So then there are other ways of getting or saving files remotely, and also ways of storing data locally such as with the web storage API which is often the first go to solution for this sort of thing. However with some projects I might want to read a file on a users local file system rather than data that I am parking by way of the web storage API. Of course I can not just do so for what should be obvious security reasons, however there is a way of doing so that involves allowing the user to select a file that they do not mind giving access to. That is allowing the user to navigate to a location on there local file system, and allow for a file to be saved to loaded there at a given file URI.
Creating and loading files on the users local file system will involve the use of the FileReader constructor in conjunction with file objects and a file list input tag. In this post I will be going over a few basic examples of how to use this as a means of local storage of state.
1 - A basic js file reader example
So for now in this section I will be making a very basic use case example of the FileReader constructor that will just load a json file, and display the values in a div element. The JSON file will just be some very basic object that just contains a few number primitives. In a read project this might be some kind of game state file that will be far more complex, or exist as some kind of binary format outside that of JSON. However for just a basic example this should work just file.
The source code examples in this post are on github
1.1 - The json
So I will want a json file stored somewhere on the local client system, it does not matter where as long as it is a typical place to store files that contain data for something such as the home folder in Linux systems, or the My Documents folder in Windows. For this example the contents of the json file will just contain and x and y property value that will be used by the simple example that uses the File Reader Constructor.
1.2 - The basic.html file
In my html I will want an input tag with the type attribute set to file, as well as a div element that will be used to display data once it is loaded. In my script tag I will want to get a reference to the input tag and add a on change event in which I will be using the FileReader constructor by passing a reference to the file object in the event object of the event hander for the on change event.
In this example I am also using a load json method that will always return an object even if an error happens when attempting to parse the json, which might end up being badly formed json, or not even json to begin with.
When I have this example opened up in my browser I am able to open the json file and have the values displayed in the browser window as expected. Although this might not be anything that interesting the basic idea is there. I am able to open a file store in the local file system and then use that file in a very basic example of the file reader constructor. In a real example this json file could contain all kinds of state information that would be some kind of save state, and users could easily hack the values to cheat in the game of they wanted to.
2 - Starting a Copy and paste type system with text area elements
The file reader constructor is one great option for loading some kind of state into an web application, as well as saving such a state. However I am thinking that a good solution for this sort of thing would provide an array of options for this sort of thing. There is getting into cookie files, and the web storage API, but there is also looking into other options. One that comes to mind is to provide a way for users to copy and paste a string of data that represents a state and then click a load button. With that said this section is a getting started type section on this kind of solution.
2.1 - A storage.js module
So then for this section I am going to start out with the source code of a storage.js file that is the beginnings of a module to help with saving one or mode state objects. A full solution as I see it would be far more complex than this, but for the sake of keeping things simple here I will just be seeing about getting started with this text area idea.
Inside the body of an IIFE I have a private create UI method that will be used to create and append a text area element to a given container element that will default to the body element. I then also have a public create method that will create and return a storage object as I am calling it which in turn is what I will need to pass to the other methods in this module mainly the save and load methods.
When using the main create method of this storage model there are a number of options that I can use to set callbacks for various things that can happen when loading a state. For now I have call back that I can use to define what should happen each time a state is loaded, and also one that will fire when a state is not found. So then I can use the loaded option to create a new state from the saved data, and I can also use the not found callback to set a default clean state.
2.2 - Simple demo
Now that I have a module together I am going to want to have at least one simple demo to make sure that what I have together is working as it should thus far. For now I just want to try something out with a very simple game module if it can event be called that, where it just creates and returns a state that contains a money property. This is just so I have something that will serve as a game Mode that creates and updates a state object, in a real use case example there would be a bot more to this game module of course.
Anyway the main thing about this is that I just want to make sure that I can just mutate the game state in the text area element, and then click the load button of the UI to load the JSON in the text area and make that the game state object.
So far so good when I have this up and running it seems to work as I would want it to thus far, however there are a lot of ruff edges with this that would need to be addressed before I can call this a done deal project of some kind. There are more features that I would want to add when it comes to validation, as well as making the save state exist in some other kind of string format other than that of plain old JSON. Also there is making a more complex revision of this that will allow for the use of the File Reader constructor as a way to load test into the text area which would also be nice.
3 - Conclusion
The file reader constructor is then a great native way to allow the user to select a file to open to use in a web application, as well to save such a file. What is great about this kind of solution is that it allows for users to save and load data in a way that they are familial with that parks data on there local file system.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some users like to disable local storage, and cookies in there browsers. Although there is feature testing for this and informing they users that they should enable this, another option would be to give users an array of options for loading and saving a state.
Also the use of the fire reader api is just one part of making some kind of over all comprehensive solution for allowing users to save data. There is having some kind of solution that does not just involve using fire reader as a way to save and load state, but also using localStoarge, and also POST requests to some kind of back end system as a way to save data on a sever so a user can get to it from any ware.
There is also just using fire reader as a way to just allow for a user to upload some kind of local file of course rather than thinking in terms of save states. For example if I need to make some kind of system that allows for a user to load a file that can then be edited and summited as a profile picture of some kind.