Introduction to Apache HttpClient

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Apache HttpClient is a popular open-source library for sending HTTP requests and receiving HTTP responses in Java. It provides a rich set of features for building HTTP-based client applications, including support for authentication, connection pooling, request and response interception, and more.

One of the key benefits of Apache HttpClient is its flexibility and configurability. You can customize almost every aspect of the HTTP request and response handling process, from setting headers and request parameters to handling redirects and handling errors.

How to Use Apache HttpClient

  • Firstly, Create an instance of HttpClient class.
    (The HttpClient uses a HttpUriRequest to send and receive data.)
  • Create an instance of HttpRequestBase class (e.g. HttpGet, HttpPost, HttpTrace, HttpDelete, etc.) and set the necessary headers and parameters.
  • Execute the request using HttpClient’s execute() method, and it returns an instance of HttpResponse class.
  • Finally, Extract the response content using HttpResponse’s getEntity() method and process it as necessary.

Here’s an example of using Apache HttpClient to send an HTTP GET request and retrieve the response body:

public static void getFlight() throws Exception {

    HttpClient client = HttpClients.createDefault();

    HttpGet request = new HttpGet("");

    HttpResponse response = client.execute(request);

    HttpEntity entity = response.getEntity();

    String responseBody = EntityUtils.toString(entity);

    int statusCode = response.getStatusLine().getStatusCode();




In this example, we create an HttpClient object using the HttpClients.createDefault() method, which provides a default configuration for sending HTTP requests. We then create an HttpGet object, setting the request URI to, then execute the request using client.execute() and receiving the response as an HttpResponse object. We extract the response status code using response.getStatusLine().getStatusCode() and the response body as a string using EntityUtils.toString(response.getEntity()). Finally, we print the status code and body.


The Apache HttpClient library allows handling HTTP requests. To use this library add a dependency to your Maven or Gradle build file. You can find the latest version here:

Maven Dependency (with the latest version):






Apache HttpClient use-cases:

People widely use the Apache HttpClient library to build HTTP-based client applications in Java. Here are some common use cases for Apache HttpClient:

  1. Consuming RESTful APIs: People frequently use Apache HttpClient to consume RESTful APIs. You can use it to send HTTP requests and receive responses, parse JSON or XML responses, and handle errors and exceptions.
  2. Web scraping: Web scraping refers to the process of extracting data from websites. Users can use Apache HttpClient to make HTTP requests to a website, retrieve the HTML content, and parse the content to extract the relevant data.
  3. Testing HTTP-based services: You can use Apache HttpClient to test HTTP-based services, such as web services or APIs. You can use it to send various types of HTTP requests, including GET, POST, and more, and validate the responses.
  4. Web automation: Apache HttpClient can be used for web automation, such as filling out web forms, clicking buttons, and navigating between pages. You can use it in combination with other libraries like Selenium to build powerful web automation scripts.
  5. Data integration: It can be used for data integration, such as retrieving data from web services or APIs and importing it into a database or other data storage system.
  6. Flexibility: It offers high flexibility and allows you to configure it to work with a wide range of HTTP-based services, including RESTful APIs, web services, and more. You can customize almost every aspect of the HTTP request and response handling process, from setting headers and request parameters to handling redirects and handling errors.
  7. Rich set of features: Provides a rich set of features for building HTTP-based client applications, including support for authentication, connection pooling, request, and response interception, and more. This can help you to build more robust and reliable applications.
  8. Ease of use: While Apache HttpClient provides a lot of powerful features, it is also relatively easy to use. The library provides a simple and intuitive API for sending HTTP requests and receiving HTTP responses.
  9. Performance: Apache HttpClient is designed to be efficient and performant. It provides features like connection pooling and keep-alive connections to minimize the overhead of creating and tearing down HTTP connections.
  10. Community support: Apache HttpClient is an open-source project with a large and active community of developers. This means that you can find plenty of resources and support online, including documentation, tutorials, and community forums.

Overall, HttpClient is a popular choice among Java developers for building HTTP-based client applications due to its flexibility, rich set of features, ease of use, performance, and community support.

Example use-cases of Apache HttpClient

An application can use HttpClient in a variety of use cases to communicate with other servers or APIs over the internet. Here are a few examples:

  1. Fetching data from a REST API: You can use HttpClient to fetch data from a remote server that exposes a RESTful API. For instance, you could use it to display the latest news headlines from a news service or to retrieve user data from a social media platform.
  2. Uploading data to a server: You can also use HttpClient to upload data to a server. For example, you can upload images to a cloud storage service or submit a form on a web application.
  3. Downloading files: You can use HttpClient to download files from a remote server, such as PDFs, images, or other documents.
  4. Integration with third-party services: You can use HttpClient to integrate with third-party services that provide APIs, such as payment gateways, email services, or messaging platforms.
  5. Testing APIs: You can use HttpClient for testing APIs by sending mock requests and verifying the response. This can be useful for testing and debugging APIs before deploying them to production.

In summary, HttpClient is a versatile tool that can be used in many different use cases where an application needs to communicate with other servers or APIs over the internet.

REST API v/s HttpClient

REST API and HttpClient are not directly comparable as they serve different purposes in client-server communication:

  1. REST API is a set of guidelines or principles for designing APIs, while HttpClient is a library or module used for making HTTP requests.
  2. REST API defines a set of rules for creating web services that are scalable, maintainable, and easy to understand. It includes guidelines for resource identification, representation, manipulation, and hypermedia-driven navigation.
  3. HttpClient is a tool for making HTTP requests to servers and retrieving data or resources from them. It handles network communication, serialization/deserialization, and error handling.
  4. Server-side applications typically use REST API to expose data and services to client applications over the web. Client-side applications use HttpClient to consume data and services from remote servers.
  5. REST API is protocol-agnostic, meaning it can be implemented using different protocols like HTTP, FTP, or SMTP. HttpClient, on the other hand, is specifically designed to work with the HTTP protocol.

In summary, REST API and HttpClient serve different purposes in client-server communication. HttpClient is a tool for making HTTP requests to consume those services, while REST API defines guidelines for creating web services. While REST API is protocol-agnostic, HttpClient is specifically designed for the HTTP protocol.

gRPC v/s HttpClient

Both client and server applications use gRPC and HttpClient for communication, but gRPC and HttpClient differ in several ways:

  1. Protocol: HttpClient is based on the HTTP/1.1 or HTTP/2 protocol, while gRPC uses a binary protocol called Protocol Buffers.
  2. Data serialization: HttpClient typically uses JSON or XML for data serialization, while gRPC uses Protocol Buffers, which are more efficient and provide a smaller payload.
  3. Performance: gRPC is generally faster than HttpClient due to its binary protocol and the use of HTTP/2 for multiplexing and server push. It also provides support for streaming, which can be useful for real-time applications.
  4. Language support: HttpClient is available in most programming languages, while gRPC has more limited language support. However, gRPC supports a wider range of programming languages than most binary RPC frameworks.
  5. API style: HttpClient typically uses a RESTful API style, while gRPC uses a remote procedure call (RPC) style. RPC provides a more natural and efficient way to call methods on remote servers.

In summary, HttpClient is a widely used protocol for client-server communication, but gRPC is a binary RPC framework that provides high performance and efficient data serialization. The choice between the two depends on the specific use case and requirements of the application.


In conclusion, we get an Introduction to Apache HttpClient. Stay tuned for the next part related.

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Written by 

Kuldeep is a Software Consultant at Knoldus Software LLP. He has a sound knowledge of various programming languages like C, C++, Java, MySQL, and various frameworks like Apache Kafka and Spring/Springboot. He is passionate about daily and continuous improvement.