Exploring AEM Request and Response Headers

When interacting with Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), every HTTP request and response carries a wealth of information in their headers. These headers play a pivotal role in the communication between the AEM server and the client’s browser or application.

Key Takeaways

  • HTTP headers in AEM carry essential information for requests and responses.
  • Understanding these headers can lead to better debugging, performance, and security.
  • Request headers can influence the behavior of the AEM server.
  • Response headers provide vital information about the server’s response.
  • Custom headers can be added for specific functionality or tracking purposes.
  • Security headers help protect the application from various web vulnerabilities.
  • Caching headers control how responses are stored and reused.
  • Tools and techniques are available for viewing and manipulating headers.

The Importance of HTTP Headers

The Basics of Communication in AEM

HTTP headers are the key-value pairs sent at the beginning of a request from a client to a server and the response from the server back to the client. They dictate how the browser and server communicate and can affect the behavior of both.

Anatomy of HTTP Headers

Understanding the Components

Every header consists of a name and a value, separated by a colon. For example:

Content-Typetext/html; charset=UTF-8

These headers inform the client about the content type of the response and how long it should be cached.

Request Headers in AEM

Directing the Server

Request headers can include:

  • User-Agent: Identifies the client software.
  • Accept: Tells the server what content types the client can handle.
  • Cookie: Carries cookies from the client to the server.

These headers can affect the processing of the request by AEM.

Response Headers from AEM

Server Replies Explained

Response headers typically contain:

  • Status: Indicates the result of the request (e.g., 200 OK, 404 Not Found).
  • Set-Cookie: Instructs the client to store a cookie.
  • Content-Length: The size of the response body.

These headers help the client understand how to process the server’s response.

Custom Headers for AEM

Tailoring Communication

AEM allows for custom headers to be added for various reasons, such as:

  • Tracking user activity.
  • Controlling cache behavior.
  • Custom authentication mechanisms.

Security Headers in AEM

Safeguarding the Experience

Security-related headers are crucial for protecting the AEM application:

  • Content-Security-Policy: Prevents a wide range of attacks, including Cross-Site Scripting (XSS).
  • X-Frame-Options: Protects against clickjacking attacks.

Implementing these headers can significantly enhance the security posture of an AEM instance.

Caching Headers and AEM

Optimizing Performance

Caching headers dictate how different entities should store the server’s responses:

  • Cache-Control: Directs browsers and proxies on caching mechanics.
  • Expires: A legacy header that specifies an expiration date for cached content.

Proper caching headers can improve the performance of an AEM site by reducing server load and increasing client-side speed.

Tools for Header Management

Inspecting and Modifying Headers

Tools that can help manage headers include:

  1. Browser Developer Tools
  2. AEM Developer Tools
  3. Command-line tools like curl

These tools allow you to view, debug, and modify headers for development and testing purposes.


In the context of AEM, HTTP request and response headers are fundamental to the smooth operation and communication between the server and clients. By understanding and managing these headers effectively, developers and administrators can improve AEM’s performance, enhance security, and provide a better user experience. Familiarity with the headers used in AEM is an invaluable asset for anyone working with the platform.

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