I was working on a DRF POST API endpoint where the consumer is expected to add a URL containing a PDF file and the system would then download the file and save it to an S3 bucket. While this sounds quite straightforward, there’s one big issue. Before I started working on it, the core logic looked like this:

# src.py
from __future__ import annoatations

from urllib.request import urlopen
import tempfile
from shutil import copyfileobj

def save_to_s3(src_url: str, dest_url: str) -> None:
    with tempfile.NamedTemporaryFile() as file:
        with urlopen(src_url) as response:
            # This stdlib function saves the content of the file
            # in 'file'.
            copyfileobj(response, file)

        # Logic to save file in s3.

if __name__ == "__main__":

In the above snippet, there’s no guardrail against how large the target file can be. You could bring the entire server down to its knees by posting a link to a ginormous file. The server would be busy downloading the file and keep consuming resources.

I didn’t want to use urllib at all for this purpose and went for HTTPx1. It exposes a neat API to perform streaming file download. Also, I didn’t want to peek into the Content-Length header to assess the file size since the file server can choose not to include that header key. I was looking for something more dependable than that. Here’s how I solved it:

# src
from __future__ import annotations

import httpx
import tempfile

def save_to_s3(
    src_url: str,
    dest_url: str,
    chunk_size: int = 1024 * 1024,  # 1 MB buffer.
    max_size: int = 10 * 1024 * 1024,  # 10 MB
) -> None:
    # Keep track of the already downloaded byte length.
    downloaded_content_length = 0  # bytes

    with tempfile.NamedTemporaryFile() as file:
        with httpx.stream("GET", src_url) as response:
            for chunk in response.iter_bytes(chunk_size):
                downloaded_content_length += len(chunk)
                if downloaded_content_length > max_size:
                    raise ValueError(
                        f"File size too large. Make sure your linked "
                        "file is not larger than 10 MB."

        # logic to save file in s3.

if __name__ == "__main__":

The chunk_size parameter explicitly dictates the buffer size of the file being downloaded. This means the entire file won’t be loaded into memory while being downloaded. The max_size parameter defines the maximum file size that’ll be allowed. In this example, we’re keeping track of the size of the already downloaded bytes in the downloaded_content_length variable and raising an error if the size exceeds 10MB. Sweet!

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