Making HTTP Requests in Python: requests vs. pycurl

Feb 3, 2024 ยท 2 min read

Python provides several options for making HTTP requests. Two popular choices are the requests library and pycurl. Both can handle common tasks like GET, POST, headers, SSL, etc. So when should you use one over the other?

requests: Simple, Pythonic HTTP

The requests library provides an elegant and Pythonic way to make HTTP calls. Here is an example GET request:

import requests
response = requests.get('https://api.example.com/data')
print(response.status_code)

Requests handles URLs, parameters, headers, cookies and SSL verification for you. It uses connection pooling and supports features like timeouts and proxies. The response contains parsed JSON automatically. Requests is perfect for basic HTTP needs and has become very popular thanks to its simplicity.

pycurl: Power and Flexibility

pycurl provides a wrapper around the libcurl C library. It gives you lower-level access and exposes more advanced configuration options. pycurl supports synchronous and asynchronous requests, connection pooling, custom certs/keys, and progress monitoring.

Here is an example SSL POST request with pycurl:

import pycurl

c = pycurl.Curl()
c.setopt(c.URL, 'https://api.example.com/data') 
c.setopt(c.POST, 1)
# set other options like headers, SSL..

c.perform()
http_code = c.getinfo(c.HTTP_CODE)  

So pycurl is useful for complex applications that require more control over requests. The learning curve is steeper than requests though.

Conclusion

Requests is perfect for most Python HTTP tasks given its simplicity and popularity. Pycurl is an option if you need lower-level access, already use libcurl in other languages, or have unique HTTP needs.

Browse by tags:

Browse by language:

Tired of getting blocked while scraping the web?

ProxiesAPI handles headless browsers and rotates proxies for you.
Get access to 1,000 free API credits, no credit card required!