Accessing the web page’s HTTP Headers in JavaScript

Accessing the web page’s HTTP Headers in JavaScript

How do I access a page’s HTTP response headers via JavaScript?
Related to this question, which was modified to ask about accessing two specific HTTP headers.

Related:
How do I access the HTTP request header fields via JavaScript?

Solutions/Answers:

Solution 1:

It’s not possible to read the current headers. You could make another request to the same URL and read its headers, but there is no guarantee that the headers are exactly equal to the current.


Use the following JavaScript code to get all the HTTP headers by performing a get request:

var req = new XMLHttpRequest();
req.open('GET', document.location, false);
req.send(null);
var headers = req.getAllResponseHeaders().toLowerCase();
alert(headers);

Solution 2:

Unfortunately, there isn’t an API to give you the HTTP response headers for your initial page request. That was the original question posted here. It has been repeatedly asked, too, because some people would like to get the actual response headers of the original page request without issuing another one.

For AJAX Requests:

If an HTTP request is made over AJAX, it is possible to get the response headers with the getAllResponseHeaders() method. It’s part of the XMLHttpRequest API. To see how this can be applied, check out the fetchSimilarHeaders() function below. Note that this is a work-around to the problem that won’t be reliable for some applications.

myXMLHttpRequest.getAllResponseHeaders();

This will not give you information about the original page request’s HTTP response headers, but it could be used to make educated guesses about what those headers were. More on that is described next.

Getting header values from the Initial Page Request:

This question was first asked several years ago, asking specifically about how to get at the original HTTP response headers for the current page (i.e. the same page inside of which the javascript was running). This is quite a different question than simply getting the response headers for any HTTP request. For the initial page request, the headers aren’t readily available to javascript. Whether the header values you need will be reliably and sufficiently consistent if you request the same page again via AJAX will depend on your particular application.

The following are a few suggestions for getting around that problem.

1. Requests on Resources which are largely static

If the response is largely static and the headers are not expected to change much between requests, you could make an AJAX request for the same page you’re currently on and assume that they’re they are the same values which were part of the page’s HTTP response. This could allow you to access the headers you need using the nice XMLHttpRequest API described above.

function fetchSimilarHeaders (callback) {
    var request = new XMLHttpRequest();
    request.onreadystatechange = function () {
        if (request.readyState === XMLHttpRequest.DONE) {
            //
            // The following headers may often be similar
            // to those of the original page request...
            //
            if (callback && typeof callback === 'function') {
                callback(request.getAllResponseHeaders());
            }
        }
    };

    //
    // Re-request the same page (document.location)
    // We hope to get the same or similar response headers to those which 
    // came with the current page, but we have no guarantee.
    // Since we are only after the headers, a HEAD request may be sufficient.
    //
    request.open('HEAD', document.location, true);
    request.send(null);
}

This approach will be problematic if you truly have to rely on the values being consistent between requests, since you can’t fully guarantee that they are the same. It’s going to depend on your specific application and whether you know that the value you need is something that won’t be changing from one request to the next.

2. Make Inferences

There are some BOM properties (Browser Object Model) which the browser determines by looking at the headers. Some of these properties reflect HTTP headers directly (e.g. navigator.userAgent is set to the value of the HTTP User-Agent header field). By sniffing around the available properties you might be able to find what you need, or some clues to indicate what the HTTP response contained.

3. Stash them

If you control the server side, you can access any header you like as you construct the full response. Values could be passed to the client with the page, stashed in some markup or perhaps in an inlined JSON structure. If you wanted to have every HTTP request header available to your javascript, you could iterate through them on the server and send them back as hidden values in the markup. It’s probably not ideal to send header values this way, but you could certainly do it for the specific value you need. This solution is arguably inefficient, too, but it would do the job if you needed it.

Solution 3:

Using XmlHttpRequest you can pull up the current page and then examine the http headers of the response.

Best case is to just do a HEAD request and then examine the headers.

For some examples of doing this have a look at http://www.jibbering.com/2002/4/httprequest.html

Just my 2 cents.

Solution 4:

A solution with Service Workers

Service workers are able to access network information, which includes headers. The good part is that it works on any kind of request, not just XMLHttpRequest.

How it works:

  1. Add a service worker on your website.
  2. Watch every request that’s being sent.
  3. Make the service worker fetch the request with the respondWith function.
  4. When the response arrives, read the headers.
  5. Send the headers from the service worker to the page with the postMessage function.

Working example:

Service workers are a bit complicated to understand, so I’ve built a small library that does all this. It is available on github: https://github.com/gmetais/sw-get-headers.

Limitations:

  • the website needs to be on HTTPS
  • the browser needs to support the Service Workers API
  • the same-domain/cross-domain policies are in action, just like on XMLHttpRequest

Solution 5:

Another way to send header information to JavaScript would be through cookies. The server can extract whatever data it needs from the request headers and send them back inside a Set-Cookie response header — and cookies can be read in JavaScript. As keparo says, though, it’s best to do this for just one or two headers, rather than for all of them.

Solution 6:

For those looking for a way to parse all HTTP headers into an object that can be accessed as a dictionary headers["content-type"], I’ve created a function parseHttpHeaders:

function parseHttpHeaders(httpHeaders) {
    return httpHeaders.split("\n")
     .map(x=>x.split(/: */,2))
     .filter(x=>x[0])
     .reduce((ac, x)=>{ac[x[0]] = x[1];return ac;}, {});
}

var req = new XMLHttpRequest();
req.open('GET', document.location, false);
req.send(null);
var headers = parseHttpHeaders(req.getAllResponseHeaders());
// Now we can do:  headers["content-type"]