I decided to write a quick blog post about this because much of the documentation and examples about this seems to be a bit scattered. What this achieves is the ability to upload any number of files with any other type of data in one request. For this example we’ll send up JSON data along with some files.

File upload directive

First we’ll create a simple custom file upload angular directive

app.directive('fileUpload', function () {
return {
scope: true, //create a new scope
link: function (scope, el, attrs) {
el.bind('change', function (event) {
var files = event.target.files;
//iterate files since 'multiple' may be specified on the element
for (var i = 0;i<files.length;i++) {
//emit event upward
scope.$emit("fileSelected", { file: files[i] });

The usage of this is simple:

<input type="file" file-upload multiple/>

The ‘multiple’ parameter indicates that the user can select multiple files to upload which this example fully supports.

In the directive we ensure a new scope is created and then listen for changes made to the file input element. When changes are detected with emit an event to all ancestor scopes (upward) with the file object as a parameter.

Mark-up & the controller

Next we’ll create a controller to:

  • Create a model to bind to
  • Create a collection of files
  • Consume this event so we can assign the files to  the collection
  • Create a method to post it all to the server

NOTE: I’ve put all this functionality in this controller for brevity, in most cases you’d have a separate factory to handle posting the data

With the controller in place, the mark-up might look like this (and will display the file names of all of the files selected):

<div ng-controller="Ctrl">
<input type="file" file-upload multiple/>
<li ng-repeat="file in files">{{file.name}}</li>

The controller code below contains some important comments relating to how the data gets posted up to the server, namely the ‘Content-Type’ header as the value that needs to be set is a bit quirky.

function Ctrl($scope, $http) {

//a simple model to bind to and send to the server
$scope.model = {
name: "",
comments: ""

//an array of files selected
$scope.files = [];

//listen for the file selected event
$scope.$on("fileSelected", function (event, args) {
$scope.$apply(function () {
//add the file object to the scope's files collection

//the save method
$scope.save = function() {
method: 'POST',
url: "/Api/PostStuff",
//IMPORTANT!!! You might think this should be set to 'multipart/form-data'
// but this is not true because when we are sending up files the request
// needs to include a 'boundary' parameter which identifies the boundary
// name between parts in this multi-part request and setting the Content-type
// manually will not set this boundary parameter. For whatever reason,
// setting the Content-type to 'false' will force the request to automatically
// populate the headers properly including the boundary parameter.
headers: { 'Content-Type': false },
//This method will allow us to change how the data is sent up to the server
// for which we'll need to encapsulate the model data in 'FormData'
transformRequest: function (data) {
var formData = new FormData();
//need to convert our json object to a string version of json otherwise
// the browser will do a 'toString()' on the object which will result
// in the value '[Object object]' on the server.
formData.append("model", angular.toJson(data.model));
//now add all of the assigned files
for (var i = 0; i < data.files; i++) {
//add each file to the form data and iteratively name them
formData.append("file" + i, data.files[i]);
return formData;
//Create an object that contains the model and files which will be transformed
// in the above transformRequest method
data: { model: $scope.model, files: $scope.files }
success(function (data, status, headers, config) {
error(function (data, status, headers, config) {

Handling the data server-side

This example shows how to handle the data on the server side using ASP.Net WebAPI, I’m sure it’s reasonably easy to do on other server-side platforms too.

public async Task<HttpResponseMessage> PostStuff()
if (!Request.Content.IsMimeMultipartContent())
throw new HttpResponseException(HttpStatusCode.UnsupportedMediaType);

var root = HttpContext.Current.Server.MapPath("~/App_Data/Temp/FileUploads");
var provider = new MultipartFormDataStreamProvider(root);
var result = await Request.Content.ReadAsMultipartAsync(provider);
if (result.FormData["model"] == null)
throw new HttpResponseException(HttpStatusCode.BadRequest);

var model = result.FormData["model"];
//TODO: Do something with the json model which is currently a string

//get the files
foreach (var file in result.FileData)
//TODO: Do something with each uploaded file

return Request.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.OK, "success!");