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Correct `Content-Type` header

Correct Content-Type header (content-type)

content-type warns against not serving resources with the Content-Type HTTP response header with a value containing the appropriate media type and charset for the response.

Why is this important?

Even though browsers sometimes ignore the value of the Content-Type header and try to sniff the content, it’s indicated to always send the appropriate media type and charset for the response as, among other:

What does the hint check?

The hint checks if responses include the Content-Type HTTP response header and its value contains the appropriate media type and charset for the response.

A note about application/javascript

This hint recommends using a Content-Type of text/javascript for JavaScript resources as noted in the HTML standard. However this hint also allows application/javascript because that value was previously recommended by the IETF in RFC 4329. RFC 4329 has an active draft proposed to also recommend text/javascript in the future.

See the section Can the hint be configured below for an example of how to require a specific Content-Type value for JavaScript resources if desired.

Examples that trigger the hint

Content-Type response header is not sent:

HTTP/... 200 OK

...

Content-Type response header is sent with an invalid value:

HTTP/... 200 OK

...
Content-Type: invalid
HTTP/... 200 OK

...
Content-Type: text/html;;;

Content-Type response header is sent with the wrong media type:

For /example.png

HTTP/... 200 OK

...
Content-Type: font/woff2

Content-Type response header is sent with an unofficial media type:

For /example.js

HTTP/... 200 OK

...
Content-Type: application/x-javascript; charset=utf-8

Content-Type response header is sent without the charset parameter for response that should have it:

For /example.html

HTTP/... 200 OK

...
Content-Type: text/html

Examples that pass the hint

For /example.png

HTTP/... 200 OK

...
Content-Type: image/png

For /example.js

HTTP/... 200 OK

...
Content-Type: text/javascript; charset=utf-8

How to configure the server to pass this hint

How to configure Apache

By default Apache maps certain filename extensions to specific media types, but depending on the Apache version that is used, some mappings may be outdated or missing.

Fortunately, Apache provides a way to overwrite and add to the existing media types mappings using the AddType directive. For example, to configure Apache to serve .webmanifest files with the application/manifest+json media type, the following can be used:

<IfModule mod_mime.c>
    AddType application/manifest+json   webmanifest
</IfModule>

The same goes for mapping certain filename extensions to specific charsets, which can be done using the AddDefaultCharset and AddCharset directives.

If you don’t want to start from scratch, below is a generic starter snippet that contains the necessary mappings to ensure that commonly used file types are served with the appropriate Content-Type response header, and thus, make your web site/app pass this hint.

# Serve resources with the proper media types (f.k.a. MIME types).
# https://www.iana.org/assignments/media-types/media-types.xhtml

<IfModule mod_mime.c>

  # Data interchange

    # 2.2.x+

    AddType text/xml                                    xml

    # 2.2.x - 2.4.x

    AddType application/json                            json
    AddType application/rss+xml                         rss

    # 2.4.x+

    AddType application/json                            map

  # JavaScript

    # 2.2.x+

    # See: https://html.spec.whatwg.org/multipage/scripting.html#scriptingLanguages.
    AddType text/javascript                             js mjs


  # Manifest files

    # 2.2.x+

    AddType application/manifest+json                   webmanifest
    AddType text/cache-manifest                         appcache


  # Media files

    # 2.2.x - 2.4.x

    AddType audio/mp4                                   f4a f4b m4a
    AddType audio/ogg                                   oga ogg spx
    AddType video/mp4                                   mp4 mp4v mpg4
    AddType video/ogg                                   ogv
    AddType video/webm                                  webm
    AddType video/x-flv                                 flv

    # 2.2.x+

    AddType image/svg+xml                               svgz
    AddType image/x-icon                                cur

    # 2.4.x+

    AddType image/webp                                  webp


  # Web fonts

    # 2.2.x - 2.4.x

    AddType application/vnd.ms-fontobject               eot

    # 2.2.x+

    AddType font/woff                                   woff
    AddType font/woff2                                  woff2
    AddType font/ttf                                    ttf
    AddType font/collection                             ttc
    AddType font/otf                                    otf


  # Other

    # 2.2.x+

    AddType text/vtt                                    vtt

</IfModule>

# - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

# Serve all resources labeled as `text/html` or `text/plain`
# with the media type `charset` parameter set to `utf-8`.
#
# https://httpd.apache.org/docs/current/mod/core.html#adddefaultcharset

AddDefaultCharset utf-8

# - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

# Serve the following file types with the media type `charset`
# parameter set to `utf-8`.
#
# https://httpd.apache.org/docs/current/mod/mod_mime.html#addcharset

<IfModule mod_mime.c>
    AddCharset utf-8 .appcache \
                     .atom \
                     .css \
                     .js \
                     .json \
                     .manifest \
                     .map \
                     .mjs \
                     .rdf \
                     .rss \
                     .vtt \
                     .webmanifest \
                     .xml
</IfModule>

Note that:

  • The above snippet works with Apache v2.2.0+, but you need to have mod_mime enabled in order for it to take effect.

  • If you have access to the main Apache configuration file (usually called httpd.conf), you should add the logic in, for example, a <Directory> section in that file. This is usually the recommended way as using .htaccess files slows down Apache!

    If you don’t have access to the main configuration file (quite common with hosting services), add the snippets in a .htaccess file in the root of the web site/app.

For the complete set of configurations, not just for this rule, see the Apache server configuration related documentation.

How to configure IIS

By default IIS maps certain filename extensions to specific media types, but depending on the IIS version that is used, some mappings may be outdated or missing.

Fortunately, IIS provides a way to overwrite and add to the existing media types mappings using the <mimeMap> element under . For example, to configure IIS to serve .webmanifest files with the application/manifest+json media type, the following can be used:

<staticContent>
    <mimeMap fileExtension="webmanifest" mimeType="application/manifest+json"/>
</staticContent>

The same element can be used to specify the charset. Continuing with the example above, if we want to use utf-8 it should be as follows:

<staticContent>
    <mimeMap fileExtension="webmanifest" mimeType="application/manifest+json; charset=utf-8"/>
</staticContent>

If you don’t want to start from scratch, below is a generic starter snippet that contains the necessary mappings to ensure that commonly used file types are served with the appropriate Content-Type response header, and thus, make your web site/app pass this hint.

Note: the remove element is used to make sure we don’t use IIS defaults for the given extension.

<configuration>
    <system.webServer>
        <staticContent>
            <!-- IIS doesn't set the charset automatically, so we have to override some
                 of the predefined ones -->

            <!-- Data interchange -->
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".json" mimeType="application/json; charset=utf-8"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".map" mimeType="application/json; charset=utf-8"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".rss" mimeType="application/rss+xml; charset=utf-8"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".xml" mimeType="text/xml; charset=utf-8"/>

            <!-- JavaScript -->
            <!-- https://html.spec.whatwg.org/multipage/scripting.html#scriptingLanguages -->
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".js" mimeType="text/javascript; charset=utf-8"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".mjs" mimeType="text/javascript; charset=utf-8"/>

            <!-- Manifest files -->
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".appcache" mimeType="text/cache-manifest; charset=utf-8"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".webmanifest" mimeType="application/manifest+json; charset=utf-8"/>

            <!-- Media files -->
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".f4a" mimeType="audio/mp4"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".f4b" mimeType="audio/mp4"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".m4a" mimeType="audio/mp4"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".oga" mimeType="audio/ogg"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".ogg" mimeType="audio/ogg"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".spx" mimeType="audio/ogg"/>

            <mimeMap fileExtension=".mp4" mimeType="video/mp4"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".mp4v" mimeType="video/mp4"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".mpg4" mimeType="video/mp4"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".ogv" mimeType="video/ogg"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".webm" mimeType="video/webm"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".flv" mimeType="video/x-flv"/>

            <mimeMap fileExtension=".cur" mimeType="image/x-icon"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".ico" mimeType="image/x-icon"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".svg" mimeType="image/svg+xml; charset=utf-8"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".svgz" mimeType="image/svg+xml"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".webp" mimeType="image/webp"/>


            <!-- Font files -->
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".eot" mimeType="application/vnd.ms-fontobject"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".otf" mimeType="font/otf"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".ttc" mimeType="font/collection"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".ttf" mimeType="font/ttf"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".woff" mimeType="font/woff"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".woff2" mimeType="font/woff2"/>

            <!-- Others -->
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".css" mimeType="text/css; charset=utf-8"/>
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".html" mimeType="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".txt" mimeType="text/plain; charset=utf-8" />
            <mimeMap fileExtension=".vtt" mimeType="text/vtt; charset=utf-8"/>
        </staticContent>

        <!-- This is needed only if you are serving .svgz images -->
        <outboundRules>
            <rule name="svgz-content-enconding" enabled="true">
                <match serverVariable="RESPONSE_Content_Encoding" pattern=".*" />
                <conditions>
                    <add input="{REQUEST_Filename}" pattern="\.svgz$" />
                </conditions>
                <action type="Rewrite" value="gzip" />
            </rule>
        </outboundRules>
    </system.webServer>
</configuration>

Note that:

  • The above snippet works with IIS 7+.
  • You should use the above snippet in the web.config of your application.

For the complete set of configurations, not just for this rule, see the IIS server configuration related documentation.

Can the hint be configured?

You can overwrite the defaults by specifying custom values for the Content-Type header and the regular expressions that match the URLs for which those values should be required.

<regex>: <content_type_value>

E.g. The following hint configuration will make webhint require that all resources requested from a URL that matches the regular expression .*\.js be served with a Content-Type header with the value of application/javascript; charset=utf-8.

In the .hintrc file:

{
    "connector": {...},
    "formatters": [...],
    "hints": {
        "content-type": ["error", {
            ".*\\.js": "application/javascript; charset=utf-8"
        }],
        ...
    },
    ...
}

Note: You can also use the ignoredUrls property from the .hintrc file to exclude domains you don’t control (e.g.: CDNs) from these checks.

How to use this hint?

This package is installed automatically by webhint:

npm install hint --save-dev

To use it, activate it via the .hintrc configuration file:

{
    "connector": {...},
    "formatters": [...],
    "hints": {
        "content-type": "error",
        ...
    },
    "parsers": [...],
    ...
}

Note: The recommended way of running webhint is as a devDependency of your project.

Further Reading