So I thought why not share the technique with everybody?

First, look at the demo here to see how it works.

OK. Let’s get into the deep. What happens when we submit a form? The form is submitted to the action page and that page loaded in current frame of window. If the “target” attribute of form indicate “_blank” or any frame name of the window, the page loads in a blank window or in the named frame or inner frame. Here we’ll be using the second method.

First, take an inner frame in anywhere of the page. And set the display property of this frame as “none”:

    <iframe name="hiddenFrame" id="hiddenFrame" 
    src="about:blank" style="display:none" >

Now, just set this frame as the target of your uploading form.

<form name="testForm" id="testForm" enctype="multipart/form-data" 
    action="upload.php" method="post" target="hiddenFrame">
        <input type="file" name="name" /> 
        <input type="submit" value="Upload!" />

If we submit this form now, it will submit the file to the target script on the server (can be in php, asp etc.). The script will upload the file and will load the response in the frame “hiddenFrame”. As the frame is not visible, nothing about this loading will be seen by the visitors. Now, as the uploading page displays nothing after uploading your file, the response can be immediate. Although it’s not AJAX, this technique will upload your file without (visually) reloading page.

What more?

For many purpose, we might need a callback function when using AJAX. For this file uploading technique also, we will try to create something like that. First, we’ll write the callback function as a simple JavaScript function in the header of the uploading page:

<script language="javascript">
function trackThis()
var resultDiv = 
var uploadedImage = document.getElementById(‘UploadedImage’);

uploadedImage.src = resultDiv.innerHTML; 

alert("File Uploaded :" + resultDiv.innerHTML);

When the uploading of the server page is complete, it should print the JavaScript code in the hidden iframe, to call the callback function with the reference “window.top”. Any other required information also can be printed in specific DIVs. It will enable us to retrieve any response information using the innerHTML of any specific DIV (as shown in example callback function).


echo "Your uploaded file is: <div id=’result’>".$_FILES[‘name’][‘name’]." </div>";
    echo "<div id=’result’>Sorry! Error occured!</div>";  
echo <<<test
<script type="text/javascript">

Well, that’s it. This technique has already saved my ass once, see if it can save yours also when you need.


  1. Cool. This is heading to be a resourceful blog – where I might come to see if any of my problems being solved once.

    Great job anis bhai! Keep this blogging spirit up and soon the world will recognize your potential.


  2. its not excellent
    it not very good
    it not good
    it is very bed

    Because I don’t know php, so i cant understand it.
    But i think it will super duper for them, who will understand it.

  3. Anis vai,

    I’ve tried to use this technique in code igniter but failed.
    Would u plz help me?


  4. @Jahed
    Mr. Kabir of Right Brain Solution Ltd. already working with this technique successfully in codeigniter. You can contact with him or send me your code how u have tried. I will try to solve it.

    Anis uddin Ahmad

  5. Oh !

    You r realy a boss of the bosses. This article realy helped me. I’ve used it in code igniter and it works well.

    Go On ….


  6. Great job! This article help me a lot. I’m facing problems to upload images and submit forms using ajax. This article help me to solve the problem. I have successfully implement this technique to our internal framework which is by our company.

    Thankx again,
    Humayun Kabir
    Sr. Web Developer
    United Group International (UGIBD)

  7. Hello,thanks for this wonderful blogg, i really find many new things on it and i really loved the design of the blogg. I found it on yahoo. I also want to wish you a happy new year.

  8. Hello,I find out that your web site is incredibly instructive and helpful and we wonder if there is a possibility of acquiring More articles like this on your site. If you willing to support us out, we would be willing to compensate you… Sincerely, Alexis Marzan

  9. Wow! Well thats called a fantastic post, I never read care to read out a complete article but this one got my attention and trust me, That’s correct.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *