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The 204 No Content Status Code Explained - HTTP Status Code 204

Bhargava MNN
~ 7 min read | Published on Mar 28, 2024





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What is a 204 Status Code?

HTTP status codes provide information about the status of a request made by a client to a server. Among these, the 204 No Content status code indicates that the server successfully processed the request but does not need to return any content. It's essentially a way for the server to communicate to the client that the request was received, understood, and accepted, but there is no new information to send back.

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What are the Possible Use Cases for 204 Status Code?

1. Acknowledgment of Successful Deletion

When a client sends a request to delete a resource, such as unsubscribing from a newsletter, the server can respond with a 204 status code to indicate successful deletion without returning any additional content.

2. Polling or Heartbeat Mechanisms

In scenarios where a client continuously polls a server for updates or keeps a connection alive (heartbeats), the server may respond with a 204 status code to acknowledge receipt of the request without sending any new data.

3. Saving Bandwidth and Resources

For AJAX requests or API calls where the client only needs to know if the operation was successful, using a 204 status code saves bandwidth and resources by eliminating the need to transmit unnecessary data.

4. Optimal Caching

In cases where a client requests data that is already cached locally, the server can respond with a 204 status code to instruct the client to use the cached version, thus reducing server load and network traffic.

5. Preflight Requests in CORS

Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) preflight requests, which are used to determine whether a cross-origin request is safe to send, can return a 204 status code if the actual request method is permitted.

How to Implement 204 Status Code in JavaScript

Implementing a 204 status code in JavaScript involves configuring the server to respond with this status code for specific requests. Below is an example using Node.js and Express:

const express = require('express');
const app = express();

app.delete('/resource', (req, res) => {
  // Logic to delete the resource
  res.status(204).end();
});

app.listen(3000, () => {
  console.log('Server is running on port 3000');
});

In this example, when a DELETE request is made to /resource, the server responds with a 204 status code using res.status(204).end().

Best Practices for Using 204 Status Code

1. Provide Clear Documentation

Ensure that API documentation clearly explains when and why the 204 status code will be returned, along with any relevant context or expectations for client behavior.

2. Use Consistently Across APIs

Maintain consistency in using the 204 status code across different endpoints and APIs within your application to avoid confusion for developers consuming your API.

3. Consider Client Expectations

Before using a 204 status code, consider whether clients expect or require a response body. If so, consider alternatives such as returning a 200 status code with an empty response body.

4. Handle Errors Appropriately

If an error occurs during processing but the client request was valid, avoid using a 204 status code. Instead, return an appropriate error status code along with relevant error information.

5. Monitor and Analyze Usage

Regularly monitor API usage and analyze how clients interact with endpoints returning a 204 status code. This can help identify opportunities for optimization or improvements in client-server communication.

How to Test 204 Status Code on Postman

To test a 204 status code using Postman:

  1. Open Postman and create a new request.
  2. Enter the request URL and select the appropriate HTTP method (e.g., DELETE).
  3. Send the request.
  4. In the response section, verify that the status code is 204 and there is no content returned in the response body.

How to Test 204 Status Code in DevTools Browser in Chrome

To test a 204 status code using Chrome DevTools:

  1. Open Chrome and navigate to the webpage or API endpoint you want to test.
  2. Open DevTools by pressing F12 or right-clicking on the page and selecting "Inspect."
  3. Go to the Network tab.
  4. Perform the action that triggers the request returning a 204 status code (e.g., deleting a resource).
  5. Look for the corresponding request in the Network tab and verify that the status code is 204.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can a server send a 204 status code in response to a GET request?

A: Yes, a server can respond with a 204 status code to indicate that the request was successful but there is no content to return. However, it's important to consider whether this aligns with RESTful principles and client expectations.

Q: How does a 204 status code differ from a 200 status code with an empty response body?

A: While both indicate a successful request, a 204 status code specifically signifies that the server processed the request but does not need to return any content. In contrast, a 200 status code with an empty response body implies that the server intentionally returned no content.

Q: Is it possible to include headers in a response with a 204 status code?

A: Yes, servers can include headers in responses with a 204 status code. This allows servers to communicate additional information to the client even when no content is returned.

Q: Can a client expect caching instructions with a 204 status code?

A: Yes, servers can include caching instructions in responses with a 204 status code using Cache-Control headers. This helps clients understand how to cache the response or handle cached data appropriately.

Q: Are there any security considerations when using a 204 status code?

A: While a 204 status code itself does not introduce security vulnerabilities, it's essential to ensure that sensitive information is not inadvertently exposed in response headers or other parts of the HTTP exchange.

Conclusion

Understanding the 204 No Content status code is crucial for effective communication between clients and servers in web development. By implementing and utilizing this status code appropriately, developers can improve the efficiency, performance, and clarity of their applications. For monitoring and handling errors effectively, consider using Zipy's tool with session replay capabilities. Learn more at Zipy.

Read more resources on 2xx status codes

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Feel free to comment or write to us in case you have any further questions at support@zipy.ai. We would be happy to help you. In case you want to explore for your app, you can sign up or book a demo.











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