HTTPS proxy an API using Nginx

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Have you ever been faced with using a JSONP API for your favourite service, only to have your HTTPS site throw complaints that all elements of the page weren’t delivered securely? Since the calls are being made client-side, unless you get lucky and the service has an HTTPS version of their API, you’ll have to resort to using a proxy. Luckily, nginx makes it really easy to configure your own.

I recently ran into this problem when I was using the Chartbeat API. We already used nginx for a lot of our reverse-proxying, so it just took a config change to get it proxying the Chartbeat API as well. I’ve included the configuration below. In the client-side Javascript, we then just changed any call like https://api.chartbeat.com/toppages/?host=[host]&limit=[limit]&apikey=[apikey] to be https://www.EXAMPLE.com/api.chartbeat.com/toppages/?host=[host]&limit=[limit]&apikey=[apikey]. For Chartbeat, the request looks just like it would if it were coming from the client directly.

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Once you have the basic functionality in-place, you can even add some security by hiding the apikey parameter from public-view, or add some scaling by putting a CDN in-front of your domain. Is there anything nginx can’t do?

server
{
  listen   443;

  ssl    on;
  ssl_certificate    	/root/my_certificate.pem;
  ssl_certificate_key    	/root/my_certificate.key;

  server_name _;
  server_name_in_redirect  off;

  location /api.chartbeat.com/
  {
    rewrite /api.chartbeat.com(/.*)$ $1 break;
    proxy_set_header  X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
    proxy_pass https://api.chartbeat.com;
    proxy_set_header Host api.chartbeat.com;
    proxy_connect_timeout 1;
    proxy_next_upstream error timeout http_500 http_502 http_503 http_504 http_404;
    proxy_intercept_errors on;
    expires 30;
    add_header Content-Type text/javascript;
    break;
  }

 }

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