Spring upload form optional with optional file

We are creating a profile page with a form that optionally has a profile pic on it. We are using Spring 3.2

Here is the form: –

<form:form id="editMember" modelAttribute="memberAjaxEditModel"
    method="POST" class="form-horizontal" enctype="multipart/form-data" >
    <form:input path="fileData" type="file"/>

Here is the controller method: –

@RequestMapping(value = "/{id}", method = RequestMethod.POST)
public String onEditPost(@PathVariable long id, @Valid @ModelAttribute(MemberAjaxEditModel.KEY) MemberAjaxEditModel model, BindingResult result) throws ServiceRecoverableException {

Here is the Model

public class MemberAjaxEditModel {

private CommonsMultipartFile fileData;

It works fine if a file is submitted on the form, but there are errors in the BindingResult variable if the form is submitted without a file.

Here is the error: –

Field error in object 'memberAjaxEditModel' on field 'fileData': rejected value []; codes [typeMismatch.memberAjaxEditModel.fileData,typeMismatch.fileData,typeMismatch.org.springframework.web.multipart.commons.CommonsMultipartFile,typeMismatch]; arguments [org.springframework.context.support.DefaultMessageSourceResolvable: codes [memberAjaxEditModel.fileData,fileData]; arguments []; default message [fileData]]; default message [Failed to convert property value of type 'java.lang.String' to required type 'org.springframework.web.multipart.commons.CommonsMultipartFile' for property 'fileData'; nested exception is java.lang.IllegalStateException: Cannot convert value of type [java.lang.String] to required type [org.springframework.web.multipart.commons.CommonsMultipartFile] for property 'fileData': no matching editors or conversion strategy found]


It turns out it was the jQuery Form plugin which was sending an empty string instead of what spring expects – nothing to be sent.

I solved the problem using a before submit to remove the fileData value if it wasn’t populated like so: –

 function beforeSubmit(arr, $form, options){
     var fileDataIndex = -1;

     $.each(arr, function(index, value) {
          if (value.name == "fileData"){
              if (value.value.length == 0){
                  fileDataIndex = index;

     if (fileDataIndex != -1){

I hope this helps some googlers with the same problem.