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Christy Jacob for Appwrite

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Create an Appwrite File Backup Function Using the Dropbox API

In this tutorial, we will cover how we can leverage Appwrite’s Cloud functions feature to execute certain tasks when certain events take place in the server. You can find a complete list of available system events here.

In this example, we will demonstrate how we can integrate with a third-party storage provider like Dropbox to create backups of files uploaded to Appwrite. For the sake of this example, we will be using Dropbox’s Python SDK. A similar concept applies to other API providers like Box or Google Drive. So let’s get started.

Creating your Cloud Function

The first step is to create a Dropbox Developer account and obtain the Access Token. Now it's time to create the Cloud Function in the Appwrite Console. Head over to the Functions section of your console and select Add Function. You can give your function a funky new name and select the preferred environment. We will be using Python for this example.

Add Function

Let's Write Some Code

The next step is to write the code that will be executed and upload it to the Appwrite Console. Create a directory to hold your Cloud Function. Then create your main code file and a requirements.txt.

$ mkdir cloud-functions-demo
$ cd cloud-functions-demo
$ touch
$ touch requirements.txt
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We will be using two dependencies for this example

  1. dropbox
  2. appwrite

Add these to your requirements.txt. We would typically perform a pip install at this stage but that would install the libraries in the shared libraries path. We need the libraries to be installed in the same directory so that they can be packaged easily. Run the following command to install the libraries inside the local .appwrite directory. Appwrite’s Python environment will know how to autoload a file from that directory without any special configuration.

$ PIP_TARGET=./.appwrite pip install -r ./requirements.txt --upgrade --ignore-installed
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Great. It’s time to start editing the file. We start by importing the relevant libraries.

import sys
import json
import os

# Drop box SDK
import dropbox
from dropbox.files import WriteMode
from dropbox.exceptions import ApiError, AuthError

# Appwrite SDK
from appwrite.client import Client
from import Storage
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Appwrite's API returns a binary file as output whereas the Dropbox SDK expects a file path. So we will make use of a temporary file during the function execution. So let's define those variables.

TOKEN = os.environ['DROPBOX_KEY']
FILENAME = 'my-file.txt'
BACKUPPATH = '/my-file.txt'
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Now it’s time to set up the Appwrite SDK

# Setup the Appwrite SDK
client = Client()
client.set_endpoint('') # Your API Endpoint
client.set_project('5fca866c65afc') # Your project ID
client.set_key(os.environ["APPWRITE_KEY"]) # Your secret API key
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Note: Within the Cloud Function, you cannot use localhost to refer to your Appwrite server, because localhost refers to your own runtime environment. You will have to find the private IP of your default network interface using ifconfig (usually eth0 in Linux or en0 in macOS).

When a function is triggered by an event, we can obtain a lot of metadata about the event from some special environment variables that are exposed by Appwrite. A complete list is available here. In our case, we need the ID of the file that was uploaded, in order to fetch it. Appwrite conveniently exposes this information as an environment variable named APPWRITE_FUNCTION_EVENT_PAYLOAD. Let’s parse this JSON string to retrieve the file ID.

# Triggered by the storage.files.create event
payload = json.loads(os.environ["APPWRITE_FUNCTION_EVENT_PAYLOAD"])
fileID = payload["$id"]
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Using the SDK, lets fetch the file and save it:

# Create an instance of Appwrite's Storage API
storage = Storage(client)
result = storage.get_file_download(fileID)

# Save the file
with open(FILENAME, "wb") as newFile:
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We’re almost done. Now we will set up the Dropbox SDK and upload the file.

# Check if we have the access token 
if (len(TOKEN) == 0):
    sys.exit("ERROR: Looks like you didn't add your access token. "
        "Open up in a text editor and "
        "paste in your token in line 14.")

# Create an instance of a Dropbox class, which can make requests to the API.
print("Creating a Dropbox object...")
with dropbox.Dropbox(TOKEN) as dbx:
    # Check that the access token is valid
    except AuthError:
        sys.exit("ERROR: Invalid access token; try re-generating an "
            "access token from the app console on the web.")

    # Create a backup of the current settings file
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Let’s now take a look at the backup() function. Here we use Dropbox’s files_upload() function to upload our file and watch for some specific errors.

# Uploads contents of FILENAME to Dropbox
def backup():
    with open(FILENAME, 'rb') as f:
        # We use WriteMode=overwrite to make sure that the contents in the file
        # are changed on upload
        print("Uploading " + FILENAME + " to Dropbox as " + BACKUPPATH + "...")
            dbx.files_upload(, BACKUPPATH, mode=WriteMode('overwrite'))
        except ApiError as err:
            # This checks for the specific error where a user doesn't have
            # enough Dropbox space quota to upload this file
            if (err.error.is_path() and err.error.get_path().reason.is_insufficient_space()):
                sys.exit("ERROR: Cannot back up; insufficient space.")
            elif err.user_message_text:
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Deploying the Cloud Function

Before we can deploy our cloud function, we need to ensure that our directory has the following structure.

├── .appwrite/
└── requirements.txt
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There are two ways to deploy your function. Using the Appwrite CLI and using the Appwrite Console.

Deploy using Appwrite CLI (recommended)

You can easily deploy your functions using Appwrite CLI. If you have not already installed Appwrite CLI, please go through these instructions to install Appwrite CLI. Once installed, you can run the following command from the directory containing your cloud function to deploy your tag.

appwrite functions createTag \
    --functionId=<id> \
    --command='python' \
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The function ID can be found on the right side of the overview section of your function.

Deploy using the Console (Manual)

If deploying manually, we need to first package the function by creating a tar file out of our folder.

$ cd ..
$ tar -zcvf code.tar.gz cloud-functions-demo
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We can now upload this tarfile to our function’s dashboard by selecting the Deploy Tag > Manual option. Our entry point command, in this case, would be:

$ python
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Deploy Tag

Once created, we need to define a trigger for the function. In our case, we wish to trigger it whenever a new file is uploaded to the Appwrite server. So we would be interested in the storage.files.create event. The trigger can be enabled under the Settings tab of the function.

Function Trigger

Once the triggers are enabled, it’s time for our final step, Function Variables. Appwrite allows you to securely store secret keys using Appwrite Function Variables which will be available as environment variables to your program. The best part is that these keys are encrypted and stored securely on Appwrite’s internal DB. In this example, we have used two environment variables namely DROPBOX_KEY (Dropbox’s API Key) and APPWRITE_KEY (Appwrite API Key) so let’s add them to the Function Variables. Don’t forget to click the Update option once you’re happy with your settings.

Great! We’re done with all the setup. All that’s left now is to test the Cloud Function.


Now it’s time to test your shiny new Cloud Function! Head over to the Storage section of Appwrite and create a new file by clicking on the ‘+’ button at the bottom right. Choose a text file ( Or any other file. But be sure to rename the files in the code example appropriately. ) and click Create.

Upload File

Your Cloud Function would now have been triggered. You can check it out by heading over to Functions > Your Function Name > Logs

Execution Logs

Once the execution is complete, you can check the response from the API.

API Response

And in a few simple steps, we successfully deployed our first Cloud Function. The possibilities with Cloud Functions are endless! Stay tuned for more Cloud Function ideas from the Appwrite Team.

Learn More


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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