We’ve been working on a Rails app that uploads images using carrierwave. We wanted to extend this functionality to enable our friends at Steamclock to build a mobile app that upload images as well. In order to make collaboration easy, we decided to follow the JSON API specification and to generate the API documentation.

Here are the tools that we are going to use

  • carrierwave-base64 - Upload files encoded as base64 to carrierwave.
  • jsonapi-resources - provides a framework for developing a server that complies with the JSON API specification.

For The Stretch Goal

Add Models to DB and mounting the uploader

Implementing carrierwave-base64

We need a place to store the images. We could use a generator to create a Post table that has an image column which stores strings.

>$ rails g model post image:string
>$ rake db:migrate

With our generated model, we attach a base64 image uploader which will allow us to attach an object in the fields of our database. The code still looks like an ordinary carrierwave implementation – but with a really small difference. Instead of having mount_uploader in the model, we would add mount_base64_uploader instead.

# app/models/post.rb
class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  mount_base64_uploader :image, ImageUploader
end

# app/uploaders/image_uploader.rb
class ImageUploader < CarrierWave::Uploader::Base; end
# rails console
p = Post.new
base64_image = Base64.encode64(File.read(awesome_picture.jpg))
p.image = "data:image/jpg;base64,#{base64_image}"
p.save!

Now that can save a base64 image, we have to create an API endpoint that our mobile app can call so they can post images.

Creating the JSON API Endpoint

implementing jsonapi-resources

Although there is a lot more to explore in jsonapi-resources, I will only touch on just a few of its really cool features. I believe this gem deserves its own blog post on how much benefit it provides with just a few lines of code.

Now let’s create a jsonapi-resources controller and resource with generators that the gem provides.

>$ rails generate jsonapi:resource api/post
# => app/resources/api/post_resource.rb
class Api::PostResource < JSONAPI::Resource
  attribute :image
end

# app/controllers/api/application_controller.rb
class Api::ApplicationController < JSONAPI::ResourceController
  protect_from_forgery with: :null_session
end

# app/controllers/api/posts_controller.rb
class Api::PostsController < Api::ApplicationController; end

# config/router.rb
namespace "api" do
  jsonapi_resources :post, only: [:create]
end

Although the ApplicationController that we have written inherits from the jsonapi-resources controller, this can also be a normal controller that includes a ActsAsResourceController.

In the routes, we are using the jsonapi_resources method. This gives us a lot of useful endpoints. For the sake of this example, let’s just focus on a posting endpoint and add only: [:create]. Thus giving:

api_posts POST   /api/posts(.:format)           api/posts#create

This is actually all we need to post a base64 image through an API. From here we can use Postman:

curl -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/vnd.api+json" -H "Cache-Control: no-cache" -H "Postman-Token: 233cdeb0-ba65-7bd5-c550-8e8b79e181bb" -d '{
  "data": {
      "type": "posts",
      "attributes": { "image": "data:image/png;base64,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" }
  }
} ' "http://localhost:3000/api/posts"

Stretch Goal: Testing & Documentation

rspec api documentation

It is important to test and document API implementations. With rspec_api_documentation, we can do both at the same time. In my opinion, the best part of using this gem is that it does not generate wrong documentation for a failed example. Also, example documentation can be skipped with the document: false option.

First we need to tell rspec_api_documentation that we are going to be formatting the body to a JSON response by adding this helper:

# spec/rails_helper.rb
# Values listed are the default values
RspecApiDocumentation.configure do |config|
  # Change how the post body is formatted by default, you can still override by `raw_post`
  # Can be :json, :xml, or a proc that will be passed the params
  config.request_body_formatter = :json
  config.format = :json
end

Now that is all set up, we can start writing our test.

To set up our test, we include rspec_api_documentation dsl. This gives us wrappers to have headers to our requests and setting HTTP verbs as context. We also use resource instead of describe to define what we are testing.

# spec/acceptance/post_spec.rb
require "rails_helper"
require "rspec_api_documentation/dsl"

resource "Posts" do
  let!(:valid_base64_image){ Base64.encode64(File.read(awesome_picture.jpg)) }
  let!(:request_attributes){
    {data: {type: "posts", attributes: {image: "data:image/png;base64,#{valid_base64_image}"}}
  }

  header "Accept", "application/vnd.api+json"
  header "Content-Type", "application/vnd.api+json"
end

Below I have added a method that will be passed in a request method in my “example” (“example” in an acceptance test is analogous to an it block). A header method takes in 2 arguments: the header field name as a string and the header value.

resource "Posts" do
  # ... lines ommitted

  post "/api/posts" do
    example "Post a photo" do
      do_request(request_attributes)
      expect(status).to eq 201

      images = JSON.parse(response_body)
                   .fetch("data")
                   .fetch("attributes")
                   .fetch("image")
      expect(images["image"]["url"]).to be_present
    end
  end
end

Now, let’s examine what goes in the test. In rspec we normally use describe or context. In an rspec_api_documentation test, we use the http verb, followed by the path that we want to test. It also takes in a block that contains a do_request method. This method can take in an argument. In a GET request, it does not need an argument, but for our case, the POST request takes in a hash as an argument.

Run the test and generate the docs with:

>$ rake docs:generate

# Or just run the test without generating the documentation
>$ rspec spec/acceptance

The docs are available at localhost:3000/api/docs and with the help of apitome they look really cool! In essence, apitome is a wrapper for rspec_api_documentation to enhance the generated documentation.

Following the JSON API specification with the help of jsonapi-resources enables us to ship a consistent API with little effort.

Our friends at Steamclock take advantage of the JSON API iOS libraries to automagically map api data to models.

Finally, providing them with an up-to-date and tested API documentation is key to maintain an healthy relationship in an Agile world. :)

Here is an example app to play around with! Feel free to post images to this endpoint or read the generated documentation. You can also view the the repository here

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