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Extracting URL Paths in Node.js


In the realm of web development, particularly when working with Node.js, understanding how to manipulate and extract components from URLs is crucial. Whether you're handling redirects, routing, or simply need to parse information from URLs, knowing how to isolate the path from a full URL string is a valuable skill. This article will guide you through the process, covering different scenarios such as missing protocols and variations in URL formats.

Extracting Pathnames in Node.js

Node.js offers a built-in URL module that simplifies the process of URL parsing. By utilizing this module, you can easily access various parts of a URL, such as the pathname, which is the portion of the URL following the domain name.

Using the URL Module

To extract the path from a URL in Node.js, follow these steps:

  1. Parse the URL: Create a URL object from the string. This object provides properties and methods to access different parts of the URL.

    const url = new URL('http://localhost:3111/asdf');
  2. Access the Pathname: Once the URL object is created, you can directly access the pathname property to get the path.

    console.log(url.pathname);  // Outputs: /asdf

Handling Different Protocols and Missing Protocols

The URL module handles various protocols (http, https, etc.) seamlessly. However, if the URL string lacks a protocol, you'll need to prepend one before parsing. Here's how you can manage such cases:

function extractPath(url) {
  try {
    // Parse the URL with the given protocol
    return new URL(url).pathname;
  } catch (error) {
    // Prepend 'http://' if the protocol is missing and retry
    return new URL('http://' + url).pathname;

This function attempts to parse the URL as provided. If it fails, presumably due to a missing protocol, it prepends 'http://' and tries again.

Checking URL Prefixes in JavaScript

Often, you might need to check if a URL starts with a certain protocol or character. JavaScript strings provide simple methods to achieve this.

Checking for Protocols

To determine if a string starts with "http://" or "https://", you can use the startsWith method or a regular expression:

Using startsWith:

function startsWithHttp(url) {
  return url.startsWith('http://') || url.startsWith('https://');

Using Regular Expressions:

function startsWithHttp(url) {
  return /^(http:\/\/|https:\/\/)/.test(url);

Identifying a Leading Slash

Similarly, to check if a string begins with a '/', you can either use charAt(0) or directly access the first character:

function startsWithSlash(str) {
  return str[0] === '/';

Common Pitfalls and Solutions

When manipulating URLs in JavaScript, particularly in Node.js, developers might encounter certain pitfalls. Here are a few common ones along with their solutions:


Mastering URL parsing and manipulation in Node.js empowers developers to handle web-related tasks more effectively. By leveraging the built-in URL module and understanding JavaScript's string methods, you can seamlessly extract pathnames, check URL prefixes, and avoid common pitfalls. Keep experimenting and exploring Node.js's capabilities to enhance your web development skills.

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