When sending information to a server, like navigating the web is wont to do, it is important to understand how that information can be sent. As with most things in programming, it isn't a one-size-fits-all approach.

These are dependent upon the method, like GET or POST, and what you as the programmer prefer.

Passing Parameters

You can pass parameters from the client to the server in a variety of ways.

Some of the most common are:

  • on the Path
    • (after a /)
  • in a GET request's "query" section
    • (after the ?)
  • in a POST request in JSON format
    • (inside the request body)

For Example...

Let's imagine three different ways to send the same information to GitHub.com:

  user: "BurlingtonCodeAcademy",
  repo: "til",
  section: "blob",
  branch: "master",
  filepath: "/README.md"

Path Parameters

path parameters are great for making legible URLs. Your URL is part of your user interface; treat it like the address of a resource!

This path: http://github.com/BurlingtonCodeAcademy/til/blob/master/README.md

would match this route in express: js app.get('/:user/:repo/:section/:branch/:filepath',(req,res)=>{ console.log(req.params) })

That is, if GitHub's server was a simple express app ;-)

The Path Explained

The path is the part of the URL that comes after the address, and specifies where to look for specific resources on the site.

In the early days of the internet the path was just a file path for the resources, but as time has passed the path has become an abstraction

The URL path represents a navigation pattern to help the user locate resources in a logical manner. We can then use express to send the desired information regardless of the actual file structure.

Path Parameters Explained

Path Parameters are variable names that will be assigned to the value that was put into the URL when the request was received

so this path:


Would match this route in Express:


And set up local variables automatically for your route handler when it receives the request

user = "BurlingtonCodeAcademy"
repo = "til"
section = "blob"
branch = "master"
filepath = "README.md"

Query Parameters

Query Parameters use the same URL slot as normal queries, but use a particular format to encode multiple parameters into a single string. This should sound familiar from our lesson on URLS.


This would be available to an express server like so:


This is admittedly a little convoluted to look at. You're sure to have seen it at some point, however, especially in search engines where the long strings of text can be handled by the browser.

Query Parameters Explained

If a URL contains a question mark ? everything that comes after the question mark is a query parameter

Requests can pass multiple query parameters to the server on a single request separated by ampersands & and accessed through the request.query property in express

Given the example on the last slide the in the console we would see an object that looks like this:

  user: "BurlingtonCodeAcademy",
  repo: "til",
  section: "blob",
  branch: "master",
  filename: "README.md"

Note: You don't need to pass the query as part of the route express is listening for when you're setting up your route handler.

Post Parameters

The other HTTP method used for passing parameters is POST. POST is implicitly more secure, as the information isn't sent directly to the server through a super-visible URL. Instead, it is contained in a post body when the information is JSON formatted.

POST /file 


assuming the proper middleware is in place, this information would be available in express like so:


Summary: GET vs POST

All requests are sent from the client to the server, but there are multiple types of request collectively known as request methods

HTTP defines several methods (GET, POST, PUT, HEAD, etc...) the most common are GET and POST

GET requests

  • Triggered natively by a change to the URL in the browser, or a fetch request
  • Ask for a specific resource from the server
  • Sends over full URL, including path, and query parameters as part of the request

POST requests

  • Used to send (usually user generated) data to the server
  • Often send by a form
  • Sends across a request object containing data
  • Express uses middleware to properly parse POST requests
  • POST data in Express can be accessed through request.body


The concept of "path parameters" is central to an idea called REST.

It argues that people designing web applications should consider their apps URLs to be an essential part of their app's design and functionality, and that those URL paths should follow a convention that exposes parts of the app as resources that can be identified and interacted with individually using a common set of methods (that happen to be more or less the same as the HTTP methods).