POSTMAN and HTTPie to test APIs

We love working with APIs at Mashape, and we love sharing with our community new tools that make your life easier when consuming APIs.

Today, we’re taking a look at POSTMAN (Free edition), a GUI powered API client and HTTPie a powerful CLI replacement (or addition) for cURL.

 

1. POSTMAN

POSTMAN is a compelling HTTP client for APIs built by Abhinav Asthana. With POSTMAN you can consume APIs in a straightforward way, solving the complexity of complex HTTP query and parsing. You can download POSTMAN here: http://www.getpostman.com/. As the website states, this tool has been the highest rated productivity app on the Chrome Web Store with more than 500,000 downloads.

POSTMAN UI

Fig 1. This is what POSTMAN looks like at first glance

Personally I find that POSTMAN has a very clean and simple interface that allows anyone to consume APIs in matter of seconds. After the installation, you can run this tool as a web-packaged app running independently of your Chrome browser. This means you still need Chrome to be installed somewhere on your machine.

In terms of features, POSTMAN has the ability to quickly run API queries and have a back-log (called History in POSTMAN) that allows anyone to replay a certain query, or multiple. This is a great way when you’re testing an API and want to play with different values without having to copy-paste the request over and over, while maintaining (using the option) every single output response from the server.

 

Quickly Abstract your API documentation

A clear documentation is often the key to a good API. After all, it is vital that a developer is able to understand your product and consume your API easily. So why not prepare a bunch of API requests with pre-filled data for him to test different aspects?

At Mashape we allow you to document your API, and insert default values to kickstart the API development and consumption process. On top of that, we allow you to give meaningful response models to each call. This way when someone runs a query against an endpoint, there will be no surprises! A good way to understand how to structure your documentation is to have a bunch of endpoints with pre-filled values hosted somewhere. And this is where POSTMAN comes in handy, you can arrange API calls in folders called Collections.

POSTMAN allows you to collect a bunch of endpoints into a collection for later use. This is a great way to get ready to deploy your documentation on Mashape as it gives you an idea of which endpoints, parameters and models you’ll be using when documenting your API.

 

Multiple Auth Support

Nearly all APIs require a form of authentication.

  • Basic Authentication – The typical https://apikey:secretkey@api.site.com/resource combo to authenticate a request
  • Query Authentication – Using a parameter passed with each request to authorise it such as: https://api.site.com/?token=123abc
  • OAuth 1a and 2 Authentication – The typical Oauth authentication flow

 

API Testing (PAID plan)

With the paid plan, you can use simple Javascript code snippets to test your API responses. Some of the tests you can run in POSTMAN are checking response times, status codes and validating server responses. The Test suite allows to cut down on development lines of code written by developers to test APIs, but it comes with a small cost as this feature is actually only available to paid users at $9.99$ for a lifetime license.

 

2. HTTPie

If you work with APIs, you most probably have used cURL at least a couple of times in your life. cURL is extremely powerful, but a pain in the back to use when dealing with a lot of API calls written manually. HTTPie sets itself as a solution to the verbosity and “complexity” of cURL commands. In my opinion it’s great and if you’ve not been using HTTPie in your workflow you’re missing out!

 

cURL vs HTTPie

curl -u "APINAME:APIKEY" -X POST -d '{"name": "orliesaurus", "Age": 12, "Vegan": false}' -H "Content-type: application/json" https://api.arewesome.ws/v0/user.json

 

or the same re-written in HTTPie’s lingo

http -a "APINAME:APIKEY" POST name="orliesaurus" Age:=12 Vegan:=false https://api.arewesome.ws/v0/user.json

Way better right?

These are the things you need to remember when using HTTPie, pretty much, the rest comes au naturel!

Item Type Description
HTTP Headers
Name:Value
Arbitrary HTTP header, e.g. X-API-Token:123.
URL parameters
name == value
Appends the given name/value pair as a query string parameter to the URL. The == separator is used.
Data Fields
field=value,field=@file.txt
Request data fields to be serialized as a JSON object (default), or to be form-encoded (–form, -f).
Raw JSON fields
field:=json,field:=@file.json
Useful when sending JSON and one or more fields need to be a Boolean,Number, nested Object, or an Array, e.g., meals:='[“ham”,”spam”]’
or
pies:=[1,2,3] (note the quotes).
Form File Fields
field@/dir/file
Only available with –form, -f. For example: screenshot@~/Pictures/img.png. The presence of a file field results in a multipart/form-data request.

 

So what are you waiting for?

pip install --upgrade httpie

 

or if you’re on MAC OS and want to use brew:

brew install httpie