A simple idea, but..... How to allow user upload and download of a PDF

Hi All,

i searched for this topic and only found an answer from 2015 so thought before i try such an old reply i might freshen up the subject with this topic.

I run a closed WhatsApp group for a number of Radio Amateurs in Spain (I am EA5IYK) and a few members have asked about a method to create a ‘marketplace’ so they can post pictures and details of second hand equipment for sale.

this is a subject i expect could easily spiral into a full time management job so i have not gone down that route at all.

Therefore a simple process of uploading/downloading a uniquely named PDF would be perfectly suitable for the purposes at this time.

Would any readers be able to advise of a modern way to do this using Freeway?

Thanks for reading.


Hi Mark,

You posted this in the Xway category, but it seems to be a question about Freeway so I’ve moved it to the Freeway category.

The way to upload a PDF file in Freeway is to use the Link to PDF Action. There’s also a Graphic Link to PDF Action that you can use if you want to add a PDF link to a graphic.

Thanks Jeremy, sorry, a slip of the tongue.

I really did mean Xway, i had used Freeway for such a long time!
hoover = vacuum cleaner syndrome.

therefore i actually ask is there a modern way to do this in XWAY, or is it the same answer.

[Moved back to Xway category]

You can upload a PDF in Xway by creating a Resource link:

  1. Select some text or a graphic
  2. Choose Link from the Format menu
  3. Choose Resource from the Link Type popup
  4. Choose Other… from the Resource popup
  5. Select the PDF you want to upload

ok this would appear on reading, to be how i add a PDF to the web site that i wish to be read by anyone viewing it, thats not the issue.

I do not wish to have to do this for a group member (unless its the only way to do it simply) and then republish the website to embed the new PDF.

what my question was is how to have a live website that allows a user to upload their own PDF from their computer to a page on the website without me doing anything.

this sort of function is going to be used by people to sell second hand radio equipment in the group and its going to be a continuous edit of each PDF, new stuff added and removed from the PDF so its a management nightmare i have no wish to start doing.

i was sort of expecting a light weight CMS of some sort would be required.


In that case, the Xway part of this question is that you would add an external link to a PDF that you and other group members would upload separately.

Some kind of content management is then needed to allow group members to edit and/or reupload the PDF file. A simple way to do this might be to create a separate folder that group members have access to via an FTP client - as @waltd previously suggested. This folder would contain the PDF file. If you named it “marketplace” and put it in the same directory as your index file, you could link to it from Xway using an external link such as https://[domain-name].com/marketplace/[file-name].pdf

There are plenty of scripts out there that you can use to upload a file on a server. The issue with them is that unless you are very careful and very vigilant, they can also be used to upload “root kit” software that will take down your server and all other accounts on it. I would recommend looking at Dropbox or Box.com or another big-name sharing software site, and see if you can set up a public drop folder there. I used that to build a resume upload system for the University of Pennsylvania a number of years ago, and it was really easy. I just used Box.com’s system to get the JavaScript, which builds an iframe in the middle of the page. When a new file is uploaded, I get an e-mail and it ends up in a folder in my Box account. But that was meant to be a one-way upload only, with no sharing. I am pretty sure that there is an option to use Box as a drop-in file listing and download source, too. That’s probably just a couple of check-boxes clicked in the setup script away.

The whole point of going this way is that then Box or whoever is going to be running anti-virus on their server, scanning the uploaded files for any exploits. You would not believe the number of security holes in a PDF, given that they can run a full JavaScript runtime inside themselves (for fancy form handling). It’s like embedding a browser with no security controls inside your own browser (which has a much sturdier set of protections). That’s a whole other avenue for attackers, since JavaScript can do some pretty powerful things both to anyone of your user base who clicks on the link, or even your server directly.


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Ok Guys, thank you both for excellent detailed replies.

i suggested PDF as its simple enough to create them and add pictures, so if they are such a vulnerability then using another way would be sensible.

sadly i have the thought this is going to be beyond what i want to do in terms of time with Xway and i need to find an off the shelf click solution that is not going to steal my time away from software writing that makes me some actual money!

If that changes i will be back to ask some more questions.

Thanks agin for taking the time.


This site is the one i have used for many years, it is super simple on the face of it, but is probably doing all sorts of stuff underneath.

i would use this still and point the members to it, but due to some very unwise people the UK is no longer part of the Euro zone and it is utterly impossible to buy or sell anything between UK and Europe without it being hammered by customs, making second hang gear more expensive than the new stuff over here.


i suspect it is actually not very secure and full of holes but by luck it is so obscure that only those involved in this market would know of its existence.

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Really, the ability to have multiple people contributing to a site is not what Xway and other web site builders are best at. This does sound more like a WordPress (WP) solution: install WP on the site (using your web host company’s ‘one click install’ or equivalent), set up your site with a WP theme, then add the other people to the WP back end dashboard as users. Give them the appropriate minimal level of permission (I suggest starting with not allowing anyone to actually publish something directly) and they can do what you want.

This is very much how I’ve set a site up for someone – they can add simple posts with embedded PDFs – although they also have the ability to publish something live after they create it.

This does mean giving up the design control that Xway gives you, and trying to make a WP theme look the way you want can be deeply frustrating, but it’s probably the most solid and reliable way to allow others to upload PDFs.

Hello Keith,

Sadly after many years of owning Freeway and using Xway it has come to the time that i have moved on and, as you suggest, into the murky world of WordPress where i will likely stay once i have learned how to make best use of it.

This is no means a reflection upon Xway, rather my needs outstripping the time i have to use this great product.