Filestack is a modular developer tool for file uploading. In the same way that Twilio makes it easy to integrate communications into applications, and Mailgun does the same for email, Filestack allows developer to easily integrate into 25 different social networks and cloud storage solutions – all with just a few lines of code. End users can upload content from websites and mobile apps like Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, or wherever that content is stored. Filestack enables developers to upload and store large files, transform and manipulate images and other file types, and deliver content across any type of desktop or mobile device.

Filestack’s API already powers file uploading for 100,000 applications globally and their new release aims to resolve one of the key pain points for application developers, and application users: mobile file uploads. Because of limited mobile bandwidth and rapidly changing connection points as users move around, upload failures are an all too frequent occurrence, especially for high-resolution images and video files.  These failed uploads are one of the most common sources of mobile application errors and a common source of frustration for users.

This is where Filestack’s Intelligent Ingestion comes in.  A new addition to the Filestack offering, it is designed especially for file uploads on mobile devices and aims to solve the file upload failure problem by smartly adjusting for network conditions. In action, Intelligent Ingestion continually monitors network conditions and, in reaction to those changing conditions, files are continually resized and retried until the file upload is complete. This new technology is built on top of the Filestack Content Ingestion Network – a global network of file ingestion points of presence (POPs).

Mobile traffic growing, mobile uploads still problematic’

According to CISCO’s Visual Networking Index, mobile data traffic has grown 18-fold over the past 5 years and, despite apparent widespread uptake of 4G networks, 33% of mobile users are still using 3G connections. As users turn to mobile devices, they have more trouble uploading files because of unreliable networks, throttles, and over crowded routes with some estimated putting mobile upload failures is often as high as 15%.

Many developers attempt to get around the issue of poor file uploads with resumable uploads, where they simply retry parts of the upload that fail. While that approach may end up with the desired outcome (ie the file uploaded where it’s meant to go), it does so at the expense of the customer experience which can have an impact in terms of greater abandonment and lower retention of customers.

Dual approach to solving the problem

Filestack’s new technology adds an intelligent aspect to resumable uploads: it not only retries the upload but also monitors and dynamically adjusts for network conditions to give a far better chance of success. The Filestack technology dynamically monitors network connection to properly chunk files into the correct sized bits to optimize for both file upload success and speed.

As with other developer areas, the biggest challenge Filestack faces is developers’ traditional attitudes. There is a tendency to over-simplify every problem area and make a decision to simply build something from scratch rather than leverage a standalone solution. Wayne Walls, Filestack’s CTO, reflects upon this fact:

At first glance, developers do not always recognize the challenges associated with uploading files. It’s only when they start to complicate their algorithms to improve upload performance with chunking, asynchronous uploads, automatic retries, adjusting for changing network latency, and updating for third party APIs, do they realize they’ve opened a Pandora’s box, and would have been better off relying on a pre-built solution.

Updated Software Development Kits (SDKs) and Libraries

Filestack can be seamlessly implemented into a wide variety of different applications via one of the Filestack SDKs. In addition to the Filestack JavaScript library, Filestack offers official libraries for Swift, Java, Python, Ruby, PHP as well as plugins for Ruby on Rails, Confluence, Salesforce, and WordPress.

MyPOV

Given the huge increase in mobile application usage, the timing is good for Filestack to resolve mobile uploading issues. As stated earlier, their biggest barrier to success is the attitude of “not built here” – where developers simply want to build all the technology themselves. More forward-looking developers, however, who realize that they’re better off focusing on the unique parts of their application, will like what Filestack is doing.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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