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htty is the HTTP TTY, a console application for interacting with web servers.

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htty is a console application for interacting with web servers. It’s a fun way to explore web APIs and to learn the ins and outs of HTTP.

See what’s changed lately by reading the project history.

Installation

It couldn’t be much easier.

$ gem install htty

You’ll need Ruby and RubyGems. It’s known to work well under OS X against Ruby v1.8.7 and v1.9.2.

Features

  • Intuitive, Tab-completed commands and command aliases
  • Support for familiar HTTP methods GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE, as well as PATCH, HEAD, OPTIONS and TRACE
  • Support for HTTP Secure connections and HTTP Basic Authentication
  • Automatic URL-encoding of userinfo, paths, query-string parameters, and page fragments
  • Transcripts, both verbose and summary
  • Scripting via stdin
  • Dead-simple cookie handling and redirect following
  • Built-in help

The things you can do with htty are:

  • Build a request — you can tweak the address, headers, cookies, and body at will
  • Send the request to the server — after the request is sent, it remains unchanged in your session history
  • Inspect the server’s response — you can look at the status, headers, cookies, and body in various ways
  • Review history — a normal and a verbose transcript of your session are available at all times (destroyed when you quit htty)
  • Reuse previous requests — you can refer to prior requests and copy them

Examples

Here are a few annotated htty session transcripts to get you started.

Querying a web service

This simple example shows how to explore a read-only web service with htty.

ESV Bible Web Service example #1

You can point htty at a complete or partial web URL. If you don’t supply a URL, http://0.0.0.0/ (port 80) will be used. You can vary the protocol scheme, userinfo, host, port, path, query string, and fragment as you wish.

The htty shell prompt shows the address of the current request.

The get command is one of seven HTTP request methods supported. A concise summary of the response is shown when you issue a request.

You can follow redirects using the follow command. No request is made until you type a request command such as get or post.

ESV Bible Web Service example #2

You can tweak segments of the address at will. Here we are navigating the site’s path hierarchy, which you can do with relative as well as absolute pathspecs.

ESV Bible Web Service example #3

Here we add query-string parameters. Notice that characters that require URL encoding are automatically URL-encoded (unless they are part of a URL-encoded expression).

The headers-response and body-response commands reveal the details of a response.

ESV Bible Web Service example #4

There was some cruft in the web service’s response (a horizontal line, a passage reference, verse numbers, a copyright stamp, and line breaks). We eliminate it by using API options provided by the web service we’re talking to.

We do a Julia Child maneuver and use the address command to change the entire URL, rather than add individual query-string parameters one by one.

Exit your session at any time by typing quit or hitting Ctrl-D.

Working with cookies

The next example demonstrates htty’s HTTP Secure support and cookies features, as well as how to review and revisit past requests.

Google example #1

The https:// scheme and port 443 imply each other, just as the http:// scheme and port 80 imply each other. If you omit the scheme or the port, it will default to the appropriate value.

Notice that when cookies are offered in a response, a bold asterisk (it looks like a cookie) appears in the response summary. The same cookie symbol appears next to the Set-Cookie header when you display response headers.

Google example #2

The cookies-use command copies cookies out of the response into the next request. The cookie symbol appears next to the Cookie header when you display request headers.

Google example #3

An abbreviated history is available through the history command. Information about requests in the history includes request method, URL, number of headers (and a cookie symbol, if cookies were sent), and the size of the body. Information about responses in the history includes response code, number of headers (and a cookie symbol, if cookies were received), and the size of the body.

Note that history contains only numbered HTTP request and response pairs, not a record of all the commands you enter.

The reuse command makes a copy of the headers and body of an earlier request for you to build on.

Understanding complex HTTP conversations at a glance using history

Now we’ll look at htty’s HTTP Basic Authentication support and learn how to display unabbreviated transcripts of htty sessions.

Assume that we have the following Sinatra application listening on Sinatra’s default port, 4567.

require 'sinatra'

get '/all-good' do
  [200, [['Set-Cookie', 'foo=bar; baz']], 'Hello World!']
end

put '/huh' do
  [404, 'What?']
end

delete '/hurl' do
  [500, 'Barf!']
end

post '/submit-novel' do
  redirect '/all-good'
end

This application expects GET and POST requests and responds in various contrived ways.

Sinatra application example #1

When you change the userinfo portion of the address, or the entire address, the appropriate HTTP Basic Authentication header is created for you automatically. Notice that characters that require URL encoding are automatically URL-encoded (unless they are part of a URL-encoded expression).

When userinfo is supplied in a request, a bold mercantile symbol (@) appears next to the resulting Authorization header when you display request headers (see below).

Type body-set to enter body data, and terminate it by entering two consecutive blank lines, or by hitting Ctrl-D. The body will only be sent for POST and PUT requests. The appropriate Content-Length header is created for you automatically (see below).

Different response codes are rendered with colors that suggest their meaning:

  • Response codes between 200 and 299 appear black on green to indicate success
  • Response codes between 300 and 399 appear white on blue to indicate redirection
  • Response codes between 400 and 499 appear white on red to indicate failure
  • Response codes between 500 and 599 appear flashing black on yellow to indicate a server error

Sinatra application example #2

As with the abbreviated history demonstrated earlier, verbose history shows a numbered list of requests and the responses they elicited. All information exchanged between client and server is shown.

Getting help

You can learn how to use htty commands from within htty.

htty’s built-in help

The help command takes an optional argument of the abbreviated or full name of a command.

Coming soon

Here are some features that are coming down the pike.

Commands for streamlining web form submission

These features will make htty better at screen-scraping.

Using any of the forthcoming form commands will clear any non-form content in the body of the request. Adding at least one URL-encoded form parameter to the request will set the Content-Type header to application/x-www-form-urlencoded. Removing all URL-encoded form parameters will remove this header.

  • form — display all form parameters offered in the response
  • form-fill — prompt in turn for a value for each of the form inputs in the response
  • form-add name value — add a URL-encoded form parameter for the request, using the specified name and value
  • form-remove name — remove a URL-encoded form parameter from the request, using the specified name
  • form-remove-all — remove all URL-encoded form parameters from the request

You will also be able to pop open a browser window containing request and response bodies.

Custom command aliases and shell emulation of http-console

You should be able to make your own command aliases.

http-console has a nice command-line. We should have an http-console skin for htty.

Contributing

Report defects and feature requests on GitHub Issues.

Your patches are welcome, and you will receive attribution here for good stuff. Fork the official htty repository and send a pull request.

News and information

Stay in touch with the htty project by following @get_htty on Twitter.

You can also get help in the #htty channel on Freenode.

Credits

The author, Nils Jonsson, owes a debt of inspiration to the http-console project.

Thanks to contributors (in alphabetical order):

License

Released under the MIT License.

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