Missing X-Forwarded-For header in Spring Boot application

So here is another one from the trenches.

More than once one of our OpenShift Container Platform customers approached us and said something along the lines of: “Help, I cannot see the X-Forwarded-For header in my application, our OpenShift Router is probably configured incorrectly!”.

In such cases, it is often a good idea to check what is really being forwarded to the Pods in the cluster. For this, I typically use my simonkrenger/echoenv container to print the headers received by the application. In many cases, it turns out that the application affected is a Spring Boot application and the header is passed correctly to the Pod itself. But the Spring Boot application does not show the header anyway.

We have observed a behaviour of Spring Boot that leads to the X-Forwarded-For header not being passed to the application, as it is consumed by Spring Boot. In the application.properties of a Spring Boot application, the following setting controls this:

server.use-forward-headers: true

This configuration leads to the header being consumed by Spring Boot and the header not being available in the application. See also the relevant sections in Spring documentation. Good to know.