Dropbox REST API Part 5: File Upload

March 11, 2012

IntroductionDropBox Logo

In the last part of the Dropbox series, we handled file downloads. This time I’ll show you how you can easily upload files to your Dropbox account.

To follow along, download the code of part #4 (article 66) from the download page, unzip it and open the solution in Visual Studio.

Solution Explorer

Let’s get started…

Table Of Contents

URL Encoding

Before we continue, I want to address an issue that was brought to my attention in the comments of the previous parts. A lot of methods of the Dropbox API require that you pass a path parameter which represents the file you want to upload, download, rename…etc. This path parameters needs to be URL encoded correctly.

I use the HttpUtility.UrlEncode(…) method to encode the paths. However as I mentioned in the 3rd part, there is a problem with this method. Slashes (/) are translated to %2f, while Dropbox expects it to be all uppercase. That’s why I added the (private) UpperCaseUrlEncode(…) method to the DropboxApi type. It uses the HttpUtility.UrlEncode(…) method to encode the path, but it makes sure the escaped characters are uppercased.

Turns out that .NET’s HttpUtility.UrlEncode(…) does not follow the RFC3986:


For instance, one thing that it does differently is to encode spaces as ‘+’ signs instead of using ‘%20’.

In PHP they have two functions for this urlencode and rawurlencode. I could not find a substitue for the rawurlencode method in the .NET framework. So we need to modify the UpperCaseUrlEncode(…) method.

It’s not just spaces that caused problems, brackets “(” & “)” were also incorrectly escaped. ( should become %28, and ) should become %29.

Let’s fix this to make sure the ‘+’ signs (spaces), bracketes…etc. are correctly encoded.

At the end of the method I compose a dictionary of characters and their percent encoding equivalent. Next I do a “manual” replace of those characters.

private static string UpperCaseUrlEncode(string s)
    char[] temp = HttpUtility.UrlEncode(s).ToCharArray();
    for (int i = 0; i < temp.Length - 2; i++)
        if (temp[i] == '%')
            temp[i + 1] = char.ToUpper(temp[i + 1]);
            temp[i + 2] = char.ToUpper(temp[i + 2]);

    var values = new Dictionary<string, string>()
        { "+", "%20" },
        { "(", "%28" },
        { ")", "%29" }

    var data = new StringBuilder(new string(temp));
    foreach (string character in values.Keys)
        data.Replace(character, values[character]);
    return data.ToString();

Now it correctly encodes the spaces and brackets. If any more characters should cause problems you just need to add them to the values dictionary.

Take a look at percent encoding for more information:


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Uploading a File

Open the DropboxApi.cs code file (Dropbox.Api project) and add the following method to the DropboxApi type.

public FileSystemInfo UploadFile(string root, string path, string file)

The method has 3 parameters:

  • root: The root relative to which the path is specified. Valid values are sandbox and dropbox.
  • path: The path to the file you want to upload.
  • file: Absolute path to the local file you want to upload

You can call this new method as follows:

var file = api.UploadFile("dropbox", "photo.jpg", @"C:\Pictures\photo.jpg");

Let’s implement the method. First let’s compose the URL of the Dropbox API which we’ll need to call.

var uri = new Uri(new Uri(DropboxRestApi.ApiContentServer),
    root, UpperCaseUrlEncode(path)));

This will give you the following URI:


Next we need to sign this request using our little OAuth library.

var oauth = new OAuth();   
var requestUri = oauth.SignRequest(uri, 
    _consumerKey, _consumerSecret, _accessToken, "PUT");

Remark: For file uploads you need to use PUT semantics. You also need to specify this when signing the request. The OAuth code will use GET by default, this will result in an invalid signature and Dropbox will return a 403 Forbidden error. I modified the OAuth code a bit so that you can specify the HTTP method when signing a request. Check out the source code if you want to explore that part further.

Let’s create a request.

var request = (HttpWebRequest) WebRequest.Create(requestUri);
request.Method = WebRequestMethods.Http.Put;
request.KeepAlive = true;

Now for the easy part, let’s read the source file into a byte array.

byte[] buffer;
using (var fileStream = new FileStream(
    file, FileMode.Open, FileAccess.Read))
    int length = (int) fileStream.Length;
    buffer = new byte[length];
    fileStream.Read(buffer, 0, length);

Now you need to write this byte array to the request stream of the request.

request.ContentLength = buffer.Length;
using (var requestStream = request.GetRequestStream())
    requestStream.Write(buffer, 0, buffer.Length);

Voila, the request has been prepared. Time to send it and parse the response. Dropbox returns metadata for the uploaded file. We can deserialize this data (JSON) into our existing FileSystemInfo type.

var response = request.GetResponse();
var reader = new StreamReader(response.GetResponseStream());
var json = reader.ReadToEnd();
return ParseJson<FileSystemInfo>(json);

See how easy that was? Now you can upload a file using two lines of code.

var api = new DropboxApi(ConsumerKey, ConsumerSecret, accessToken);
var file = api.UploadFile("dropbox", "photo.jpg", @"c:\pictures\photo.jpg");

Check out the Dropbox REST API documentation if you want to explore it further and implement new features.


In part 6 I’ll come back to authentication and show you how you can implement a callback mechanism. This way Dropbox lets you know when the user has authorized your application.

You can download the source code accompanying this article from the download page. If you have any questions or suggestions please drop me an e-mail or submit a comment.

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21 Responses to “Dropbox REST API Part 5: File Upload”

  1. MV Says:

    When I try to upload a file of +/- 100 MB, the program crashes. I think the problem is caused by the buffer (byte array) which gets out of bounds (beyond the maximum value of an integer). Do you have any idea on fixing this problem? Is it possible to divide the byte array in pieces and send it through the request (chunked)? Thx!

  2. MV Says:

    I finally succeeded uploading the file of 96 MB, by setting the request.Timeout = 300000 (5 minutes). It takes a while uploading the file, but it works.

    Thanks for your help, I’m looking forward to part 7. 🙂

  3. Michael Says:

    Great series of articles. I got the code to work in console app but could not repeat process in Windows Phone. Any thought of extending the DropBox articles to Windows Phone orother mobile devices.

  4. Ratish Philip Says:

    This is an excellent series of articles. It was very helpful to me in understanding the DropBox REST API.
    Thanks a lot. Keep it up.

  5. ALi Akbar Says:

    I am having this error when I run this code

    System.Net.WebException was caught
    Message=”The remote server returned an error: (401) Unauthorized.”
    at System.Net.HttpWebRequest.GetResponse()
    at Dropbox.Api.DropboxApi.UploadFile(String root, String path, String file) in C:\Users\ALi\Downloads\Compressed\DropboxPart5\Dropbox.Api\DropboxApi.cs:line 144
    at _Default.Button1_Click(Object sender, EventArgs e) in c:\Users\ALi\Documents\Visual Studio 2008\WebSites\WebSite1\Default.aspx.cs:line 25

  6. sakthi eswar Says:

    I am having an error while running this code
    {“error”: “Call requires one of the following methods: PUT, POST, got GET!”}

    I got the requestUri below i mentioned

    can u tell me whats wrong in this signature and what should i do for resolve this error.

  7. tiepcyber Says:

    Reblogged this on tiepcyber.

  8. hey how to alter code to upload in some specific folder (say Picnic), every time I try to do some changes in the code, its throws “Forbidden 403 error”.

  9. joti parkash Says:

    i am getting the error on var response = request.GetResponse();
    the error is The remote server returned an error: (401) Unauthorized.

  10. joti parkash Says:

    public Uri GetAuthorizeUri(Uri baseUri, OAuthToken requestToken)
    var queryString = String.Format(“oauth_token={0}”, requestToken.Token);
    var authorizeUri = String.Format(“{0}{1}?{2}”, baseUri, “oauth/authorize”, queryString);
    return new Uri(authorizeUri);
    i want to pass the dropbox id and password from this method
    i want to avoid the login from browser please help me

  11. dev Says:

    first of all thanks,
    i am developing a application using dropbox rest api in windows phone.i almost completed my application.but i get error when i cancel upload.please help me.

  12. Danny Says:

    Firstly, thank you very much for the great article. However, I have an issue with uploading the file to dropbox. There is an error at the line 144 in the file DropboxApi.cs:
    var response = request.GetResponse();

    It said:
    An unhandled exception of type ‘System.Net.WebException’ occurred in System.dll

    Additional information: The remote server returned an error: (401) Unauthorized.

    I double checked my key and secret. Everything was right. So could you help me to solve this issue? Thanks a lot.

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