Web debugging proxies are essential tools for developers to view HTTP and HTTPS traffic between their devices and the internet. These tools help developers debug web applications, verify HTTP requests and responses, and identify issues with network connectivity. There are several web debugging proxies available in the market, and in this article, we will compare four of the most popular ones: Wireshark, Charles Proxy, and Fiddler.
Wireshark is a widely used network protocol analyzer that lets you visualize what’s happening on your network at a granular level. It’s the go-to tool for network troubleshooting, analysis, and education worldwide. Wireshark offers features such as live capture, offline analysis, standard protocols decryption, rich VoIP analysis, and network filtering.
Charles Proxy is a cross-platform web debugging proxy that provides developers with a range of features such as SSL Proxying, Bandwidth Throttling, and Request/Response modification. It offers features like SSL Proxying, bandwidth throttling, AJAX debugging, and breakpoint tools for interruption and modification of traffic.
Fiddler is another popular web debugging proxy that runs on Windows. It provides developers with a range of features, such as HTTP/HTTPS traffic capturing, request modification, and performance testing. In addition to these features, Fiddler has a scripting engine called FiddlerScript, which allows for customizing the tool’s behavior. This scripting engine enables developers to create custom rules for modifying HTTP requests and responses. It also supports performance testing, making it a comprehensive solution for developers.
Requestly is an open-source frontend development platform with essential tooling & integrations that helps frontend developers write, test & debug their code 10x faster. It allows developers to intercept, modify, and mock HTTP/HTTPS requests and responses. Besides, it also lets you create mock api endpoints and test them out.
On features wise, all these tools are rich with them.
Wireshark is renowned for its in-depth protocol analysis and live traffic capture. These features make it incredibly useful in understanding network behaviors, identifying bottlenecks, and troubleshooting network problems. However, it doesn’t provide request/response modification capabilities or user-agent switching, which are critical for web development and testing.
Charles Proxy’s standout features include SSL Proxying, bandwidth throttling, and AJAX debugging, which are quite useful when testing website performance under different network conditions. Additionally, its breakpoint tool allows developers to interrupt and modify traffic, providing a means to test different scenarios. However, it lacks features like user-agent switching and URL rewriting.
Fiddler is a robust tool that allows for extensive HTTP(S) traffic logging and web session manipulation. It offers URL rewriting and a breakpoint tool, much like Charles Proxy, which makes it useful for deeply inspecting and manipulating web traffic. However, it doesn’t provide user-agent switching or AJAX debugging, limiting its versatility in certain use cases.
Although thousands of developers around the globe use Wireshark and Charles Proxy, they fail to occupy the top side in the design aspect. Wireshark’s interface is robust and detailed but can be intimidating for beginners. While Charles Proxy has a more approachable interface compared to Wireshark, it might seem cluttered to some users. Fiddler’s UI is information-rich and customizable, yet, it can be a bit overwhelming for beginners.
With a $50/user plan, Charles Proxy is the most expensive among all other tools. Wireshark is an open-source tool, while Fiddler offer both free version (with limited features) and paid versions.
How is Requestly different from these tools?
When it comes to the UI, Requestly takes the lead with its intuitive, sleek design, making it approachable for both beginners and experienced users.
In terms of features, Requestly offers a balance between depth and breadth, allowing users to perform complex tasks without compromising on the versatility of use cases.
- Like Charles Proxy and Fiddler, it offers request/response modification and the Network Inspector tools, which are crucial for manipulating and analyzing web traffic.
- It also supports user-agent switching and URL rwriting, enabling comprehensive client environment testing.
- It includes AJAX debugging, a feature shared only with Charles Proxy, making it useful for diagnosing AJAX-related issues.
In addition to the mentioned features, Requestly also provides advanced capabilities like script injection and creating mock servers to test various API responses and record user web sessions, which aren’t available in the other tools discussed.
On the pricing front, Requestly strikes a balance between affordability and functionality. It is an open-source tool, offering freemium to individual developers and affordable pricing plans for team collaboration. We have also clearly differentiate how Requestly differs from Wireshark, and other web debugging tools like Proxyman, Modheader, and HTTP ToolKit.
Quick comparison of web debugging tools
To summarise, I’ve created a quick comparison table of these tools based on the features.