As a developer, you're no stranger to the challenges of working with APIs. Thankfully, HTTP REST API clients simplify the process by enabling you to send and receive HTTP requests to test and interact with APIs. While Postman has long been the go-to client for many developers, lately, a lot of developers have expressed interest in finding other alternatives. This is because Postman seems a bit complex after the addition of a lot of new features recently.
So now developers have started asking the age-long question again: Which API client to choose?
The endless options out there might leave you in even bigger chaos and decision fatigue. So we thought we’d chip in by writing a post comparing and contrasting four popular HTTP REST API clients – Postman, Hoppscotch, Insomnia, and ThunderClient – based on their pros and cons. By the end of this post, you’ll know which REST API client fits your bill and your use case.
Postman is one of the most popular HTTP REST API clients that has evolved to a complete API lifecycle platform. It has a web version and a desktop client, so you can also directly test your APIs in the browser. In one of our articles, we uncovered Internals of how Postman Web works. Anyways, Irrespective of whether you use the desktop or web Client, Postman allows you to design, test, and document your APIs and has a user-friendly interface that allows you to easily create and save requests, organize them into collections, and share them with your team.
Postman also supports workspaces so teams can organize and collaborate on APIs and provides default support for governance rules and API security. Additionally, it has a large community of users who create and share groups of API requests along with extensive documentation.
Its pricing can be quite expensive. While it does have a free version, the features in the free tier are limited. It has three paid plans: Basic ($12/user/month), Professional ($29/user/month), and Enterprise ($99/user/month). With each plan, you get more features such as custom domains, collection recovery, integrations, reporting, and analytics, etc.
Hoppscotch is a relatively new HTTP REST API client that has gained popularity among developers. It is completely free and open-source and has a simple and minimalistic interface that focuses on Hoppscotch functionality over design. It’s lightweight and only has a web version that you can access directly from your browser.
It also provides some level of organization for your APIs via collections and also provides a proxy server out of the box to access browser-blocked requests.
It provides support for WebSockets, MQTT, SSE connections, and GraphQL. However, being a new player in the game, it has limited documentation, integrations, features, and community support.
Insomnia is a powerful HTTP REST API client with a CLI version that can be integrated with CI/CD pipelines for deployment.
It has a modern and intuitive interface that makes it easy to create and manage API requests and a feature called "Workspaces" that allows you to organize your requests by the projects. It also provides multi-protocol support for gRPC, SOAP, GraphQL, and more and provides auto code generation for various languages and frameworks for building APIs. This can be extremely helpful when developing APIs, especially for new developers who’re still trying to get the hang of writing code in a specific language or framework.
Its pricing is based on the number of projects you can use with Insomnia. There is a free tier for one project, and if you want to use multiple projects, you can opt for any of the three pricing plans.
The Individual plan costs $5/user/month, the team plan costs $12/user/month, and the enterprise plan costs $25/user/month. Much like Postman, it also has a steep learning curve because of the extensive list of features it offers. However, unlike Postman, it has limited community support and is also relatively cheaper than Postman.
ThunderClient is a completely free VS Code plugin to test HTTP requests. It was built for developers who used VS Code as their default editor and didn’t want to leave their editor for any type of API testing and development. It has a user-friendly interface, provides support for multiple development environments, and also allows you to organize your requests into collections.
Besides the VS Code extension, It also has a CLI version. However, as compared to Postman and Insomnia, it’s a relatively new tool with limited functionality and small community support. It also lacks collaborative features and extensive documentation.
So far, we have seen that each tool has its own strengths and weaknesses in terms of the user interface, features, pricing, ease of use, and integrations. Let’s put it all together to generate a holistic comparison between the four based on the above-mentioned factors.
User Interface & Ease of Use
Postman and Insomnia stand out in terms of the user interface, with a modern and intuitive design. Both tools also have a lot of features that may come across as overwhelming for developers and the teams that are only interested in simple API testing. Overall, all of this adds to the learning curve of the tool.
On the other hand, Hoppscotch and ThunderClient have more minimalistic designs. A simple and minimal design makes a tool easier to use. Moreover, being lightweight and having limited features make these tools easier to use. Hence, even though Postman and Insomnia appear to stand out at first glance because of their pixel-perfect designs, Hopscotch and ThunderClient steal the show because of their intuitive and easy-to-use design.
In terms of features, each tool has its own benefits for different use cases. For instance, with Postman, you get a ton of features that comes in handy for enterprise and large teams. Most tools provide multi-protocol support, but Insomnia’s auto-code generation is definitely a game changer for rapid API development. Since Hopscotch and ThunderClient are lightweight and are only built for limited use cases, they don’t offer an exhaustive list of features like Postman and Insomnia. Hence when it comes to features, Postman and Insomnia clearly stand out.
Documentation & Community Support
Postman, hands down, have the best documentation and community support as compared to others because of its popularity. This is highly beneficial in complex use cases where you need help from other developers or are stuck somewhere in your own API development workflow.
Pricing & Integrations
All offer free versions of their tools, with Postman and Insomnia having pricing plans that offer more features and collaboration. Insomnia is also cheaper than Postman while still offering most of the features that Postman does in its priced plans.
Postman is known for its extensive list of integrations with other tools like Jira, Slack, and GitHub, which can streamline your workflow. Insomnia also offers integrations with popular tools like Git and AWS. Hoppscotch and ThunderClient have fewer integrations than Postman and Insomnia, but they still offer some useful ones, like OAuth 2.0 authentication and support for GraphQL APIs. Postman also recently announced support for WebSockets, GRPC, and graphQL.
So which API client should I use?
Let’s sum up which REST API client fits your use case best. For beginners or those who want open source, an easy-to-use interface, Hopscotch is a terrific choice. You can start using it within minutes, right from your browser.
If you want a free tool with limited features that you can use directly within VS Code, ThunderClient is the best choice. However, if you’ve used Postman before and the VS Code extension is a deal-breaker for you, Postman has also announced a VS Code plugin that you can avail of for early access.
If collaboration is quintessential for your team and you prefer a well-organized API testing/development with tons of features, opt for either Postman or Insomnia. Further, you can can choose Insomnia over Postman if you wish to opt for a cheaper tool. However, if the price difference isn’t a factor for you, you can choose Postman over Insomnia for the great community support.
So what’s it going to be? Let us know your favourite API testing tool and why.