Web Technologies

An Introduction to Cloudinary

I thought today I’d do a quick introduction to Cloudinary. Cloudinary is a SAAS product I’ve been using for a few years now to handle all of my ‘digital assets’. By ‘digital assets’ I mean images, although they do handle videos too. It’s somewhere to store all your images and videos.. “But we can just use S3!” I hear you cry.. well yes you can but Cloudinary offer so much more!


Yes they offer storage. You can upload images, either through their web console or via their API. (There’s good libraries for all the main languages). As an example I found a nice image, like this one from Unsplash.com courtesy of Vincent Guth.

The original image is a 1.2MB Jpeg file which is 6000 px by 4004 px.

Once uploaded the file gets a unique ID. In this case: vincent-guth-Sdc35GnHgvI-unsplash


Here’s the clever bit. Once I have the image uploaded and the ID I can do all sorts of cool stuff with it without ever touching Photoshop. All I need is to be able to manipulate a URL. So I can create a thumbnail of the image by calling:


What is going on?!

So the URL is split into various parts:

So in my thumbnail example above the only transformation I’m performing is setting the width to 200. The important part here is that this resizing isn’t happening in the HTML, it’s happening server side at Cloudinary. They are creating a completely new image on the fly when the URL is called and serving it.

Other Transformations

They have loads of available transformations. But here are some I use regularly.


Let Cloudinary compress your images. You can either specify the quality you want e.g. q_90 or you can let them choose for you with “q_auto”.

Width 600, Quality 95, Filesize: 49Kb
Width 600, Quality Auto, Filesize: 28Kb


By specifying e_grayscale you can create a colourless version.

Shape Transformation

You can specify a corner radius with r_20.


Hopefully I’ve given you a taste of what’s possible and you can see the power that Cloudinary makes available. This article only scratches the surface so I encourage you to sign up for an account and have a play around.