Need to parse a User uploaded file, but don't care if it's saved

parsing the file’s not the problem, just not sure what to do with it
before or after. I was thinking about uploading the files using
Paperclip, parsing it, then deleting itfrom the database. But, that
all seems a little unnecessary, especially if I don’t care if they are
even saved.

I then thought about grabbing them from the temp directory, but
honestly wasn’t sure how to go about doing that. So before I really
delve into the Tempfile, should I even worry about it in the first
place? Each user uploaded file will be like 30kb max, and I’ll only
be processing a couple hundred a month. Also, I’m hosted on heroku,
so the s3 transfers (if I do save the file) will be free. What ya

Any advice really is appreciated

Don’t know if this is any use - but you could just upload it yourself
(rather than using paperclip or file_column):

You can choose the directory that you want it saved in, then delete the
file as soon as you are done with it.


Sorry just to add that tutorial saves it in a model - but obviously you
don’t need to do that.

@Luke: Thanks! Yeah, I saw that tutorial, too. But, also like you
said, it still saves it to a model, so I’d rather just let paperclip
handle all that. Thank you anyway though.

@Jeff: Thank you!
For full disclosure, I’m still a little bit of a noob to Rails (and
ruby) but I think I get more than the gist of your code. So,
definitely a big thanks.

I do have a couple questions as to what’s going on though. Like I get
that the file is read, along with its contents, but where is it read
from? Like, is the file actually uploaded to a temp directory, and
you’re saying that I just don’t have to expressly mess with that
directory? Or, is it just held in memory in a Rails process
somewhere? Might that be worse than just storing the file, then
deleting it later?

I’m just asking, I honestly don’t know. Also, while the file uploads,
a Rails process is not tied up, correct? It’s actually being buffered
by the server?

A big thank you Jeff, and to anyone else that wants to chime in. I
think this is definitely a huge start down the right path.

re: where is it read from?: I use passenger to serve my rails apps
these days (all running on *nix), and per the passenger docs:

5.10. PassengerTempDir
Specifies the directory that Phusion Passenger should use for storing
temporary files. This includes things such as Unix socket files,
buffered file uploads, etc.

The default for that on *nix is the /tmp dir. So, under such a setup,
when a user uploads a file via the rails app, that uploaded file is
temporarily saved under the /tmp dir. That’s why I was saying that if
you didn’t want to save the file in terms of the app’s context, ie you
just want to parse/process the uploaded file’s content, you shouldn’t
have to do anything else with that /tmp file, since the underlying os
will handle that clean up of /tmp files as necessary.


One way would be to just process the uploaded-file data from the
request as needed and not worry about saving or doing anything else
with the tmp-saved uploaded-file itself, something like:

in ./app/models/uploadable_file.rb

class UploadableFile

for use in testing:

def initialize(fname, contents)
@fname = fname
@contents = contents

def original_filename
return @fname

def read
return @contents

class meths:

def self.parse(upfile)
return nil if upfile.blank? or not (upfile.respond_to?
and upfile.respond_to?(‘read’))

orig_fname = upfile.original_filename
contents =
# parse/process contents ....


Then just call that class meth in your controller to parse the
uploaded file for an example file form element of name “upfile”:

in some controller meth that handles that multipart/form-data


parsed_contents = UploadableFile.parse(params[:upfile])

check results …


So instead of saving the file somewhere, it’ll just grab it from the
tmp directory, parse it, then leave it up to Rails or the server to
expire the file after that request is over. Great, that’s exactly
what I want.

I plan on knocking this out tomorrow, and although I may have a
question or two once I delve into it more, I at least understand
what’s going on now.
Big thanks Jeff, really do apreciate the help.