good robots do what they're told

HTTP Should be Simple

Apache’s HTTP client libraries (version 4.x has a very different API than 3.x) are fairly involved to configure and require a lot of boilerplate code. Making a simple HTTP GET request usually ends up with way too many lines of code. Working with HTTP should be simple, so I’ve been working on a library offering a straight forward API with sensible defaults. Typically, you’ll make HTTP requests with just one line of code.

HttpResponse response = anApacheClient().get(new URL(""));


The library, simple-http, provides an implementation agnostic API. It ships with support for Apache’s HTTP client 4.x but can be extended to use any underlying HTTP client library without changes to the API. It’s essentially a builder ontop of the Apache library. You configure your client in a builder style then hit the HTTP verbs. For example.

HttpResponse response = anApacheClient()
    .with(proxy(new URL("")))
    .get(new URL(""),
            header("Accept", "text/html")

It’s supposed to be so simple, it’s self explanatory. If it’s not, let me know. The starting point is just HttpClients.anApacheClient().

Separation of Concerns

First and foremost, simple-http helps with separation of concern. It provides a basic HttpClient interface which you can easily mock in your code to assert your components send messages but not concern yourself with raw HTTP. It provides the anti-corruption layer between your application and HTTP. You depend on the simple-http interfaces and not Apache’s implementations. In that way, your application’s interactions with HTTP are in terms of the HTTP verbs and not Apache’s technical details.


Secondarily, the library provides a fluent, straight-forward interface to instantiate and use a HTTP client. If you need special configuration, that’s fine but as it comes sensible defaults, for the most part all you’ll need to do is new it up. For example, to create a HTTP client which trusts self signed certificates, do the following.

HttpClient http = anApacheClient().withTrustingSsl();

Regular SSL authentication is straight forward too, just add a username and password to your client.

HttpClient http = anApacheClient().with("bobby brown", "secret");

Helping you Test

As simple-http ships with a bunch of Matchers, it’s easy to make assertions or set expectations. For a simple case, compare the following.

Using Apache directly, you might write something like this.

assertThat(apacheResponse.getStatusLine().getStatusCode(), is(200));

which, when it fails presents you with the following.

Expected: is <200>
     got: <404>

With simple-http, you write.

assertThat(response, has(status(200)));

which is much more helpful when it fails, showing the response’s status code, message, content and headers.

Expected: a HttpMessage with status code <200>
     got: <DefaultHttpResponse{statusCode=404, statusMessage='Not Found', content='{ "message", "not found" }', headers='SimpleHeaders{headers=[SimpleHeader{name='Content-Type', value='application/json'}]}'}>

Of course, you can enrich the assertions, for example.

assertThat(response, allOf(has(status(200)), has(headerWithValue("Content-Type", containsString("json")))));

or assert against the message body, for example.

assertThat(response, has(content(not(containsString("\"error\"")))));

Or use them in an expectation, for example using JMock below, we expect a HTTP GET to the URL when we call the method inventoryCount().

public void anExample() throws MalformedURLException {
    final HttpClient http = context.mock(HttpClient.class);
    context.checking(new Expectations() {{
        oneOf(http).get(with(new URL("")), with(headers(header("Accept", "application/json")))); will(returnValue(...));
    new StockRoom(http).inventoryCount();

Or here where we expect a HTTP POST to submit a URL form encoded body to add some stock. In the example, the form parameter we’re expecting should look like stock=%7Bsome%3A+json+message%7D. Notice how bad.robot.repo avoids this complexity.

public void anotherExample() throws Exception {
  checking(new Expectations() {{
      oneOf(http).post(with(new URL("")), with(post(content(params("stock", "{some: json message}").asString()))));
  new StockRoom(http).addStock(...);


You can download from the bad.robot.repo Maven repository or get the source from Github.

        <name>bad.robot repository for robotooling</name>


Enjoy and let me know how you get on.

Over to you...