View our GitHub

Please visit sails-docs on GitHub to view documentation on your mobile device.

Edit Page



The most basic feature of any web application is the ability to interpret a request sent to a URL, then send back a response. In order to do this, your application has to be able to distinguish one URL from another.

Like most web frameworks, Sails provides a router: a mechanism for mapping URLs to controllers and views. Routes are rules that tell Sails what to do when faced with an incoming request. There are two main types of routes in Sails: custom (or "explicit") and automatic (or "implicit").

Custom Routes

Sails lets you design your app's URLs in any way you like- there are no framework restrictions.

Every Sails project comes with config/routes.js, a simple Node.js module that exports an object of custom, or "explicit" routes. For example, this routes.js file defines six routes; some of them point to a controller's action, while others route directly to a view.

// config/routes.js
module.exports.routes = {
  'get /signup': { view: 'conversion/signup' },
  'post /signup': 'AuthController.processSignup',
  'get /login': { view: 'portal/login' },
  'post /login': 'AuthController.processLogin',
  '/logout': 'AuthController.logout',
  'get /me': 'UserController.profile'

Each route consists of an address (on the left, e.g. 'get /me') and a target (on the right, e.g. 'UserController.profile') The address is a URL path and (optionally) a specific HTTP method. The target can be defined a number of different ways (see the expanded concepts section on the subject), but the two different syntaxes above are the most common. When Sails receives an incoming request, it checks the address of all custom routes for matches. If a matching route is found, the request is then passed to its target.

For example, we might read 'get /me': 'UserController.profile' as:

"Hey Sails, when you receive a GET request to, run the profile action of UserController, would'ya?"

What if I want to change the view layout within the route itself? No problem we could:

'get /privacy': {
    view: 'users/privacy',
    locals: {
      layout: 'users'


  • Just because a request matches a route address doesn't necessarily mean it will be passed to that route's target directly. For instance, HTTP requests will usually pass through some middleware first. And if the route points to a controller action, the request will need to pass through any configured policies first. Finally, there are a few special route options which allow a route to be "skipped" for certain kinds of requests.
  • The router can also programmatically bind a route to any valid route target, including canonical Node middleware functions (i.e. function (req, res, next) {}). However, you should always use the conventional route target syntax when possible- it streamlines development, simplifies training, and makes your app more maintainable.

Automatic Routes

In addition to your custom routes, Sails binds many routes for you automatically. If a URL doesn't match a custom route, it may match one of the automatic routes and still generate a response. The main types of automatic routes in Sails are:

  • Blueprint routes, which provide your controllers and models with a full REST API.
  • Assets, such as images, Javascript and stylesheet files.
  • CSRF, if turned on, provides a /csrfToken route to your app that can be used to retrieve the CSRF token.

Supported Protocols

The Sails router is "protocol-agnostic"; it knows how to handle both HTTP requests and messages sent via WebSockets. It accomplishes this by listening for messages sent to reserved event handlers in a simple format, called JWR (JSON-WebSocket Request/Response). This specification is implemented and available out of the box in the client-side socket SDK.


  • Advanced users may opt to circumvent the router entirely and send low-level, completely customizable WebSocket messages directly to the underlying server. You can bind socket events directly in your app's onConnect function (located in config/sockets.js.) But bear in mind that, in most cases, you are better off leveraging the request interpreter for socket communication - maintaining consistent routes across HTTP and WebSockets helps keep your app maintainable.

Is something missing?

If you notice something we've missed or could be improved on, please follow this link and submit a pull request to the sails-docs repo. Once we merge it, the changes will be reflected on the website the next time it is deployed.