http api testing with neovim + tmux + httpie

posted apr 14, 2023

tl;dr demo video


if you build stuff for the internet, you’re likely familiar with http api testing tools such as postman or insomnia. these tools are great and offer a lot of convenience for quickly designing and testing endpoints. however, as someone who enjoys working in a terminal, i wanted to come up w/ an alternative more suited to my workflow.

i’ve been using neovim as my primary editor for years now, and i’ve combined it w/ tmux to create a tailored ide experience, which i’ve been really happy with for a long time.

for http api testing, i came up with a solution of combining the following tools:

the setup

in neovim, i configure keymaps which use the vimux plugin to execute commands in an adjacent tmux pane directly from neovim:

<leader>ts - send current visual selection as command to execute in tmux pane
<leader>tl - send current line as command to execute in tmux pane

here’s how they’re implemented in my init.lua:

-- send current visual selection as command to execute in tmux pane
vn <silent> <leader>ts :<C-U>VimuxRunCommand(VisualSelection())<cr>
function! VisualSelection()
  let [line_start, column_start] = getpos("'<")[1:2]
  let [line_end, column_end] = getpos("'>")[1:2]
  let lines = getline(line_start, line_end)
  if len(lines) == 0
    return ''
  let lines[-1] = lines[-1][: column_end - (&selection == 'inclusive' ? 1 : 2)]
  let lines[0] = lines[0][column_start - 1:]
  return join(lines, "\n")

-- send current line as command to execute in tmux pane
vim.keymap.set("n", "<leader>tl", function()
	local line = vim.fn.getline(".")
	vim.cmd("VimuxRunCommand '" .. line .. "'")

httpie allows you to save authentication tokens, custom headers, and other data to a “session” file, which is similar to how postman/insomnia allow you to save endpoints, auth tokens, and other data for a given api. you can read more about how to use httpie sessions using their documentation.

i’ll typically send an initial request using httpie which includes an authentication token and the --session=session-name flag, and then i can continue using that session name w/ httpie to quickly send authorized requests to the same api. i’ll also use the --json flag to let the api know that i’d prefer a json response. this simply tells httpie to send along the Accept: application/json header with the request, and it will save that header to the session file for future requests.

example command for sending an initial request to an api endpoint:

http fakestoreapi.com/products -A bearer -a tldguhropbgchxnmhznu8iwhnlks8qlttbdf7dgg --session=fakestore --json


httpie will now have a session named ‘fakestore’ stored in it’s config directory (~/.config/httpie on linux) with your auth token. now i can use that session to send authorized requests to that api.

now i’ll create a file to document some endpoints. i typically create a file named endpoints.md in a given project directory, and then i’ll write httpie commands for each endpoint. i’ve found writing httpie commands is faster than clicking around in a gui tool like postman/insomnia. their documentation is great, so it’s simple to quickly look up the flags you need to send along w/ a given request.

here’s an example of an endpoints.md file i’ve created for fakestoreapi.com

# fakestoreapi.com

## login

http --session=fakestore \
    --form post fakestoreapi.com/auth/login \
    username=mor_2314 \

## get /products - all products

http fakestoreapi.com/products --session=fakestore

## get /products/{id} - single product

http fakestoreapi.com/products/5 --session=fakestore

## get /products/categories - list favorites

http fakestoreapi.com/products/categories --session=fakestore

## get /users - get all users

http fakestoreapi.com/users --session=fakestore

## post /products - add product

http --session=fakestore \
    --form post fakestoreapi.com/products \
    title="test product" \
    price=1000 \
    description="test description" \
    category="electronics" \

## delete /products/{id} - delete product from favorites

http delete fakestoreapi.com/products/6 --session=fakestore

now i can send requests to these endpoints by navigating to it in my endpoints buffer and pressing <leader>tl to execute that line as a command in my shell. i can also do a visual selection and press <leader>ts to send the current visual selection to tmux, in case a given command is particularly long and it makes sense to have it spanning multiple lines.

now i’m quickly sending authorized requests straight from neovim and inspecting the results in the adjacent tmux pane. awesome!


here’s a short screen capture of me using this workflow:

i’ll continue to tweak this workflow as i use it more, but so far i like it much better than clicking around the interfaces of gui tools like postman/insomnia. i hope this is helpful to someone else out there who prefers to work in a terminal but wants a way to modernize their api testing workflow.

if you have any thoughts on how to to improve this, please let me know.

have fun!