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How to Enable CORS on an API for Developers

No 'Access-Control-Allow-Origin' header is present on the requested resource, according to an annoying error message you might have encountered if you've ever tried to use JavaScript to obtain data from a web REST API. The same-origin policy, a security mechanism that forbids web pages from accessing data from domains other than their own, is the root cause of this problem.

A method known as Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS), which enables web applications to access resources from a different domain, can be used by web developers to get around this restriction. But, if you've never worked with APIs or are new to web development, integrating CORS can be challenging.

We'll walk you through the process of enabling CORS on an API in this blog post. We'll begin by defining CORS, describing how it functions, and highlighting its significance for web developers. Finally, we'll get into the specifics of turning on CORS for your API, including the many ways to do so and how to test your implementation. We'll also offer best practises and pointers for setting up CORS so that your API is both secure and accessible.

This article will assist you in navigating the difficulties of CORS and enabling your API to be utilised by a wider range of applications, whether you are an experienced web developer or just getting started. Then let's get going!

Understanding CORS

Understanding CORS

It's crucial to comprehend what CORS is and how it functions before we go into how to enable CORS on an API. We'll give an overview of CORS and its function in web development in this section. We'll go over the rationale behind CORS' introduction, the fundamental ideas that guide its operation, and why it's crucial for developers to use it. You'll have a firm understanding of how CORS enables web apps to securely access data from several domains by the end of this session.

How does CORS work?

The way CORS works is by letting servers specify which origins are permitted access to their resources. The browser makes a "preflight" request to the server whenever a web application tries to access a resource from a different origin to find out if the resource is accessible and which methods and headers are permitted. Following that, the server replies with a collection of headers stating if the request is authorised, whether methods and headers are supported, and any further pertinent data.

If the request is granted by the server, the browser will continue with it, including any extra headers or methods that were permitted. The browser will stop the request and send an error message to the user if the server rejects it. Web developers can use this technique to manage which origins are permitted access to their resources, preventing unwanted access while yet allowing for valid use cases.

We'll go over the procedures for enabling CORS on your API in the following section, covering various approaches and recommended practises for making sure your implementation is safe and efficient.

Should I enable CORS on my API?

It's crucial to think about whether to allow CORS when creating an API that other web applications will use. Increasing accessibility and improving user experience are two advantages of enabling CORS, but if done improperly, it can potentially pose security problems.

In the end, your individual use case and the requirements of your users should determine whether to enable CORS on your API. You'll probably need to enable CORS if you wish to allow third-party applications to access your API from various domains. On the other side, you might not need to activate CORS if your API is only accessed by a few trusted applications or your own web application.

Whatever choice you make, it's critical to comprehend the consequences of enabling CORS and to execute it securely by adhering to best practises. We'll give advice on how to implement CORS on your API in the following part, along with detailed instructions and examples of code snippets in several programming languages.

How do I enable CORS on my API? [Practical examples]

How do I enable CORS on my API

By adding particular HTTP headers, you can enable CORS on your API and give web browsers access to your API's resources. The following steps will help you enable CORS on your API:

  1. Choose which specific domains you want to be able to use your API. To accept all domains, you can use a wildcard, however this is not advised for security reasons.
  2. Choose a CORS enablement technique for your API. There are other approaches, such as setting headers directly in your server-side code, utilising middleware, or utilising a third-party service.
  3. To enable CORS, include the proper headers in your API responses. The "Access-Control-Allow-Origin" header, which identifies the domain(s) that are permitted to access your API, is the most significant header. Depending on the demands of your API, you might also need to provide other headers, such as "Access-Control-Allow-Headers" or "Access-Control-Allow-Methods".

Here are some exemplified lines of code from several programming languages that enable CORS:


app.use(function(req, res, next) {
    res.header("Access-Control-Allow-Origin", "");
    res.header("Access-Control-Allow-Headers", "Origin, X-Requested-With, Content-Type, Accept");

Ruby on Rails:

class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base
  before_action :allow_cross_origin_requests

  def allow_cross_origin_requests
    headers['Access-Control-Allow-Origin'] = '*'
    headers['Access-Control-Allow-Methods'] = 'POST, PUT, DELETE, GET, OPTIONS'
    headers['Access-Control-Request-Method'] = '*'
    headers['Access-Control-Allow-Headers'] = 'Origin, X-Requested-With, Content-Type, Accept, Authorization'


header("Access-Control-Allow-Headers: Origin, X-Requested-With, Content-Type, Accept");

Don't forget to test your implementation to make sure everything is functioning as it should. You'll be able to improve user experience and expand API accessibility once you've successfully enabled CORS on your API.

How do you check if CORS is enabled?

How do you check if CORS is enabled

It's crucial to make sure CORS is operating as expected after enabling it on your API. The following techniques can be used to determine whether CORS is enabled on your API:

  • Use the console of your browser. Make a request to your API by opening the developer tools in your web browser, going to the network tab, and clicking on it. In the answer, look for the "Access-Control-Allow-Origin" header. CORS is activated if it's present and matches the domain(s) you selected.
  • Use an external tool. CURL and Postman are just a couple of the tools you can use to test CORS on your API. These tools can assist you in making sure that the proper headers are being set and that your API is responding to preflight queries correctly.
  • Run a test using a different domain. If your "Access-Control-Allow-Origin" header specifies a certain domain, try requesting your API from a different domain. If the request is successful and you get the desired result, CORS has probably been correctly enabled.

To guarantee that your API is protected and usable by users, don't forget to properly test your implementation and make any necessary improvements. We'll cover some best practises for integrating CORS with your API in the following section, along with advice on how to deal with failures and security issues.



Making your data more accessible to a wider range of web applications requires you to enable CORS on your API. You can make sure that your API is available to and safe for your users by doing the actions described in this post.

Keep in mind that adopting CORS appropriately necessitates giving considerable thought to security issues and best practises. Test your implementation properly, and handle faults and security issues according to our recommendations.

CORS is an effective technique that enables cross-domain communication between web apps in general. You may maximise the utilisation of your API and give your users a better user experience if you comprehend how CORS operates and adhere to best practises for implementation.

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