Voicey allows users to add voice memos. So far, we have created and tested our User and Memo resource.

In this section, we are going to add an audio attachment to Memos to enable us to have voice memos.

Setting up an Amazon S3 account

Before we can upload voice memos, we will need a place to store our audio files. We cannot store the files on the computer that houses our Rails application because is not designed to store lots of large files. Typically, developers will store large files in a content delivery network like Amazon s3 or Google cloud storage then store the url to the resource in a database.

Lets setup an Amazon s3 by signing up for Amazon here:

  1. Sign up for a new account if you don't have one. Amazon s3 Homepage

  2. Go to the Security Credentials page Security Credentials

  3. Create a new IAM credential

  4. Save your Access key and Secret

Adding Buckets

Amazon s3 stores our files in "buckets". Buckets contain related files. An example could be a bucket called voicey-development that will store all the files related to our Rails app.

  1. Go to the Amazon s3 Homepage. I have created a few buckets, your bucket list should be empty.

s3 Homepage

  1. Create a new bucket, give it a name and choose Oregon for the region

s3 Bucket First

  1. In the next section (Set properties) under manage permissions, set the permissions to "Grant public read access to this bucket".

s3 Bucket Read Access

  1. Hit next on the next steps then create your bucket.

Keep the bucket name and region in memory as we will use them for setting up s3 on Rails.

Using Paperclip

Paperclip is a Ruby Gem that enables us to have attachments to Rails models.

You can use it have audio, pdf, image, and video attachments.

You can take a look at the documentation here:

Paperclip Homepage

We will also be storing all our audio files in Amazon s3. We will go over creating an account on Amazon soon.

Lets add the paperclip and AWS-SDK Gem to our Gemfile:

# Gemfile
gem 'paperclip', '~> 5.1'
gem 'aws-sdk', '~> 2.3.0'


Paperclip uses ImageMagick so we have to install it:

brew install imagemagick

Now generate the migration for paperclip with:

rails generate paperclip memo voice_file

Run rails db:migrate

Add this configuration file to the application.rb file in config folder.

config.paperclip_defaults = {
  storage: :s3,
  s3_protocol: :https,
  url: ':s3_domain_url',
  path: '/:class/:attachment/:id_partition/:filename',
  s3_credentials: {
    bucket: ENV.fetch('S3_BUCKET_NAME'),
    access_key_id: ENV.fetch('AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID'),
    secret_access_key: ENV.fetch('AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY'),
    s3_region: ENV.fetch('AWS_REGION')

Your application.rb file should now look like this:

require_relative 'boot'

require "rails"
# Pick the frameworks you want:
require "active_model/railtie"
require "active_job/railtie"
require "active_record/railtie"
require "action_controller/railtie"
require "action_mailer/railtie"
require "action_view/railtie"
require "action_cable/engine"


module VoiceyApi
  class Application < Rails::Application

    config.load_defaults 5.1

    config.paperclip_defaults = {
      storage: :s3,
      s3_protocol: :https,
      url: ':s3_domain_url',
      path: '/:class/:attachment/:id_partition/:filename',
      s3_credentials: {
        bucket: ENV.fetch('S3_BUCKET_NAME'),
        access_key_id: ENV.fetch('AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID'),
        secret_access_key: ENV.fetch('AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY'),
        s3_region: ENV.fetch('AWS_REGION')

    config.api_only = true

Setting our environment variables

Since the configuration for paperclip requires that we setup a few environment variables, we are going to have to set them in our terminal session.

Lets create a file called .env in the root directory of our app and add it to the gitignore. It is going to house our credentials for Amazon s3.

touch .env

Open the .env file. This should be the contents of the .env file. Paste in your s3 bucket name, region, aws access key id and aws secret key.

export S3_BUCKET_NAME="your bucket name"
export AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID="your access key id"
export AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY="your secret access key"
export AWS_REGION="us-west-2"

We are going to load the environment variables set in the .env files to our bash session. We can do that by running the following command in terminal:

source .env

Run the rails server to verify that our Rails app is working

Model Attachments

Then add the following code to your Memo model.

has_attached_file :voice_file
validates_attachment :voice_file, content_type: { content_type: ['audio/mpeg', 'audio/x-mpeg', 'audio/mp3', 'audio/x-mp3', 'audio/mpeg3', 'audio/x-mpeg3', 'audio/mpg', 'audio/x-mpg', 'audio/x-mpegaudio']}

Your Memo model should now contain the following:

class Memo < ApplicationRecord
  belongs_to :user
  validates :title, :date, :text_body, :user, presence: true
  has_attached_file :voice_file
  validates_attachment :voice_file, content_type: { content_type: ['audio/mpeg', 'audio/x-mpeg', 'audio/mp3', 'audio/x-mp3', 'audio/mpeg3', 'audio/x-mpeg3', 'audio/mpg', 'audio/x-mpg', 'audio/x-mpegaudio']}

Updating the Memo controller

We need to update the memo controller to account for adding the voicefile_ attachment to Memos.

Lets add the voicefile property to our list of sanitized parameters in our memoscontroller.rb file:

params.permit(:voice_file, :title, :text_body, :date)

Your memo controller should now look like this:

class MemosController < ApplicationController
  before_action :set_memo, only: [:show, :update, :destroy]

  # GET /memos
  def index
    @memos = Memo.all

    render json: @memos

  # GET /memos/1
  def show
    render json: @memo

  # POST /memos
  def create
    @memo = Memo.new(memo_params)
    # Add the current logged in user as the creator of the memo
    @memo.user = current_user

    if @memo.save
      render json: @memo, status: :created, location: @memo
      render json: @memo.errors, status: :unprocessable_entity

  # PATCH/PUT /memos/1
  def update
    if @memo.update(memo_params)
      render json: @memo
      render json: @memo.errors, status: :unprocessable_entity

  # DELETE /memos/1
  def destroy

    # Use callbacks to share common setup or constraints between actions.
    def set_memo
      @memo = Memo.find(params[:id])

    # Only allow a trusted parameter "white list" through.
    def memo_params
      params.permit(:voice_file, :title, :text_body, :date)

Serializing our JSON responses

Because we need to render the audio URL for our memos, we will need to create a custom JSON serializer for our Memo model.

Serializers enable us to specify which properties we want to render.

  1. Add the ActiveModel serializer Gem to our Gemfile and run bundle install.
  gem 'active_model_serializers'
  1. Run:
  rails g serializer memo
  1. Add the following code to the memo_serializer.rb file under the class definition:
  attributes :id, :title, :text_body, :date, :voice_file_url

  def voice_file_url

Our memo_serializer.rb file should look like this now:

class MemoSerializer < ActiveModel::Serializer
  attributes :id, :title, :text_body, :time, :voice_file_url

  def voice_file_url

In the third step, we extract the storage url(s3) from paperclip and add it as a JSON field for rendering

Great! Now our app handles audio attachments to the Memo model.

Testing the audio attachments

Testing with an HTTP client (Postman or PAW)


Lets test the memo creation and file upload with postman.

Create a POST request to the memo route and fill in the body of the request.

Postman file upload

Writing integration tests for the audio attachments.

Lets test the audio upload functionality by writing some model and controller tests for Memo.


If you have feedback on this tutorial or find any mistakes, please open issues on the GitHub Repository or comment below.

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