Download file from server

How to download a file from server to client machine using React and Spring

4Young Padawans presents Download file from server featuring React | Spring

Recently I was asigned with a task to implement downloading file from server to client machine using web browser.
I've encountered on few specifics described below.


  1. Client side logic have to send HTTP GET request to remote server IP address with requesting file with a certain name.

  2. Server side logic should accept HTTP GET request and

    • read file from local file system and put it in response body,
    • set Content-Disposition HTTP header to attachment informing client how downloaded file should be treated.
    • inform browser that it is allowed to read additional headers from response by setting Access-Control-Expose-Headers HTTP header or otherwise browser will not be able to read Content-Disposion and Content-Lenght headers due to browser inbuilt security.

Server side - Spring

Let's create Spring controller and one endpoint capable to accept client's HTTP GET request and serve the requested file.

@RequestMapping(path = "/files")
public class FileController {

    private ApplicationContext applicationContext;

    public ResponseEntity serveFile(@PathVariable String filename) {
        Resource file = applicationContext.getResource("file:C:/test/" + filename);
        if (file.exists()) {
            HttpHeaders headers=new HttpHeaders();
            //instructing web browser how to treat downloaded file 
            headers.add(HttpHeaders.CONTENT_DISPOSITION,"attachment; filename=\"" + file.getFilename() + "\"");
            //allowing web browser to read additional headers from response
            headers.add("Access-Control-Expose-Headers",HttpHeaders.CONTENT_DISPOSITION + "," + HttpHeaders.CONTENT_LENGTH);
            //put headers and file within response body
            return ResponseEntity.ok().headers(headers).body(file);
        //in case requested file does not exists
        return ResponseEntity.notFound().build();

Client side - React

Step 1

Supposing you've already created React project, now create service.jsx file to setup basic client HTTP connection parameters

import axios from 'axios';
class Service {
  getRestClient() {
    if (!this.serviceInstance) {
      this.serviceInstance = axios.create({
        baseURL: 'http://localhost:8080/',
        timeout: 10000,
        headers: {
            'Content-Type': 'application/json'
    return this.serviceInstance;

export default (new Service());


  • baseURL is URL of server,
  • timeout is max timeout interval for axios server instance to establish connection with server. If server cannot be reached and this interval expires, axios will throw Timeout error exception.
  • header 'Content-Type': 'application/json' will be sent within request informing server that client expects json formatted answer.

Note that service is implemented using Singleton pattern. It means that Service object instance will be unique: constructed only once and later reused for all calls.

axios javascript library is probably all you'll ever need if you intend to send HTTP requests from your web page.

Step 2

Create file-service.jsx file using new service to setup Java Script Promise object for file download request

import service from './service.jsx';

export class FileService {
        //returns Promise object
        return service.getRestClient().get('/files/'+fileName,{ responseType:"blob" });

Note that we additionally instructed axios client to expect response type blob.

Step 3

Lets create React component for file downloading

import React, { Component } from 'react';
import { FileService } from '../services/file-service.jsx';
import { Button } from 'primereact/components/button/Button';
import { saveAs } from 'file-saver';

 export class DownloadFile extends Component {
    constructor() {
        this.fileService = new FileService();

     extractFileName = (contentDispositionValue) => {
         var filename = "";
         if (contentDispositionValue && contentDispositionValue.indexOf('attachment') !== -1) {
             var filenameRegex = /filename[^;=\n]*=((['"]).*?\2|[^;\n]*)/;
             var matches = filenameRegex.exec(contentDispositionValue);
             if (matches != null && matches[1]) {
                 filename = matches[1].replace(/['"]/g, '');
         return filename;

    downloadFile = () => {
        this.setState({ downloading: true });
        let self = this;
        this.fileService.getFileFromServer("test.png").then((response) => {
            console.log("Response", response);
            this.setState({ downloading: false});
            //extract file name from Content-Disposition header
            var filename=this.extractFileName(response.headers['content-disposition']);
            console.log("File name",filename);
            //invoke 'Save As' dialog
            saveAs(, filename);
        }).catch(function (error) {
            self.setState({ downloading: false });
            if (error.response) {
                console.log('Error', error.response.status);
            } else {
                console.log('Error', error.message);

    render() {
        return (
                <Button label="Download file" onClick={this.downloadFile} />
                <label>{this.state.downloading ? 'Downloading in progress' : ''}</label>

In previous code we used file-saver package that has good cross-browser implemenation for file downloading.

Step 4

Now we only need to put new component inside React's top level component (App.js file)

import React, { Component } from 'react';
import {FileDownloader} from './components/fileDownloader.jsx';

export class App extends Component {
    return (
        <FileDownloader />