Thumbor is a free, open source image CDN that makes it easy to compress, resize, and transform images. This post lets you try out Thumbor firsthand without needing to install anything. We've set up a sandbox Thumbor server for you to try out at
http://220.127.116.11:8888. The image that you're going to experiment with is available at http://18.104.22.168:8888/unsafe/https://redly.dev/backdrop-filter/hero.jpg.
This post assumes that you understand how image CDNs can improve your load performance. If not, check out Use image CDNs to optimize images. It also assumes that you've built basic websites before.
Thumbor URL Format #
As mentioned in Use Image CDNs to Optimize Images, each image CDN uses a slightly different URL format for images. Figure 1 represents Thumbor's format.
Like all origins, the origin of a Thumbor URL is composed of three parts: a scheme (which is almost always
https), a host, and a port. In this example, the host is identified using an IP address, but if you're using a DNS server it might look like
thumbor-server.my-site.com. By default, Thumbor uses port
8888 to serve images.
Security Key #
unsafe part of the URL indicates that you're using Thumbor without a security key. A security key prevents a user from making unauthorized changes to your image URLs. By changing the image URL, a user could use your server (and your hosting bill) to resize their images, or, more maliciously, to overload your server. This guide won't cover setting up Thumbor's security key feature.
This part of the URL specifies the desired size of the output image. This can be omitted if you don't want to change the size of the image. Thumbor will use different approaches like cropping or scaling to achieve the desired size depending on the other URL parameters. The next section of this post explains how to resize images in more detail.
Try it now:
Click the following URL to view the image served at its original size in a new tab: http://22.214.171.124:8888/unsafe/https://redly.dev/backdrop-filter/hero.jpg
Resize the image to 100x100 pixels: http://126.96.36.199:8888/unsafe/100x100/https://redly.dev/backdrop-filter/hero.jpg
Filters transform an image. The filters part of the URL segment starts with
filters: followed by a colon-separated list of filters; this can be omitted if you are not using any filters. The syntax for individual filters resembles a function call (for example
grayscale()) containing zero or more arguments.
Try it now:
Apply a single filter: a Gaussian blur effect with a radius of 25 pixels: http://188.8.131.52:8888/unsafe/filters:blur(25)/https://redly.dev/backdrop-filter/hero.jpg
Apply multiple filter. Convert to grayscale and rotate the image 90 degrees: http://184.108.40.206:8888/unsafe/filters:grayscale():blur(90)/https://redly.dev/backdrop-filter/hero.jpg
Transforming Images #
This section focuses on the Thumbor functionalities most relevant to performance: compression, resizing, and conversion between file formats.
The quality filter compresses JPEG images to the desired image quality level (1-100). If no quality level is provided, Thumbor compresses the image to a quality level of 80. This is a good default: quality levels 80-85 typically have little noticeable effect on image quality, but usually decrease image size by 30-40%.
Try it now:
Compress the image to a quality of 1 (very bad): http://220.127.116.11:8888/unsafe/filters:quality(1)/https://redly.dev/backdrop-filter/hero.jpg
Compress the image using Thumbor's default compression settings: http://18.104.22.168:8888/unsafe/filters:quality()/https://redly.dev/backdrop-filter/hero.jpg
To resize an image while maintaining its original proportions use the format
0x$HEIGHT within the
size portion of the URL string.
Try it now:
Resize the image to a width of 200 pixels while maintaining original proportions: http://22.214.171.124:8888/unsafe/200x0/https://redly.dev/backdrop-filter/hero.jpg
Resize the image to a height of 500 pixels while maintaining original proportion: http://126.96.36.199:8888/unsafe/0x500/https://redly.dev/backdrop-filter/hero.jpg
You can also resize images to a percentage of the original by using the proportion filter. If size is specified in conjunction with the proportion filter, the image will be resized, and then the proportion filter will be applied.
Try it now:
Resize the image to 50% of the original: http://188.8.131.52:8888/unsafe/filters:proportion(.5)/https://redly.dev/backdrop-filter/hero.jpg
Resize the image to a width of 1000 pixels, then resize the image to 10% of its current size: http://184.108.40.206:8888/unsafe/1000x/filters:proportion(.1)/https://redly.dev/backdrop-filter/hero.jpg
These methods are just a few of Thumbor's many cropping and resizing options. To read about other options, check out Usage.
File Formats #
The format filter converts images to
png. Keep in mind that if you're optimizing for performance you should use either JPEG or WebP as PNG and GIF files tend to be significantly larger and do not compress as well.
Try it now:
- Convert the image to WebP. If you open the Network panel of DevTools the document's Content-Type response header shows that the server returned a WebP image: http://220.127.116.11:8888/unsafe/filters:format(webp)/https://redly.dev/backdrop-filter/hero.jpg
Next Steps #
Try out other filters and transformations on the
If you're following along using your own Thumbor installation, check out the appendix below that explains how and why to use the
Many of the configuration options discussed in this post, plus many others, can be established as defaults by setting up and using a
thumbor.conf configuration file. Settings in the
thumbor.conf file will be applied to all images unless overridden by the URL string parameters.
thumbor-configcommand to create a new
thumbor-config > ./thumbor.conf
Open your new
thumbor-configcommand generated a file that lists and explains all Thumbor configuration options.
Configure settings by uncommenting lines and changing the default values. You may find it useful to set the following settings:
Run Thumbor with the
--confflag to use your
thumbor --conf /path/to/thumbor.conf