Proxying to another web service with Flask

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Proxying to another web service with Flask

I want to proxy requests made to my Flask app to another web service running locally on the machine. I’d rather use Flask for this than our higher-level nginx instance so that we can reuse our existing authentication system built into our app. The more we can keep this “single sign on” the better.

Is there an existing module or other code to do this? Trying to bridge the Flask app through to something like httplib or urllib is proving to be a pain.

Asked By: Joe Shaw


Answer #1:

I have an implementation of a proxy using httplib in a Werkzeug-based app (as in your case, I needed to use the webapp’s authentication and authorization).

Although the Flask docs don’t state how to access the HTTP headers, you can use request.headers (see Werkzeug documentation). If you don’t need to modify the response, and the headers used by the proxied app are predictable, proxying is staightforward.

Note that if you don’t need to modify the response, you should use the werkzeug.wsgi.wrap_file to wrap httplib’s response stream. That allows passing of the open OS-level file descriptor to the HTTP server for optimal performance.

Answered By: jd.

Answer #2:

I spent a good deal of time working on this same thing and eventually found a solution using the requests library that seems to work well. It even handles setting multiple cookies in one response, which took a bit of investigation to figure out. Here’s the flask view function:

from flask import request, Response
import requests

def _proxy(*args, **kwargs):
    resp = requests.request(
        url=request.url.replace(request.host_url, ''),
        headers={key: value for (key, value) in request.headers if key != 'Host'},

    excluded_headers = ['content-encoding', 'content-length', 'transfer-encoding', 'connection']
    headers = [(name, value) for (name, value) in resp.raw.headers.items()
               if name.lower() not in excluded_headers]

    response = Response(resp.content, resp.status_code, headers)
    return response
Answered By: Evan

Answer #3:

My original plan was for the public-facing URL to be something like proxying to Down that path leads madness.

Most webapps, particularly self-hosted ones, assume that they’re going to be running at the root of a HTTP server and do things like reference other files by absolute path. To work around this, you have to rewrite URLs all over the place: Location headers and HTML, JavaScript, and CSS files.

I did write a Flask proxy blueprint which did this, and while it worked well enough for the one webapp I really wanted to proxy, it was not sustainable. It was a big mess of regular expressions.

In the end, I set up a new virtual host in nginx and used its own proxying. Since both were at the root of the host, URL rewriting was mostly unnecessary. (And what little was necessary, nginx’s proxy module handled.) The webapp being proxied to does its own authentication which is good enough for now.

Answered By: Joe Shaw

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