The 9 best (free) alternatives to Postman

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Postman has been a market leader in API tooling for nearly a decade, offering users an attractive bundle of essential API development tasks like design, testing, and documentation in one tool. However, in 2021 the company made significant changes to its pricing model, including doing away with unlimited user licenses and charging teams a monthly fee for each user instead.

These changes have driven many users away from the platform. At the same time, several great alternatives worth exploring have cropped up in the market.

The API tooling ecosystem is brimming with feature-rich apps to help with day-to-day chores like testing and design, and best of all, these tools are often free or open source. In this article, we’ll look at the nine best free alternatives to Postman.

CLI API clients

Let’s start with command line interface (CLI) clients. They run in the command line and can easily integrate with other tools, making easy work out of automation and CI/CD integration.

cURL

cURL is the most widely used Linux CLI API client. It comes preinstalled on all major Linux distributions and even macOS; it’s also free and open source.

It’s a battle-tested tool that has displayed good performance characteristics over the years, and it can handle running huge API test suites.

cURL’s main downsides are its age and cumbersome interface. But since it’s a de facto standard Linux software, it remains popular, with countless guides and tutorials offered online (there are over 40,000 questions with the cURL tag just on Stack Overflow).

HTTPie

HTTPie is a more up-to-date alternative to cURL. It’s open source and free as in free beer, but it doesn’t come preinstalled on modern operating systems. HTTPie aims to provide a more user-friendly interface than cURL’s clunky one. While there aren’t many online guides, the client is significantly easier to use.

HTTPie has a major drawback: its often subpar performance can hinder executing hundreds of automated tests.

Curlie

Curlie tries to hit the sweet spot between cURL and HTTPie. It’s an HTTPie wrapper around cURL—it can match cURL’s performance and feature parity while maintaining HTTPie’s ease of use.

Curlie is open source and free to use.

GUI API clients

The next category is API clients that come with a graphical user interface. These clients usually deliver a better user experience than CLI tools, but—depending on their implementation—it might be harder to integrate them into a CI/CD pipeline.

Hoppscotch

Formerly known as Postwoman, Hoppscotch is a web-based API client. Open it in your browser and start sending requests—no installation is required.

As its previous name suggests, it set out to be a direct competitor to Postman. While it isn’t feature complete in that regard, Hoppscotch does come with impressive functionality. REST, WebSockets, and GraphQL are supported. It also lets you save your request definitions in collections and supports environments.

It’s open source and free to use.

Insomnia

Insomnia, created and maintained by API gateway company Kong, is another GUI client alternative to Postman. It understands OpenAPI/Swagger definitions, allows test automation, and supports different environments.

Insomnia is probably the most popular alternative desktop client to Postman. It’s feature-rich, its developer is a large, established company—and best of all, it’s also open source and free.

httpiness

httpiness is a minimalist desktop client that focuses on developer needs without overburdening the UI with too many features. It’s not open source, but it is free to use.

It can also import Postman collections, which makes switching to httpiness relatively easy.

Its main liability is that it’s new. httpiness was created in early 2022, and by a small team, which makes it more likely they could abandon the project at any time This, coupled with its closed-source nature, makes httpiness a riskier choice.

IDE extension API clients

Alongside developer-focused CLI clients, there is another category: IDE extension API clients. These clients are tightly integrated with popular IDEs, and they allow usage without a need to leave your favorite dev tool.

Thunder Client

Thunder Client is the most feature-rich Postman alternative integrating with VSCode. It comes with collections and environments and even offers a GUI for test automation. Clicking together your tests can improve productivity, even for developers.

Thunder Client isn’t open source, but it can be used free of charge and comes with direct support from the creators.

friflo POST

friflo POST is a minimalist extension for VSCode. It lets you send requests directly from JSON files via the CodeLense menu. The main focus of friflo POST is allowing developers to organize requests and responses as files inside their projects to minimize context switching.

It’s free and open source.

restclient.el

restclient.el is an Emacs extension that shares some similarities with friflo POST. It allows you to open a file and send its contents directly to an API of your choice, to use the file system to manage all requests, and without having to open another tool to test your API changes.

restclient.el is a free, open-source tool.

Summary

This article covers the nine most popular alternatives to Postman. Most of these are both free and open-source products, each catering to a different workflow.

If the goal is flexibility and using the same tool for development and your CI/CD pipeline, your best bet is one of the above CLI tools. In 2022, cURL is still going strong, although HTTPie, a major competitor, is easier to use.

For a GUI that lets you create requests without writing any code or remembering CLI parameters, there are several good options. Hoppscotch doesn’t require installation, and in an era of cloud IDEs it can be the right tool for developing on a Chromebook or iPad. Insomnia is probably the most complete desktop alternative available for all platforms.

Lastly, IDE extensions round out the list. There are many such options for VSCode—some richer in features than others. Out of all IDE extension–based clients, Thunder Client is probably the closest alternative to Postman.

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