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File uploads are an important aspect of many Rails applications. In this article, we will look at how we can perform direct uploads to a Cloudinary storage account. If you’ve been using Heroku, by now you should know that its filesystem is ephemeral. That means that any changes to the filesystem whilst the dyno is running only last until that dyno is shut down or restarted. It’s why we lose most of the image references after a while. But, thanks to Cloudinary - and other cloud-based image storage services like AWS - there is a solution.

Cloudinary is a cloud-based storage service that offers an end-to-end image and video management solution for web and mobile applications. There’s a lot of information on the internet about the advantages of using Cloudinary cloud storage service, as well as Amazon S3. I will leave you to do the searching while we focus on the purpose of this article.

If you haven’t read my previous article  -  Rails Image Upload in 7 Simple Steps Using Shrine - please review it first, as we will be using most of the steps outline there.

I've also created a step-by-step video tutorial to walk you through this concept and the below steps.

Application Setup

Let’s quickly create a new rails app and add the required gem using rails new direct_uploads_with_shrine -T. You can choose any app name of your choice - yes I know the name is long.

Add the following gem to your Gemfile:

{% code-block language="js" %}
gem 'image_processing', '~> 1.2'
gem 'shrine', '~> 3.3'
gem "shrine-cloudinary", "~> 1.1"
{% code-block-end %}

Under the group, development, and test, add the dotenv-rails gem. This gem allows us to hide our API-keys from prying eyes 😃.

{% code-block language="js" %}
group :development, :test do
   ...
   gem 'dotenv-rails'
end
### Run bundle install
{% code-block-end %}

Before we proceed, if you haven’t set up an account yet, it’s easy to on cloudinary.com. For this application we are building, you’ll need your cloud name, API key, and API secret.

Now, create .env file in the root directory and add your keys.

{% code-block language="js" %}
CLOUD_NAME=yourcloudname
CLOUD_API_KEY=yourapikey
CLOUD_API_SECRET=yourapisecret
{% code-block-end %}

Notice, they are not in quotes. Don’t add any - just like that, save it and close. Add the .env file to .gitignore so it doesn’t get pushed to production or a public domain like GitHub to avoid exposing your keys.

Our aim is to typically upload photos directly to Cloudinary, so our shrine.rb under config/initializers would appear just a bit different from what we had when uploading to the file system.

{% code-block language="js" %}
require "cloudinary"
require "shrine/storage/cloudinary"
Cloudinary.config(
cloud_name: ENV['CLOUD_NAME'],
api_key:    ENV['CLOUD_API_KEY'],
api_secret: ENV['CLOUD_API_SECRET'],
)
Shrine.storages = {
cache: Shrine::Storage::Cloudinary.new(prefix: "cache"), # for direct uploads
store: Shrine::Storage::Cloudinary.new(prefix: "rails_uploads"),
}
Shrine.plugin :activerecord           # loads Active Record integration
Shrine.plugin :cached_attachment_data # enables retaining cached file across form redisplays
Shrine.plugin :restore_cached_data    # extracts metadata for assigned cached files
Shrine.plugin :validation_helpers
Shrine.plugin :validation
{% code-block-end %}

That’s it. 

We could just use store: Shrine::Storage::Cloudinary.new, but adding the prefix: 'rails_uploads' allows Shrine to create a directory rails_uploads in our Cloudinary account. This is a good way to keep things organized considering that we may use that same account for different apps.

Let's stop here for a moment. I ask that you continue from step 3 of  Rails Image Upload in 7 Simple Steps Using Shrine, so that I don’t need to bother you with the details, rather just the implementations.

Next Steps

Now generate your article scaffold and migrate.

{% code-block language="js" %}
rails generate scaffold Article title body:text image_data:text
rails db:create && rails db:migrate
{% code-block-end %}

Create your Image Uploader Class with your image validations.

{% code-block language="js" %}
# app/uploaders/image_uploader.rb
class ImageUploader < Shrine
 Attacher.validate do
   validate_mime_type %w[image/jpeg image/png image/webp]
   validate_max_size  1*1024*1024
 end
End
{% code-block-end %}

Associate your model with the Shrine image attribute.

{% code-block language="js" %}
# app/models/article.rb
class Article < ApplicationRecord
 include ImageUploader::Attachment(:image)
validates :title, presence: true
End
{% code-block-end %}

Update your article params inside the article controller and views to reflect image instead of image_data

{% code-block language="js" %}
# app/controllers/articles_controller.rb
def article_params
 params.require(:article).permit(:title, :body, :image)
end
# app/views/articles/_form.html.erb
## Replace
<div class="field">
 <%= form.label :image_data %>
 <%= form.text_area :image_data %>
</div>
## With
<div class="field">
 <%= form.label :image %>
 <%= form.file_field :image %>
</div>
{% code-block-end %}

Modify your article show page to display the uploaded image.

{% code-block language="js" %}
# app/views/articles/show.html.erb
<p>
<strong>Image data:</strong>
<%= image_tag @article.image_url if @article.image %>
</p>
{% code-block-end %}

Don’t worry, we are done here.

Now, run your application, make sure there are no errors, and try out the upload. Open your Cloudinary account to confirm your uploaded photo. 

Great job!

By now, you should be comfortable using Shrine to upload images directly to your Cloudinary account.

Happy coding!

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