How to make a POST request with cURL

In this tutorial, we are going to focus on how we can use the cURL utility to perform a POST request to a given server.

How to make a POST request with cURL

Nearly all of us have heard of or even used cURL. cURL is a powerful and incredibly useful command-line utility for tranferring data over network using various protocols.

One of the most common protocols to interact with is the HTTP/HTTPS protocol. This involves us making requests such as GET, POST, DELETE, PUT, etc.

The HTTP POST request is a type of request method that allows us to send data to a server. A POST request is responsible for a wide variety of actions such as submitting forms, payment authorization, and more.

You can learn more about the POST request below:

POST - HTTP | MDN
The HTTP POST method sends data to the server. The type of the body of the request is indicated by the Content-Type header.

This is a fundamental part if you want to interact with APIs or automating some network tasks using cURL.

Command Syntax

The following shows the command syntax of sending a POST request using cURL.

curl -X POST [options] [URL]

In this case, the -X option allows us to specify the type of request we wish to perform. In this case, we want to perform a HTTP POST request.

An exampe POST request that contains data is as shown:

curl -X POST https://reqbin.com/echo/post/json 
   -H "Content-Type: application/json"
   -d '{"server: "1", "auth": "true"}'

Pay attention to the command above. We start with the cURL command followed by the following options:

  • -X - this option tells cURL that we want to perform an HTTP POST request.
  • -d - this parameter allows us to provide the associated data in the body of the HTTP request.
  • -H - this specifies the headers for the request. In our case, we specify the content type that we wish to send which is json data, expressed as application/json.

You can use the the long-form versions of the above parameters. For example, you can replace the -X with --request and -H with --headers.

Examples

Let us explore various examples on how to perform various types of POST requests when working in cURL.

Example 1 - Post Request Body

The first exampe is post data on the body of a request message using cURL. As you saw in the first example, we specify the data using the -d option as shown:

curl -X POST https://example.com/api/v2/hi
		 -H "Content-Type: application/json"
		 -d '{"name": "csalem", "url": "geekbits.io"}'

NOTE: To post JSON data using cURL, we need to set the Content-Type to application/json and use the -d parameter to pass JSON to cURL

Example 2 - Post File.

cURL does allow us to post a file using the combination of the -d and the -F parameters. We then need to start the data using the @symbol.

By default, cURL will infer the content type from the file extension.

curl -d @schema.json https://example.com/api/v2/db

This will use the data from the file specified in the command above.

Example 3 - Post XML with cURL.

We can also post XML data to the server using the -d option and specifying the content type as application/xml.

An example is as shown:

curl -X POST https://example.com/api/v2/xml
   -H "Content-Type: application/xml"
   -d "<Data><UserID>1</UserID><Username>geekbits</Username></Data>"

Example 4 - Sending Auth Creds

If you are dealign with basic authentication endpoint, you can pass the username and password credentials using the --user option as shown:

curl -X POST https://example.com/api/v2/dc
   --user "admin:password"

cURL will automatically encrypt the specified user credentails into base63 encoded string before passing the into the server by using the Authorization: Basic [token] header.

Other POST Options

The following are other options and parameters you can use when sending POST requests using cURL.

-X	--requests	<method>	Specify request method
-b	--cookie	<data|filename>	Specify where to write cookies
-c	--cookie-jar	<filename>	Specify cookie storage file
-d	--data	<data>	Send data in POST request
-f	--fail		Fail fast on server errors
-F	--form	<name=content>	Form data for POST
-H	--header	<header/@file>	Include header in request
-i	--include	Include HTTP headers
-l	--head		Fetch headers only
-k	--insecure		Skip secure connection verification
-L	--location		Force redirect follow
-o	--output	<file>	Write output to file
-O	--remote-name		Write output to local file named like remote file
-s	--silent		Do not show progress or errors
-v	--verbose		Make output verbose
-w	--write-out	<format>	Display information on stdout after transfer

:)

Conclusion

In this tutorial, we learned the fundamentals of working with and sending POST requests using cURL and the various options we can use to customize the behavior of cURL.

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