What is JSONP, and why was it created?

JSONP (JSON with padding) is a technique used to overcome the limitations of the same-origin policy imposed by web browsers. It allows us to make cross-domain requests and retrieve data from a different domain. In this article, we will explore what JSONP is, why it was created, and how it solves the problem of cross-domain requests.

Understanding JSONP

JSONP is not a new data format like JSON, but rather a way to fetch data from a different domain using the <script> tag. Let's break it down step by step:

  1. The client (web browser) requests a JavaScript file from a different domain.
  2. The server on the different domain receives the request and wraps the data (typically in JSON format) in a function call.
  3. The server sends back the JavaScript file containing the function call to the client.
  4. The client executes the JavaScript file and the function defined in it, passing the data as an argument to the function.

By wrapping the data in a function call, JSONP bypasses the same-origin policy since the <script> tag is not subjected to the same restrictions.

Why was JSONP created?

JSONP was created to solve the problem of making cross-domain requests in JavaScript. The same-origin policy was implemented by web browsers to prevent malicious websites from accessing and manipulating data from other domains. However, this also prevented legitimate use cases where data needed to be fetched from different domains.

JSONP provides a workaround by fetching data via the <script> tag, which is allowed to load content from different domains. It leverages the fact that script tags can load external JavaScript files, and by wrapping the data in a function call, it can be accessed and processed by the client-side JavaScript code.

How JSONP works

Let's see how JSONP works in practice with an example:

// Server-side code (example in PHP)
$callback = $_GET['callback']; // Get the callback function name from the query string
$data = array('name' => 'John', 'age' => 30); // Some sample data
$response = $callback . '(' . json_encode($data) . ');'; // Wrap the data in the callback function call
header('Content-Type: application/javascript'); // Set the response content type
echo $response; // Output the response

// Client-side code
function processData(data) {
    console.log(data.name); // Access the data returned by the JSONP request

var script = document.createElement('script');
script.src = 'https://example.com/api?callback=processData'; // Specify the callback function in the query string
document.body.appendChild(script); // Append the script tag to the document

In this example, the server receives a request with a callback function name specified in the query string. It then wraps the JSON-encoded data in the callback function call and sends the JavaScript file back to the client. The client-side code dynamically creates a <script> tag with the appropriate URL and callback function name. When the script is loaded, the callback function is executed with the data passed as an argument.

Benefits of using JSONP

JSONP offers several benefits:

  • Cross-domain requests: JSONP allows you to fetch data from a different domain, which is otherwise not possible due to the same-origin policy.
  • Client-side flexibility: The client-side code can define the callback function and process the data as needed.
  • Broad browser support: JSONP is supported by all major web browsers, making it a reliable solution for cross-domain requests.
  • Simplicity: JSONP is easy to implement and does not require complex server-side configurations.

Alternatives to JSONP

While JSONP was widely used in the past, there are now alternative methods for making cross-domain requests:

  1. CORS (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing): CORS is a standard mechanism that allows servers to specify who can access its resources. It requires server-side configuration but provides more control and security compared to JSONP.
  2. Proxy server: Another option is to use a proxy server that acts as an intermediary between the client and the server, forwarding requests and responses.
  3. Server-side endpoint: If you have control over the server, you can create an API endpoint specifically designed to handle cross-domain requests.


JSONP is a technique that allows cross-domain requests by leveraging the <script> tag and wrapping the data in a function call. It was created to overcome the limitations of the same-origin policy and provides a simple and widely supported solution for fetching data from different domains. While JSONP has been widely used in the past, newer alternatives like CORS offer more control and security. Understanding JSONP and its alternatives can help you choose the right approach for your specific requirements.