Today I Learned

A Hashrocket project

How Rails Responds to `*/*`

Yesterday I fixed a bug in TIL. This application has a Twittercard, but it’s never worked. Twitter’s card validator confusingly claims the site lacks Twitter meta tags.

After experimenting, I realized that when cURL-ing our site, the response type is application/json. Why is Rails giving me JSON?

When an HTTP request’s accept headers equal */*, any MIME type is accepted. And, when a respond_to block is present:

Rails determines the desired response format from the HTTP Accept header submitted by the client.

Determined how? I learned that the first MIME type declared is used for */* requests.

Notice the difference (HTML first):

# app/controllers/posts_controller.rb
 def index
    @posts = Post.all
    respond_to do |format|
      format.html
      format.json { render json: @posts }
    end
  end

Request/response:

$ curl -vI localhost:3000/
...
> Accept: */*
>
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
...

JSON first:

# app/controllers/posts_controller.rb
 def index
    @posts = Post.all
    respond_to do |format|
      format.json { render json: @posts }
      format.html
    end
  end

Request/response:

$ curl -vI localhost:3000/
...
> Accept: */*
>
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
...

Reversing the order (HTML first) solved the issue.

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