Django REST Framework upload image: “The submitted data was not a file”

Python Programming

Question or problem about Python programming:

I am leaning how to upload file in Django, and here I encounter a should-be-trivial problem, with the error:

Below is the detail.

Note: I also looked at Django Rest Framework ImageField, and I tried

serializer = ImageSerializer(, files=request.FILES)

but I get

I have a Image model which I would like to interact with via Django REST framework:

class Image(models.Model):
    image = models.ImageField(upload_to='item_images')
    owner = models.ForeignKey(
        User, related_name='uploaded_item_images',
    time_created = models.DateTimeField(auto_now_add=True)
class ImageSerializer(serializers.ModelSerializer):
    image = serializers.ImageField(
        max_length=None, use_url=True,

    class Meta:
        model = Image
        fields = ("id", 'image', 'owner', 'time_created', )

The front end (using AngularJS and angular-restmod or $resource) send JSON data with owner and image of the form:

{"owner": 5, "image": "data:image/jpeg;base64,/9j/4QqdRXhpZgAATU0A..."}

In the backend, shows

{u'owner': 5, u'image': u'data:image/jpeg;base64,/9j/4QqdRXhpZgAATU0AKgAAA..."}

But then ImageSerializer( shows the error

ReturnDict([('image', [u'The submitted data was not a file. Check the encoding type on the form.'])])

I wonder what I should do to fix the error?

EDIT: JS part

The related front end codes consists of two parts: a angular-file-dnd directive (available here) to drop the file onto the page and angular-restmod, which provides CRUD operations:

Drap & drop your photo here

# A simple `Image` `model` to perform `POST`
$scope.image_resource = Image.$build();

$scope.upload = function() {
  $scope.image_resource.image = $scope.image;
  $scope.image_resource.owner = Auth.get_profile().user_id;
  return $scope.image_resource.$save();

An update concerning the problem: right now I switched to using ng-file-upload, which sends image data in proper format.

How to solve the problem:

Solution 1:

The problem that you are hitting is that Django REST framework expects files to be uploaded as multipart form data, through the standard file upload methods. This is typically a file field, but the JavaScript Blob object also works for AJAX.

You are looking to upload the files using a base64 encoded string, instead of the raw file, which is not supported by default. There are implementations of a Base64ImageField out there, but the most promising one came by a pull request.

Since these were mostly designed for Django REST framework 2.x, I’ve improved upon the one from the pull request and created one that should be compatible with DRF 3.

from rest_framework import serializers    

class Base64ImageField(serializers.ImageField):
    A Django REST framework field for handling image-uploads through raw post data.
    It uses base64 for encoding and decoding the contents of the file.

    Heavily based on

    Updated for Django REST framework 3.

    def to_internal_value(self, data):
        from django.core.files.base import ContentFile
        import base64
        import six
        import uuid

        # Check if this is a base64 string
        if isinstance(data, six.string_types):
            # Check if the base64 string is in the "data:" format
            if 'data:' in data and ';base64,' in data:
                # Break out the header from the base64 content
                header, data = data.split(';base64,')

            # Try to decode the file. Return validation error if it fails.
                decoded_file = base64.b64decode(data)
            except TypeError:

            # Generate file name:
            file_name = str(uuid.uuid4())[:12] # 12 characters are more than enough.
            # Get the file name extension:
            file_extension = self.get_file_extension(file_name, decoded_file)

            complete_file_name = "%s.%s" % (file_name, file_extension, )

            data = ContentFile(decoded_file, name=complete_file_name)

        return super(Base64ImageField, self).to_internal_value(data)

    def get_file_extension(self, file_name, decoded_file):
        import imghdr

        extension = imghdr.what(file_name, decoded_file)
        extension = "jpg" if extension == "jpeg" else extension

        return extension

This should be used in replacement of the standard ImageField provided by Django REST framework. So your serializer would become

class ImageSerializer(serializers.ModelSerializer):
    image = Base64ImageField(
        max_length=None, use_url=True,

    class Meta:
        model = Image
        fields = ("id", 'image', 'owner', 'time_created', )

This should allow you to either specify a base64-encoded string, or the standard Blob object that Django REST framework typically expects.

Solution 2:

I ran in the same problem few days ago. Here is my django rest framework view to handle file uploading

class PhotoUploadView(APIView):
    parser_classes = (FileUploadParser,)

    def post(self, request):
        user = self.request.user
        if not user:
            return Response(status=status.HTTP_403_FORBIDDEN)
        profile  = None
        data     = None
        photo    = None

        file_form = FileUploadForm(request.POST,request.FILES)
        if file_form.is_valid():
            photo = request.FILES['file']
            return Response(ajax_response(file_form),status=status.HTTP_406_NOT_ACCEPTABLE)

            profile = Organizer.objects.get(user=user)
   = photo
            data    = OrganizersSerializer(profile).data
        except Organizer.DoesNotExist:
            profile = Student.objects.get(user=user)
   = photo
            data    = StudentsSerializer(profile).data

        return Response(data)

In front-end, I used angular-file-upload lib.

Here is my file input

Drop Images or PDFs


And here is my upload service


(function () {
  'use strict';

    .factory('UploadFile', UploadFile);

  UploadFile.$inject = ['$cookies', '$http','$upload','$window','Authentication'];

  * @namespace Authentication
  * @returns {Factory}
  function UploadFile($cookies, $http,$upload,$window,Authentication) {
    * @name UploadFile
    * @desc The Factory to be returned

    var UploadFile = {
      upload_file: upload_file,
    return UploadFile;

    function upload_file(file) {

      return $upload.upload({
        url: '/api/users/upload/photo/', // upload.php script, node.js route, or servlet url
        //method: 'POST' or 'PUT',
        //headers: {'Authorization': 'xxx'}, // only for html5
        //withCredentials: true,
        file: file, // single file or a list of files. list is only for html5
        //fileName: 'doc.jpg' or ['1.jpg', '2.jpg', ...] // to modify the name of the file(s)
        //fileFormDataName: myFile, // file formData name ('Content-Disposition'), server side request form name
                                    // could be a list of names for multiple files (html5). Default is 'file'
        //formDataAppender: function(formData, key, val){}  // customize how data is added to the formData. 
                                                            // See #40#issuecomment-28612000 for sample code





Hope this helps!