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A flag indicating whether the requesting client would prefer a JSON response (as opposed to some other format, like XML or HTML.)

req.wantsJSON is used by all of the built-in custom responses in Sails.




The intended purpose of req.wantsJSON is to provide a clean, reusable indication of whether the server should respond with JSON, or send back something else (like an HTML page or a 302 redirect.) It is not the right answer for every content negotiation problem, but it is a simple, go-to solution for most use cases.

For instance, for requests typed into the URL bar, all major browsers set an "Accept: text/plain;" request header. In that case, req.wantsJSON is false. But for many other cases, the distinction is not quite as clear. In those scenarios, Sails uses heuristics to determine the best value for req.wantsJSON.

Technically, req.wantsJSON inspects the request's "Content-type", "Accepts", and "X-Requested-With" headers to make an inference as to whether the request is expecting a JSON response. If the request did not provide enough information to know for sure, Sails errs on the side of JSON (i.e. req.wantsJSON will be set to true.)

This all makes your app more future-proof and less brittle: as best-practices for content negotiation change over time (e.g. a new type of consumer device or enterprise user-agent introduces a new header) Sails can patch req.wantsJSON at the framework level and modify the heuristics accordingly. Not to mention that it reduces code duplication and saves you the annoyance of manually inspecting headers in each of your routes.


if (req.wantsJSON) {
  return res.json(data);
else {
  return res.view(data);


Here is the specific order in which req.wantsJSON inspects the request. If any of the following match, subsequent checks are ignored.

A request "wantsJSON" if:

  • if this looks like an AJAX request
  • if this is a virtual request from a socket
  • if this request DOESN'T explicitly want HTML
  • if this request has a "json" content-type AND ALSO has its "Accept" header set
  • if req.options.wantsJSON is truthy


  • Lower-level content negotiation is, of course, still possible using, req.accepts(), req.xhr, and req.get().
  • As of Sails v0.10, requests originating from a WebSocket client always "want JSON".

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