Setting up CORS with Python

Published 2019-03-02

What is CORS?

CORS (Cross Origin Resource Sharing) allows access to resources from other domains, a good use case for this is a web app trying to fetch data from an API on another domain. CORS is only required when trying to fetch data from a browser, as browsers by default will block requests to different origins (domains).

CORS uses HTTP headers to tell the browser if it has permission to fetch the resources.

Browsers use a preflight header to determine if it has permission to interact with the domain. This preflight header takes the form of a OPTIONS request, usually

sending the following HTTP headers to the server:

  • Access-Control-Request-Method: The method of the request, e.g. GET if trying to get data
  • Access-Control-Request-Headers: The headers that will be sent to the server

The response will usually contain the following headers:

  • Access-Control-Allow-Origin: The origins that are allowed to access the resource (specify '*' for all)
  • Access-Control-Allow-Methods: The methods that are allowed on the resource, e.g. "GET,POST,OPTIONS", remember to include OPTIONS in it, as its required for the preflight header
  • Access-Control-Allow-Headers: The additional headers that are allowed on the resource

Implementing a simple Python server that has CORS

Python has a simple HTTP server built-in, that can be extended easily.

It can be imported like so:

from BaseHTTPServer import BaseHTTPRequestHandler, HTTPServer

BaseHTTPServer is a base class that needs to be subclassed to do anything useful. The most useful methods that can be implemented include:

  • do_GET: Handles a GET request
  • do_POST: Handles a POST request
  • do_OPTIONS: Handle an OPTIONS request (which is the preflight request for CORS)

We create a small function called _send_cors-headers which sends the required headers. Its important to add all the methods that you wish to use with the API in the Access-Control-Allow-Methods header, which in this case is GET,POST,OPTIONS.

The do_OPTIONS method only needs to return a 200 response, CORS only cares about what headers it gets from the OPTIONS request, not the actual response body.

Full Code

#!/usr/bin/env python3

from http.server import BaseHTTPRequestHandler, HTTPServer
from json import dumps

""" The HTTP request handler """
class RequestHandler(BaseHTTPRequestHandler):

  def _send_cors_headers(self):
      """ Sets headers required for CORS """
      self.send_header("Access-Control-Allow-Origin", "*")
      self.send_header("Access-Control-Allow-Methods", "GET,POST,OPTIONS")
      self.send_header("Access-Control-Allow-Headers", "x-api-key,Content-Type")

  def send_dict_response(self, d):
      """ Sends a dictionary (JSON) back to the client """
      self.wfile.write(bytes(dumps(d), "utf8"))

  def do_OPTIONS(self):

  def do_GET(self):

      response = {}
      response["status"] = "OK"

  def do_POST(self):
      self.send_header("Content-Type", "application/json")

      dataLength = int(self.headers["Content-Length"])
      data =


      response = {}
      response["status"] = "OK"

print("Starting server")
httpd = HTTPServer(("", 8000), RequestHandler)
print("Hosting server on port 8000")
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