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Parse POST/PATCH/PUT request JSON body with Express and no dependencies

Hugo Di Francesco
Developer, JavaScript, CSS and web. Writing at Code with Hugo.
Originally published at on ・3 min read

When asked to handle data in a request body, developers who have used Express (the “Fast, unopinionated, minimalist web framework for Node.js”) before, reach for the body-parser library.

The same functionality can be achieved using express.json(). A middleware for parsing JSON request bodies built-into Express.

Note: express.json exists only in Express 4.16+

Here is an example app that reflects the request POST body in the response:

const express = require('express')
const app = express()

  (req, res) => res.json(req.body)

const PORT = process.env.PORT || 3000
app.listen(PORT, () => {
  console.log(`Server listening on port ${PORT}`)

You can see it running at, test it using:

curl --request POST \
  --url \
  --header 'content-type: application/json' \
  --data '{
    "json-parsing": "just with Express",
    "no": "body-parser"

It will output:

{"json-parsing":"just with Express","no":"body-parser"}

Which is exactly what we sent in the --data property of the curl request.

You can pass options into it like so (all the values are the default values for these options):

  inflate: true,
  limit: '100kb',
  reviver: null,
  strict: true,
  type: 'application/json',
  verify: undefined

The full API docs for express.json are at

A run-through of the options follows.

inflate controls whether or not to handle compressed/deflated request bodies. When it’s set to false, compressed/deflated bodies will get rejected.

limit controls the maximum body size. It can be either a number of bytes or a string which is compatible with the bytes library.

strict is about locking JSON.parse down to just objects and arrays. If true, only JSON.stringify-ed objects and arrays will be allowed, if false, anything that JSON.parse accepts will be parsed.

type controls which content-type the middleware will attempt to parse. The value for this option can be a string, an array of strings, or a function. Content-type wildcards are supported to some extent since string(s) are passed to the type-is library.

verify is an optional function with verify(req, res, buf, encoding) signature. buf is a Buffer containing the raw request body. verify can be used to abort parsing by throwing an error.

Despite not being necessary for parsing JSON bodies, body-parser remains a great library that provides parsers for other body types (see the docs at

The exception is multipart bodies, there are alternative libraries to handle that use-case (usually for file upload).

Mahir Uysal

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