Replacing headers in Yesod

July 30, 2017

Recently a issue was raised in the bug tracker regarding the way to overwrite a HTTP response header in Yesod. Maximilian Tagher brought a valid point that multiple header values are indeed acceptable according to the HTTP RFC specification. Further down the conversation, it was suggested to use WAI middleware for controlling the response. But again, this was a workaround and not a clean solution IMO.

Is this a sane thing to do ?

My first question was whether replacing header value was a sane thing to do in the framework level ? I went on to see if other framework are providing this. Both Django framework and Express.js allowed modifying them. Given that the ecosystem in Python and Node.js allowed that, it meant that we are missing that in our Yesod.

Yeah, go for it!

So armed with the knowledge that it wouldn’t be a wrong thing to do, I decided to add the relevant functionaity to Yesod. My initial patch didn’t take into the account that the header names are case insensitive according to the specification. After some iteration and refinement, this was the final working code:

replaceOrAddHeader :: MonadHandler m => Text -> Text -> m ()
replaceOrAddHeader a b =
  modify $ \g -> g {ghsHeaders = replaceHeader (ghsHeaders g)}
    repHeader = Header (encodeUtf8 a) (encodeUtf8 b)

    sameHeaderName :: Header -> Header -> Bool
    sameHeaderName (Header n1 _) (Header n2 _) = T.toLower (decodeUtf8 n1) == T.toLower (decodeUtf8 n2)
    sameHeaderName _ _ = False

    replaceIndividualHeader :: [Header] -> [Header]
    replaceIndividualHeader [] = [repHeader]
    replaceIndividualHeader xs = aux xs []
        aux [] acc = acc ++ [repHeader]
        aux (x:xs') acc =
          if sameHeaderName repHeader x
            then acc ++
                 [repHeader] ++
                 (filter (\header -> not (sameHeaderName header repHeader)) xs')
            else aux xs' (acc ++ [x])

    replaceHeader :: Endo [Header] -> Endo [Header]
    replaceHeader endo =
      let allHeaders :: [Header] = appEndo endo []
      in Endo (\rest -> replaceIndividualHeader allHeaders ++ rest)

I merged the PR two days ago. This function will be available under the module Yesod.Core.Handler from yesod-core-1.4.36. Thanks to Paul Rose and Michael Snoyman for the detailed review. One design issue I observed while creating the patch was the the Header filed was represented by a ByteString. I have opened a new issue to move it to a CI type constructor for case insensitive equality checking. I will try to make that change in the next major release of Yesod as it breaks backward compatibility. That will help in cleaning up the above code slightly.