Error: Can't set headers after they are sent to the client


Question

I'm fairly new to Node.js and I am having some issues.

I am using Node.js 4.10 and Express 2.4.3.

When I try to access http://127.0.0.1:8888/auth/facebook, i'll be redirected to http://127.0.0.1:8888/auth/facebook_callback.

I then received the following error:

Error: Can't render headers after they are sent to the client.
    at ServerResponse.<anonymous> (http.js:573:11)
    at ServerResponse._renderHeaders (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/patch.js:64:25)
    at ServerResponse.writeHead (http.js:813:20)
    at /home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect-auth/lib/auth.strategies/facebook.js:28:15
    at /home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect-auth/lib/index.js:113:13
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect-auth/lib/strategyExecutor.js:45:39)
    at [object Object].pass (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect-auth/lib/authExecutionScope.js:32:3)
    at [object Object].halt (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect-auth/lib/authExecutionScope.js:29:8)
    at [object Object].redirect (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect-auth/lib/authExecutionScope.js:16:8)
    at [object Object].<anonymous> (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect-auth/lib/auth.strategies/facebook.js:77:15)
Error: Can't set headers after they are sent.
    at ServerResponse.<anonymous> (http.js:527:11)
    at ServerResponse.setHeader (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/patch.js:50:20)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:162:13)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:195:11)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:150:23)
    at param (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/router.js:189:13)
    at pass (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/router.js:191:10)
    at Object.router [as handle] (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/router.js:197:6)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:198:15)
    at Object.auth [as handle] (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect-auth/lib/index.js:153:7)
Error: Can't set headers after they are sent.
    at ServerResponse.<anonymous> (http.js:527:11)
    at ServerResponse.setHeader (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/patch.js:50:20)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:162:13)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:207:9)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:150:23)
    at param (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/router.js:189:13)
    at pass (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/router.js:191:10)
    at Object.router [as handle] (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/router.js:197:6)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:198:15)
    at Object.auth [as handle] (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect-auth/lib/index.js:153:7)
Error: Can't set headers after they are sent.
    at ServerResponse.<anonymous> (http.js:527:11)
    at ServerResponse.setHeader (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/patch.js:50:20)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:162:13)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:150:23)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:207:9)
    at Object.auth [as handle] (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect-auth/lib/index.js:153:7)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:198:15)
    at HTTPServer.handle (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:211:3)
    at Object.handle (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:105:14)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:198:15)
Error: Can't set headers after they are sent.
    at ServerResponse.<anonymous> (http.js:527:11)
    at ServerResponse.setHeader (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/patch.js:50:20)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:162:13)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:150:23)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:207:9)
    at HTTPServer.handle (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:211:3)
    at Object.handle (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:105:14)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:198:15)
    at /home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/session.js:323:9
    at /home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/session.js:338:9

node.js:134
        throw e; // process.nextTick error, or 'error' event on first tick
        ^
Error: Can't set headers after they are sent.
    at ServerResponse.<anonymous> (http.js:527:11)
    at ServerResponse.setHeader (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/patch.js:50:20)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:162:13)
    at next (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/http.js:207:9)
    at /home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/session.js:323:9
    at /home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/session.js:338:9
    at Array.<anonymous> (/home/eugene/public_html/all_things_node/projects/fb2/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/session/memory.js:57:7)
    at EventEmitter._tickCallback (node.js:126:26)

The following is my code:

var fbId= "XXX";
var fbSecret= "XXXXXX";
var fbCallbackAddress= "http://127.0.0.1:8888/auth/facebook_callback"

var cookieSecret = "node";     // enter a random hash for security

var express= require('express');
var auth = require('connect-auth')
var app = express.createServer();


app.configure(function(){
    app.use(express.bodyParser());
    app.use(express.methodOverride());
    app.use(express.cookieParser());
    app.use(express.session({secret: cookieSecret}));
    app.use(auth([
        auth.Facebook({
            appId : fbId,
            appSecret: fbSecret,
            callback: fbCallbackAddress,
            scope: 'offline_access,email,user_about_me,user_activities,manage_pages,publish_stream',
            failedUri: '/noauth'
        })
    ]));
    app.use(app.router);
});


app.get('/auth/facebook', function(req, res) {
  req.authenticate("facebook", function(error, authenticated) {
    if (authenticated) {
      res.redirect("/great");
      console.log("ok cool.");
      console.log(res['req']['session']);
    }
  });
});

app.get('/noauth', function(req, res) {
  console.log('Authentication Failed');
  res.send('Authentication Failed');
});

app.get('/great', function( req, res) {
  res.send('Supercoolstuff');
});

app.listen(8888);

May I know what is wrong with my code?

1
599
12/25/2017 3:07:10 PM

Accepted Answer

The res object in Express is a subclass of Node.js's http.ServerResponse (read the http.js source). You are allowed to call res.setHeader(name, value) as often as you want until you call res.writeHead(statusCode). After writeHead, the headers are baked in and you can only call res.write(data), and finally res.end(data).

The error "Error: Can't set headers after they are sent." means that you're already in the Body or Finished state, but some function tried to set a header or statusCode. When you see this error, try to look for anything that tries to send a header after some of the body has already been written. For example, look for callbacks that are accidentally called twice, or any error that happens after the body is sent.

In your case, you called res.redirect(), which caused the response to become Finished. Then your code threw an error (res.req is null). and since the error happened within your actual function(req, res, next) (not within a callback), Connect was able to catch it and then tried to send a 500 error page. But since the headers were already sent, Node.js's setHeader threw the error that you saw.

Comprehensive list of Node.js/Express response methods and when they must be called:

Response must be in Head and remains in Head:

  1. res.writeContinue()
  2. res.statusCode = 404
  3. res.setHeader(name, value)
  4. res.getHeader(name)
  5. res.removeHeader(name)
  6. res.header(key[, val]) (Express only)
  7. res.charset = 'utf-8' (Express only; only affects Express-specific methods)
  8. res.contentType(type) (Express only)

Response must be in Head and becomes Body:

  1. res.writeHead(statusCode, [reasonPhrase], [headers])

Response can be in either Head/Body and remains in Body:

  1. res.write(chunk, encoding='utf8')

Response can be in either Head/Body and becomes Finished:

  1. res.end([data], [encoding])

Response can be in either Head/Body and remains in its current state:

  1. res.addTrailers(headers)

Response must be in Head and becomes Finished:

  1. return next([err]) (Connect/Express only)
  2. Any exceptions within middleware function(req, res, next) (Connect/Express only)
  3. res.send(body|status[, headers|status[, status]]) (Express only)
  4. res.attachment(filename) (Express only)
  5. res.sendfile(path[, options[, callback]]) (Express only)
  6. res.json(obj[, headers|status[, status]]) (Express only)
  7. res.redirect(url[, status]) (Express only)
  8. res.cookie(name, val[, options]) (Express only)
  9. res.clearCookie(name[, options]) (Express only)
  10. res.render(view[, options[, fn]]) (Express only)
  11. res.partial(view[, options]) (Express only)
942
8/21/2018 5:11:22 PM

I ran into this error as well for a while. I think (hope) I've wrapped my head around it, wanted to write it here for reference.

When you add middleware to connect or express (which is built on connect) using the app.use method, you're appending items to Server.prototype.stack in connect (At least with the current npm install connect, which looks quite different from the one github as of this post). When the server gets a request, it iterates over the stack, calling the (request, response, next) method.

The problem is, if in one of the middleware items writes to the response body or headers (it looks like it's either/or for some reason), but doesn't call response.end() and you call next() then as the core Server.prototype.handle method completes, it's going to notice that:

  1. there are no more items in the stack, and/or
  2. that response.headerSent is true.

So, it throws an error. But the error it throws is just this basic response (from the connect http.js source code:

res.statusCode = 404;
res.setHeader('Content-Type', 'text/plain');
res.end('Cannot ' + req.method + ' ' + req.url);

Right there, it's calling res.setHeader('Content-Type', 'text/plain');, which you are likely to have set in your render method, without calling response.end(), something like:

response.setHeader("Content-Type", "text/html");
response.write("<p>Hello World</p>");

The way everything needs to be structured is like this:

Good Middleware

// middleware that does not modify the response body
var doesNotModifyBody = function(request, response, next) {
  request.params = {
    a: "b"
  };
  // calls next because it hasn't modified the header
  next();
};

// middleware that modify the response body
var doesModifyBody = function(request, response, next) {
  response.setHeader("Content-Type", "text/html");
  response.write("<p>Hello World</p>");
  response.end();
  // doesn't call next()
};

app.use(doesNotModifyBody);
app.use(doesModifyBody);

Problematic Middleware

var problemMiddleware = function(request, response, next) {
  response.setHeader("Content-Type", "text/html");
  response.write("<p>Hello World</p>");
  next();
};

The problematic middleware sets the response header without calling response.end() and calls next(), which confuses connect's server.


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