Fetch API: Options

2 minute read

TIL how to pass headers along with requests initiated by the fetch API.

What is Fetch

The fetch API provides a simple way to make network requests from clients. While it exists natively on the window object in all but our most favorite of modern browser (*cough* IE *cough*) there are polyfills to fill the behavior if it is missing. There is also a library called isomorphic-fetch that allows you to use the same fetch API in your server-side javascript applications.

The gist of fetch is that it accepts one mandatory argument, the path that it should initiate a request to, but it also accepts a companion object with different configuration options (like method and body).

A difference to note between fetch and jQuery.ajax(), is that fetch will not reject the promise if the response from the request results in 404 or 500. Instead it will resolve, with response.ok === false. Be wary before blindly parsing the JSON of all resolved requests: since 404 and 500 will not have any response body to parse, a runtime error will result if a parse is attempted.

Here is an example of what initiating a POST request to create a new user might look like using fetch:

fetch('/api/users', {
    method: 'POST',
    body: {
        name: 'brian',
        profession: 'blogger',
    },
}).then((res)=>{
    if (res.ok) {
        console.log('user successfully created!')
    }
}).catch((err) => {
    console.log('there was an error', err.message)
});

We use the fetch API at work, and find the syntax simple to use and reason about. We’ve even jumped on the isomorphic-fetch bandwagon, so we’re using fetch both client and server side!

Adding Headers

I needed to pass a few headers along with a request I was making. I thought I could just put my headers at the top level of the fetch companion object like so:

fetch('/api/users', {
    Authorization: 'nunya business'
})

This didn’t work as I was expecting though… I didn’t realize that there was actually a top level key for headers expected in the companion object! I also didn’t realize that there was an entire Headers class that was expected to be passed as the value of that headers key!

The headers class is simple enough to use: it offers some getters and setters, but also allows you to pass in an object that contains a mapping from header name to header value in the constructor of a new headers object. See example below for construction of the headers object, and passing it as a top-level key in the fetch companion object for the POST request from before:

const headers = new Headers({
    Authorization: "nunya business",
});

fetch('/api/users', {
    method: 'POST',
    headers: headers,
    body: {
        name: 'brian',
        profession: 'blogger',
    },
}).then((res)=>{
    if (res.ok) {
        console.log('user successfully created!')
    }
}).catch((err) => {
    console.log('there was an error', err.message)
});

Leave a Comment