A reply is a method returned from a middleware that creates the response. These are the available methods and their parameters for server.reply:

reply name example final
cookie(name, value, opts) cookie('name', 'Francisco') false
download(path[, filename]) download('resume.pdf') true
file(path) file('resume.pdf') true
header(field[, value]) header('ETag': '12345') false
json([data]) json({ hello: 'world' }) true
jsonp([data]) jsonp({ hello: 'world' }) true
redirect([status,] path) redirect(302, '/') true
render(view[, locals]) render('index.hbs') true
send([body]) send('Hello there') true
status(code) status(200) mixed
type(type) type('html') false


const { get, post } = require('server/router');
const { render, redirect, file } = require('server/reply');

module.exports = [
  get('/', ctx => render('index.hbs')),
  post('/', processRequest, ctx => redirect('/'))
Make sure to return the reply that you want to use. It won't work otherwise.

The ctx argument is explained in middleware's Context. The reply methods can be imported in several ways:

// For whenever you have previously defined `server`
const { send, json } = server.reply;

// For standalone files:
const { send, json } = require('server/reply');

There are many more ways of importing the reply methods, but those above are the recommended ones.


While most of the replies are final and they should be invoked only once, there are a handful of others that can be chained. These add something to the ongoing response:

You can chain those among themselves and any of those with a final method that sends. If no final method is called in any place the request will be finished with a 404 response.

The status() reply can be used as final or as chainable if something else is added.

Return value

Both in synchronous mode or asyncrhonous mode you can just return a string to create a response:

// Send a string
const middle = ctx => 'Hello 世界';

// Test it
const res = await run(middle).get('/');
expect(res.body).toBe('Hello 世界');

Returning an array or an object will stringify them as JSON:

server(ctx => ['life', 42]);
// Note: extra parenthesis needed by the arrow function to return an object
server(ctx => ({ life: 42 }));

A single number will be interpreted as a status code and the corresponding body for that status will be returned:

server(get('/nonexisting', => 404));

You can also throw anything to trigger an error:

const middle = ({ req }) => {
  if (!req.body) {
    throw new Error('No body provided');

const handler = error(ctx => ctx.error.message);

// Test it
const res = await run(middle, handler).get('/nonexisting');
expect(res.body).toBe('No body provided');

Multiple replies

Another important thing is that the first reply used is the one that will be used. However, you should try to avoid this and we might make it more strict in the future:

// I hope you speak Spanish
  ctx => 'Hola mundo',
  ctx => 'Hello world',
  ctx => 'こんにちは、世界'

To avoid this, just specify the url for each request in a router:

// I hope you speak Spanish
  get('/es', ctx => 'Hola mundo'),
  get('/en', ctx => 'Hello world'),
  get('/jp', ctx => 'こんにちは、世界')

Then each of those URLs will use a different language.

Send one or multiple cookies to the browser:

cookie(name, value, [options])

By default it will just set a cookie and not finish the request, so if you want to also send the body you need to do it explicitly:

  ctx => cookie('foo', 'bar'),  // Set a cookie
  ctx => cookie('xyz', { obj: 'okay' }), // Stringify the object
  ctx => cookie('abc', 'def', { maxAge: 100000 }),  // Pass some options
  ctx => cookie('fizz', 'buzz').send(), // Set cookie AND finish the request
const { cookie } = server.reply;
const setCookie = ctx => cookie('foo', 'bar').send();

// Test
run(setCookie).get('/').then(res => {

The options is an optional object with these keys/values:

Key Default Type
domain Current domain String
encode encodeURIComponent Function
expires undefined (session) Date
httpOnly false Boolean
maxAge undefined (session) Number
path "/" String
secure false Boolean
signed false Boolean
sameSite false Boolean or String

See a better explanation of each one of those in express' documentation.


An async function that takes a local path and an optional filename. It will return the local file with the filename name for the browser to download.

server(ctx => download('user-file-5674354.pdf'));
server(ctx => download('user-file-5674354.pdf', 'report.pdf'));

You can handle errors for this method downstream:

  ctx => download('user-file-5674354.pdf'),
  error(ctx => { console.log(ctx.error); })


Send a file to the browser with the correct mime type:

server(ctx => file('user-profile-5674354.png'));

It does not accept a name since the user is not prompted for download. It will stream the file, so that no files are read fully into memory.

You can handle errors for this method downstream:

  ctx => file('user-profile-5674354.png'),
  error(ctx => { console.log(ctx.error); })


Set a header to be sent with the response. It accepts two strings as key and value or an object to set multiple headers:

const mid = ctx => header('Content-Type', 'text/plain');
const mid2 = ctx => header('Content-Length', '123');

// Same as above
const mid = ctx => header({
  'Content-Type': 'text/plain',
  'Content-Length': '123'

You can also send multiple headers with the same name by passing an array as the second parameter:

const mid = ctx => header({
  'Link': ['Fake Value', 'Another Fake Value']

This can be chained with other methods to e.g. prompt for a download:

const mid = async ctx => {
  const data = await readFileAsync('./hello.pdf', 'utf-8');
  return header({ 'Content-Disposition': `filename='welcome.pdf'` })
    .send(new Buffer(data));


Sends a JSON response. It accepts a plain object or an array that will be stringified with JSON.stringify. Sets the correct Content-Type headers as well:

const mid = ctx => json({ foo: 'bar' });

// Test it
run(mid).get('/').then(res => {


Same as json() but wrapped with a callback. Read more about JSONP:

const mid = ctx => jsonp({ foo: 'bar' });

// Test it
run(mid).get('/?callback=callback').then(res => {

It is useful for loading data Cross-Domain. The query ?callback=foo is mandatory and you should set the callback name there:

const mid = ctx => jsonp({ foo: 'bar' });

// Test it
run(mid).get('/?callback=foo').then(res => {


Redirects to the url specified. It can be either internal (just a path) or an external URL:

const mid1 = ctx => redirect('/foo');
const mid2 = ctx => redirect('../user');
const mid3 = ctx => redirect('');
const mid4 = ctx => redirect(301, '');


This is the most complex method and yet the most useful one. It takes a filename and some data and renders it:

const mid1 = ctx => render('index.hbs');
const mid2 = ctx => render('index.hbs', { user: 'Francisco' });

The filename is relative to the views option (defaults to 'views'):

// Renders PROJECT/somefolder/index.hbs
server({ views: 'somefolder' }, ctx => render('index.hbs'));

The extension of this filename is optional. It accepts by default .hbs, .pug and .html and can accept more types installing other engines:

const mid1 = ctx => render('index.pug');
const mid2 = ctx => render('index.hbs');
const mid3 = ctx => render('index.html');

The data will be passed to the template engine. Note that some plugins might pass additional data as well.


Send the data to the front-end. It is the method used by default with the raw returns:

const mid1 = ctx => send('Hello 世界');
const mid2 = ctx => 'Hello 世界';

However it supports many more data types: String, object, Array or Buffer:

const mid1 = ctx => send('Hello 世界');
const mid2 = ctx => send('<p>Hello 世界</p>');
const mid4 = ctx => send({ foo: 'bar' });
const mid3 = ctx => send(new Buffer('whatever'));

It also has the advantage that it can be chained, unlike just returning the string:

const mid1 = ctx => status(201).send({ resource: 'foobar' });
const mid2 = ctx => status(404).send('Not found');
const mid3 = ctx => status(500).send({ error: 'our fault' });


Sets the status of the response. If no reply is done, it will become final and send that response message as the body:

const mid1 = ctx => status(404);  // The same as:
const mid2 = ctx => status(404).send('Not found');


Set the Content-Type header for the response. It can be a explicit MIME type like these:

const mid1 = ctx => type('text/html').send('<p>Hello</p>');
const mid2 = ctx => type('application/json').send(JSON.stringify({ foo: 'bar' }));
const mid3 = ctx => type('image/png').send(...);

Or you can also write their more friendly names for an equivalent result:

const mid1 = ctx => type('.html');
const mid2 = ctx => type('html');
const mid3 = ctx => type('json');
const mid4 = ctx => type('application/json');
const mid5 = ctx => type('png');

Keep reading

List of all the topics: