Discover a few trending Node.js HTTP request libraries or client tools that enable your web apps, website, or apps to exchange data with other servers.
If you are going to develop a web app that will interact with third-party or in-house servers to fetch data and accomplish tasks like messaging, ordering items, etc., your app needs to communicate with web APIs. You can make your app do so by producing HTTP requests.
Instead of programming an HTTP request module from scratch, developers rely on various Node.js HTTP request libraries. Most of these tools are available with an open-source license. Hence, there are no extra costs.
Using Node.js HTTP clients and request libraries is a modern way of app development, and most developers learn this at the beginning of their careers. Hence, if you are a newbie developer or simply want to know the popular HTTP request libraries for Node.js, you have come to the right place. Enjoy reading until the end and discover some fascinating HTTP request tools.
What Are HTTP Requests?
A client underlying a web or mobile app makes HTTP requests to a named host. The host is usually available on an in-house or third-party server. The client utilizes various URL components like the host, scheme, query string, and path to make the HTTP call to a named host on a server.
There could be a few or multiple HTTP requests in a web or mobile app. Irrespective of their function, the following elements must be present if you want to compose the HTTP request appropriately:
- The HTTP request line.
- HTTP header fields or headers in a series.
- IF needed, a message body can be there as well.
In an HTTP request message, the request line is the first item. It, however, comprises three other elements like the request method, request path, and the HTTP version.
A request method is usually a one-word command for the server. For example, the regular request methods are GET, HEAD, POST, PUT, CONNECT, etc. Between the method and HTTP version, there should be a path or location of the resource on the target server.
GET /applications/htp/cics/index.html HTTP/1.1
To help the recipient with vital information about the request, you need to put a header message. It tells the recipient server what the message is, the sender’s information, and the method of communication.
For example, you want your app to fetch documents that have been updated on 11 Jan 2022 at 10:00:00 GMT in English and French. Then you must use the following header:
Accept-Language: en, fr<br>If-Modified-Since: Tue, 11 Jan 2022 10:00:00 GMT
The text content of an HTTP message is the entity-body or message body. It is not mandatory for all the request methods. For example, you do not need to include a message body if you call an HTTP request for the GET method.
On the contrary, if you use a POST method to send data to a server using an HTTP request, you must include a message about the data posting instructions.
What Are HTTP Requests in Node?
In real-time and web apps where your program needs to interact with external or internal servers and fetch data to a client app, HTTP requests in Node.js must be executed. Here, the client app and server function like two computers.
The HTTP request from the Node.js server-side runtime environment is the first set of data communication between these two computers. The target server processes this HTTP request and sends back another set of data packets. We call it a response.
Developers abundantly use Node.js for tasks like chat rooms, form data collection, browser games, API on an object database, data streaming, queued input, and more. In all these use cases, HTTP Requests in Node play a significant role.
Need for Node.js HTTP Client and Request Libraries
An HTTP request library for Node.js provides a simplified and clean user interface to create HTTP calls. Such libraries or modules make HTTP request-based tasks truly effortless. Using such tools means eliminating a bulk line of codes and making your apps lightweight.
Also, you are saving time by not constructing a full-service Node.js HTTP request module from scratch. Furthermore, you are not commissioning a third-party developer to do this task for you and save on development costs.
You can pick the right HTTP request library for Node.js for your app development project and let the library handle all the HTTP calls your app will make.
All these open sources or paid libraries come with a defined framework for creating HTTP requests. The framework is based on Java’s built-in HTTP classes. Additionally, these libraries use Simple Logging Facade for Java, SLF4J, as the sole external dependency. Hence, the resulting codebase for the library becomes exceptionally lightweight.
How Does Node.js HTTP Request Work?
You can compare HTTP requests with your computer web browser enabling you to connect with a remote server that caters to GRE applications.
When you click on the registration link, your browser requests some data from the server. Then, when you fill-up the GRE examination form, your browser sends data to the server and requests it to save those.
For the HTTP request events to work, programmers use various request methods as mentioned below:
The GET method shows maximum usage for API calls and other HTTPS requests, where no data changes are needed. It mainly establishes the primary connection with the server and lets the client app request data from the server.
When you remove resources from a remote server, the Node.js runtime runs an HTTP call based on the DELETE method.
POST method-based HTTP requests are executed when a web or mobile app needs a remote server to save the client app’s data.
Consider accessing a social media app on the web and modifying your account information. It means you are updating data on the server. In such cases, the underlying runtime executes HTTP requests with the PUT method.
A remote server may not support all sorts of data communication methods that your web app can. Hence, your app must make an OPTIONS method-based HTTP request to understand the server’s communication methods.
An HTTP call library will execute a HEAD request method if the transmitted data is large and wants to avoid the message body in the response data.
The TRACE method for HTTP requests helps the client app log the communication route with the server.
So far, you have gone through the basics, needs, and working of Node.js HTTP request libraries. Next in line is to explore various HTTP clients and request libraries in Node.js that make your software, app, and website development life more accessible.
Here are the tools that you need to check out if you are into HTTP requests:
You should be using Axios in place of the Node.js native HTTP or HTTPS standard libraries for API calls due to the following features:
- Axios is the best-suited library to stop request tasks.
- It is compatible with older and modern web browsers.
- You get out-of-the-box CSRF protection.
- You can set a response timeout as well.
- It offers automatic JSON data transformations.
- You can create an upload progress display.
- Axios is compatible with the Promise API.
You can get the library for free on GitHub. It comes with an MIT License. Hence, there is a limited restriction on code reuses.
GOT is a powerful and human-friendly HTTP request library for Node.js. At the time of writing, more than 8,000 packages and over 4 million reports use GOT for HTTP calls for Node.js.
Furthermore, over ten expert developers are behind the project to maintain the library actively so that your apps can become stable and serve the customers without any issues.
Though the library comes with an open-source MIT license, several popular businesses and brands have also trusted this library for making HTTP requests. For example, Segment, Antora, GetVoIP, Exoframe, Natural Cycles, Microlink, and more use the GOT library.
SuperAgent is yet another preferred HTTP request library among developers since it is a progressive ajax API. It is also lightweight and does not make your final web app’s codebase complex and heavy. It has been developed to offer readability and flexibility when making HTTP requests.
Key library features are:
- Timeouts option to abort requests when the target server never responds and is stuck indefinitely.
- You can enable authentication for extra security using the .auth() method.
- This Node.js HTTP request client offers pipe data from and to the request.
If you have tried many HTTP request clients for Node.js and find them extensively complex, you can try Superagent. Because it comes with a shallow learning curve when compared with its competitors.
Yet another trendy and heavily downloaded HTTP request library for Node.js on npm is Node Fetch. At the time of writing, the library has already received more than 36 million downloads per week.
Notable features of this Node.js HTTP request client are:
- Perform consistently when working with window.fetch API.
- The library makes conscious trade-offs when following stream specs and WhatWG fetch standard implementations.
- It uses a native promise library but you can replace it with another one you like.
- Comes with native Node streams for the body on both response and request.
- It can decode content encodings like deflate or gzip appropriately.
Like its competitors, it comes with an MIT License for free usage on commercial and web apps.
KY Delightful HTTP Requests
If you have been using fetch so far, and want something modern, try out KY. It offers many benefits like a simpler API; retries failed requests, timeout support, JSON option, URL prefix option, and many more.
Needle is a streamable and nimble HTTP request client for Node.js. Its code base includes only two dependencies and is considered a lightweight library. Some notable features are:
- HTTPS/HTTP requests with the usual methods.
- It supports all the native TLS options of Node like rejectUnauthorized, ciphers, secureProtocol, etc.
It is an open-source library and comes with the famous MIT License.
Undici is an Italian word meaning Eleven. It is an HTTP/1.1 client for HTTP calls for the Node.js runtime-based web apps. The module is available under the MIT License for open source tools.
At the time of writing, npm has recorded over 2 million weekly downloads. It is trendy among the developers since it is a full-service HTTP request client and does not use any 3rd party dependencies.
Finally, you have discovered some powerful and popular Node.js HTTP client and request libraries. All the above Node.js HTTP request libraries and client tools have some standard and unique features. The unique features will drive which tool you should use.
You must do some homework before choosing an HTTP request client and library. Otherwise, you might face errors, issues, and user inconveniences in the middle of the project.
For example, the tech stack of the development project should give you some hints about which API you should choose. Another important consideration of the number of HTTP calls your app or website will make. Furthermore, the frequency of the HTTP requests is also a crucial consideration.
Last but not least, if you want the ultimate project to be lightweight or heavy, you need to choose the appropriate HTTP request API at the beginning of the project.
You may also be interested in the best Node.js bundler and build tools and Node.js monitoring tools.