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Ionbeam is a utility to run tests against HTTP servers. Its primary focus is functionality testing and not performance testing. You write test suits and run them against your servers while validating the output in the responses.


$ make


Run the release like so

$ _rel/ionbeam/bin/ionbeam console
Eshell V9.1.2  (abort with ^G)

Just starting it does not do anything though. You need to write your test module and put it in the src folder before you build. Then invoke your test module's test function. (So, yes, ionbeam is more of a library at the moment and very much a work in progress. We will see how it is eventually packaged up. I am open for suggestions.)


Eshell V9.1.2  (abort with ^G)
(ionbeam@> tester:run().
11:31:47.017 [info]    running "Authenticating/logging in"
11:31:47.017 [info]      request: POST http://localhost:80/api/login

Writing tests

Tests consist of tasks. Each task is defined by an Erlang map that describes what server to make the request against, what request path to use, what headers to use and what body to use. The task also defines the constraints you put on the response from the server - what you expect from the server - regarding returned response code, returned headers and returned body.

All fields in a task, such as the headers or the body, can include variables, so think of the fields as templates that are to be filled in. The values for the variables will be taken from the input context of the task and running a task and getting a response will produce an output context that can then be fed into the next task to be executed. For each task, you define what values to extract from the responses and how to use values in the input context to form the request.

Defining tasks

A task is defined as an Erlang map that has fields divided into two groups - those that define the request to be done and those that define how to validate and and extract information from the reponse. The request fields includes fields such as method, host, path and body and the response fields include status, headers and body. All these fields have default values (defined in ionbeam_task.erl) so if you are not interested in what headers or body are returned from the server you can skip specifying the headers and the body constraints, and so on.


    LoginTask = #{
      description => "POST /api/login",

      request => #{
        method => "POST",
        host => "localhost",
        headers => "Accept: application/json\r\nContent-Type: application/json\r\n\r\n",
        path => "/api/login",
        body => "{\"email\":\"$(USER_NAME)\",\"password\":\"$(PASSWORD)\"}"

      response => #{
        status => [200],
        headers => #{
          match => ["Content-Type: $(_CONTENT_TYPE)"],
          "_CONTENT_TYPE" => "application/json"
        body => #{
          match => "$(_A)\"token\":\"$(TOKEN)\"$(_C)"

In the example above you can see for instance that the body field includes variables such as USER_NAME and PASSWORD. Variables in fields that define the request (method, host, headers, path and body) must all be present and have a value in the input context when you run this task or else the task will fail.

There can be variables also in the response fields of a task (in the example above there is a TOKEN variable present in the body field and a _CONTENT_TYPE variable in the headers field). These variables will be matched against the actual response from the server and bound to values stored in the output context. Running the login task above will extract the TOKEN value out of the response body, the content type out of the response headers and put both these values in the output context (iff the response matches the supplied constraints that is).

To enforce that a value extracted from a respone must have a certain value you add the specific value to the constraints object. See, for instance, in the example, how the _CONTENT_TYPE variable is enforced to be "application/json" in the respone or else the task will fail.

By default a value can only be bound once in a context. So if you try to bind a value, such as TOKEN, and it already exists in the context with a different value the match will fail. If you are not interested in comparing values between tasks and still would like to reuse the variable name you can prefix the variable name with an underscore (such as in the example for _CONTENT_TYPE). This would mean that the variable will not be brought over to the next task and will not cause that task to fail if that task comes up with a different value for the variable name.

Putting tasks together into scripts

In order to run your tasks one after the other, you put together the tasks in a script which is an Erlang list of tasks with their input and output contexts. Example:

                        %% do login
                        {LoginTask, #{"USER_NAME" => "alice",
                                      "PASSWORD" => "secret"}, 'LoginCtx'},

                        %% do list items
                        {ListItemsTask, 'LoginCtx', 'ListItemsCtx'}

The contexts are referred to through its name. In the above example, the output context of the LoginTask task is named 'LoginCtx' which is fed in as an input context to ListItemsTask. The input context can be specified either as a map, the atom '_' (which means 'the empty context'), the name (as an Erlang atom) of an existing context or you could specify it as a function that takes a map as argument - a map containing all previously created contexts. The latter option may be used if you would like to programmatically merge many different contexts together into one, or create a context from other sources.

To continue the example above, let us define the ListItemsTask as well:

    ListItemsTask = #{
      description => "GET /api/items",

      request => #{
        host => "localhost",
        headers => "Accept: application/json\r\nX-Token: $(TOKEN)\r\n\r\n",
        path => "/api/items"

      response => #{
        headers => #{
          match => ["Content-Type: $(_CONTENT_TYPE)"],
          "_CONTENT_TYPE" => "application/json"
        body => #{
          match => "$(_BODY)"

As you can see, this pretended HTTP API needs an authentication header X-Token with a token value, which is the value returned from the login request above. We therefore give the output context from the LoginTask task as input context to the ListItemsTask task. We don't do much validation for this task except for the status code which, since we did not say anything, must be 200 and the Content-Type value must be "application/json".

The automatic matching of variables is done using the template library which is fine, generic and all, but for very large bodies of data it might not be that impressive when it comes to performance. It could also be that you would like to programmatically parse and extract certain information that cannot be described using the template matcher so therefore it is possible to, instead of using match, set body to be an erlang fun that vill validate the body instead. This function takes two arguments - the body and the current context - and you can then parse the body in whatever way you like and return a new context (or return an error tuple - {error, "some reason"} - if you do not think the body is correct). As an example, say that the body returned is a json document that you should test to have a field "members" (as a list) and you want to check if "stefan" is a member of that list. The resulting body validation fun, if we use jiffy for json parsing, could then look something like like:

        body =>
              fun(Body, Ctx) ->
                      #{<<"members">> := Members} = jiffy:decode(Body, [return_maps]),
                      case lists:member(<<"stefan">>, Members) of
                          true ->
                          _ ->
                              {error, "stefan must be a member, but was not"}


An http testing framework






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