Overriding the Express API

The Express API consists of various methods and properties on the request and response objects. These are inherited by prototype. There are two extension points for the Express API:

  1. The global prototypes at express.request and express.response.
  2. App-specific prototypes at app.request and app.response.

Altering the global prototypes will affect all loaded Express apps in the same process. If desired, alterations can be made app-specific by only altering the app-specific prototypes after creating a new app.


You can override the signature and behavior of existing methods with your own, by assigning a custom function.

Following is an example of overriding the behavior of res.sendStatus.

app.response.sendStatus = function (statusCode, type, message) {
  // code is intentionally kept simple for demonstration purpose
  return this.contentType(type)

The above implementation completely changes the original signature of res.sendStatus. It now accepts a status code, encoding type, and the message to be sent to the client.

The overridden method may now be used this way:

res.sendStatus(404, 'application/json', '{"error":"resource not found"}')


Properties in the Express API are either:

  1. Assigned properties (ex: req.baseUrl, req.originalUrl)
  2. Defined as getters (ex: req.secure, req.ip)

Since properties under category 1 are dynamically assigned on the request and response objects in the context of the current request-response cycle, their behavior cannot be overridden.

Properties under category 2 can be overwritten using the Express API extensions API.

The following code rewrites how the value of req.ip is to be derived. Now, it simply returns the value of the Client-IP request header.

Object.defineProperty(app.request, 'ip', {
  configurable: true,
  enumerable: true,
  get () { return this.get('Client-IP') }


In order to provide the Express API, the request/response objects passed to Express (via app(req, res), for example) need to inherit from the same prototype chain. By default, this is http.IncomingRequest.prototype for the request and http.ServerResponse.prototype for the response.

Unless necessary, it is recommended that this be done only at the application level, rather than globally. Also, take care that the prototype that is being used matches the functionality as closely as possible to the default prototypes.

// Use FakeRequest and FakeResponse in place of http.IncomingRequest and http.ServerResponse
// for the given app reference
Object.setPrototypeOf(Object.getPrototypeOf(app.request), FakeRequest.prototype)
Object.setPrototypeOf(Object.getPrototypeOf(app.response), FakeResponse.prototype)