Requests vs urllib vs httpx vs aiohttp

Feb 3, 2024 ยท 2 min read

Making HTTP requests is a common task in Python programming. There are several popular libraries that make this easy, each with their own strengths. This article compares four options: Requests, urllib, httpx and aiohttp.

The most popular and easiest to use is Requests. Here is example usage:

import requests

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

Requests handles a lot of complexity behind the scenes, like managing connections, retries, timeouts, etc. It has a simple API focused on common use cases. Requests is synchronous, so each request blocks the next line from executing until it completes.

The urllib module is part of Python's standard library. It provides building blocks for working with URLs and making requests:

from urllib import request, parse

url = 'https://api.example.com/data?key=value'
req = request.Request(url) 
resp = request.urlopen(req)
print(resp.status)
print(resp.read())

Urllib is lower-level but useful for advanced or unusual HTTP scenarios. Being in the standard library, urllib will always be available.

httpx is a next-generation HTTP client that builds on Requests. It adds:

  • Asynchronous support with httpx.AsyncClient
  • HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 support
  • WebSocket support
  • Connection pooling
  • Proxies, timeouts and other advanced options
  • aiohttp is a popular asynchronous HTTP client/server framework designed for asyncio:

    import aiohttp
    
    async with aiohttp.ClientSession() as session:
        async with session.get('https://api.example.com/data') as resp:
            print(resp.status)
            print(await resp.json())

    To summarize, Requests is the easiest way to make simple HTTP requests in Python. Urllib provides lower-level building blocks. Httpx builds on Requests adding advanced features. Aiohttp is specifically for asyncio-based asynchronous code. The "best" option depends on your specific needs.

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