File descriptor

What is a FileDescriptor?

A FileDescriptor is the URI of a single file resource in the system. It can be represented as a string, for example:


A FileDescriptor is made up of several segments:

Repository id

The unique id of the FileRepository where this file is located (my-repository). A repository id is always required.

Folder id

The id of the folder in the repository where this file is located (my/folder). A folder is optional. If none is specified, the root folder of the owning repository will be used.


The name of the file in the specified folder (or root location of the repository if no folder specified). In our example the filename is file.txt. The filename is required, but it does not need to have an extension.

Most characters are allowed in descriptor segments, with the following exceptions:

  • colon (:) is not allowed

  • backward slash (\) will always be replaced by forward slash (/)

  • if a string representation contains no folder id segment, forward slash (/) will be used as a folder separator

In the string representation the different segments are separated with a colon.

FileDescriptor examples

Different string versions will result in the same FileDescriptor when converted.

URI Repository id Folder id Filename



















Parsing a string URI to a FileDescriptor can be done with FileDescriptor.of().

FileDescriptor.of( "my-repository:folder:filename" )

Calling FileDescriptor.toString() will give you the normalized string representation.

The Spring ConversionService can automatically convert a String to a FileDescriptor, making it easy to use in data binding scenarios.

File extension

A FileDescriptor optionally has a file extension. The extension is simply the fragment after the last . of the filename segment.

FileDescriptor descriptor = FileDescriptor.of( "my-repository:folder:filename.txt" );
String extension = descriptor.getExtension(); // would be txt

File extensions are often used for automatic mime type detection.

If a filename has no extension, the return value for FileDescriptor.getExtension() will be an empty string.

FileDescriptor and resource URI

Unlike with regular resource and protocol locations, there is no link between the file descriptor and the physical storage.

The repository id will determine which repository should be used, and its underlying implementation determines how the folder id and filename are interpreted. There is no actual requirement for a FileRepository implementation to resemble regular file storage.

For example the following resource URI:


Could be represented by either of the following file descriptors:


Repository with id storage would be a LocalFileRepository that has /storage as root folder. Alternatively repository with id images could be a LocalFileRepository with /storage/images as root folder.


Storing direct resource URIs has the risk of having to update them whenever the underlying storage changes. With file descriptors, you can change the repository implementation without having to update the stored descriptors.

FileDescriptor as resource URI

When FileManagerModule is present, a FileDescriptor can be used as a resource URI for Spring Resource resolving.

The resource URI of file descriptor is the string representation prefixed with axfs://.

applicationContext.getResource( "axfs://my-repository:my/folder:myfile.txt" )
applicationContext.getResources( "axfs://my-repository:my/folder/my-resource-*.txt" )

The resources returned will be the actual FileResource implementation, which extends Spring’s WritableResource.

Resources can only be resolved if both the FileManager and required repositories are available. You should pay special attention to this if you want to use FileManager resources during the bootstrap of your application.