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A curl tutorial using GitHub's API

Introduction

An introduction to curl using GitHub's API

The Basics

Makes a basic GET request to the specifed URI

curl https://api.github.com/users/caspyin

Includes HTTP-Header information in the output

curl --include https://api.github.com/users/caspyin

Pass user credential to basic auth to access protected resources like a users starred gists, or private info associated with their profile

curl --user "caspyin:PASSWD" https://api.github.com/gists/starred
curl --user "caspyin:PASSWD" https://api.github.com/users/caspyin

Passing just the username without the colon (:) will cause you to be prompted for your account password. This avoids having your password in your command line history

curl --user "caspyin" https://api.github.com/users/caspyin

POST

Use the --request (-X) flag along with --data (-d) to POST data

curl --user "caspyin" --request POST --data '{"description":"Created via API","public":"true","files":{"file1.txt":{"content":"Demo"}}' https://api.github.com/gists

curl --user "caspyin" -X POST --data '{"description":"Created via API","public":"true","files":{"file1.txt":{"content":"Demo"}}' https://api.github.com/gists

Of course --data implies POST so you don't have to also specify the --request flag

curl --user "caspyin" --data '{"description":"Created via API","public":"true","files":{"file1.txt":{"content":"Demo"}}' https://api.github.com/gists

Here is an example that uses the old GitHub API (v2). You can use multiple --data flags

curl --data "login=caspyin" --data "token=TOKEN" https://github.com/api/v2/json/user/show/caspyin

The post data gets combined into one so you can also just combine them yourself into a single --data flag

curl --data "login=caspyin&token=TOKEN" https://github.com/api/v2/json/user/show/caspyin

You can tell curl to read from a file (@) to POST data

curl --user "caspyin" --data @data.txt https://api.github.com/gists 

Or it can read from STDIN (@-)

curl --user "caspyin" --data @- https://api.github.com/gists
{
  "description":"Test",
  "public":false,
  "files": {
    "file1.txt": {
      "content":"Demo"
    }
  }
}
end with ctrl+d

Headers

Often when POSTing data you'll need to add headers for things like auth tokens or setting the content type. You can set a header using -H.

curl -H "Content-Type: application/json" -H "authToken: 349ab29a-xtab-423b-a5hc-5623bc39b8c8" --data '{}' https://api.example.com/endpoint

Dealing with HTTPS

If an API doens't have an SSL cert but is using HTTPS you can tell curl to ignore the security by using --insecure. Be warned this is a very "insecure" thing to do and is only listed here for "educational purposes".

curl --insecure https://api.example.com/endpoint

For my own reference mostly, here is where I first learned about using --insecure https://github.com/wayneeseguin/rvm/issues/1684

OAuth

The first thing to know is that your API Token (found in https://github.com/settings/admin) is not the same token used by OAuth. They are different tokens and you will need to generate an OAuth token to be authorized.

Follow the API's instructions at http://developer.github.com/v3/oauth/ under the sections "Non-Web Application Flow" and "Create a new authorization" to become authorized.

Note: Use Basic Auth once to create an OAuth2 token http://developer.github.com/v3/oauth/#oauth-authorizations-api

curl https://api.github.com/authorizations \
--user "caspyin" \
--data '{"scopes":["gist"],"note":"Demo"}'

This will prompt you for your GitHub password and return your OAuth token in the response. It will also create a new Authorized application in your account settings https://github.com/settings/applications

Now that you have the OAuth token there are two ways to use the token to make requests that require authentication (replace "OAUTH-TOKEN" with your actual token)

curl https://api.github.com/gists/starred?access_token=OAUTH-TOKEN
curl -H "Authorization: token OAUTH-TOKEN" https://api.github.com/gists/starred

List the authorizations you already have

curl --user "caspyin" https://api.github.com/authorizations

Resources

@jeremyschulman

Thank you for this post. Is it possible to send the gist content as encoded-64? I've got a file with lots of characters that seem to cause json parse issues when I attempt to post the data. I can encode64 the string; just don't know how to tell github that it's encoded ... I just see the encoded string show up in my gist.

I appreciate any help & guidance you can offer!

@caspyin
Owner

@jeremyschulman Not sure. It looks like encoding the string should work (http://stackoverflow.com/q/2122105/1139787). Can you give me an example of what you're trying?

@KrzysztofCiba

Nice. Thanks for the info.

@atif93

I want my followers to stop receiving notifications. For that I read somewhere that the command is
DELETE /followers/:id
and I should be logged in and authenticated with basic auth or OAuth with the user:follow scope.
Can you please tell me how to do this.

@luisibanez

Very nice, clean and clear.

Thanks for sharing !

@caspyin
Owner

Added info on using -H (headers) and the --insecure options

@carlmart

Can you create a new repository? tried the following. , saw one that did create a new repo
curl -u "$carlmart :$ch4yrj685432eecb289484848483736363636363" https://api.github.com/user/repos -d '{"CarlMart":"'$test1'"}

@JaredCowan

@carlmart
You have two easy ways to create a repo via terminal

This first one you just need to put in your username between the single quotes and then the name of the repo you want in-between the double quotes. This will then prompt you to type in your password. P.S. You wont see your password as your type. It's hidden for security.

curl -u 'YOUR-USER-NAME' https://api.github.com/user/repos -d '{"name": "PUT-YOUR-REPO-NAME-HERE"}'

Option two is the best (IMO) Just go to your account and create an authtoken and paste it where it says below. Then just give your repo a name. This will not ask your for a password.

curl -H "Authorization: token PUT-YOUR-AUTH-TOKEN-HERE" https://api.github.com/user/repos -d '{"name": "PUT-YOUR-REPO-NAME-HERE"}'

@jfraboni

Thanks, great info, plain and simple!

@i4h
i4h commented

Thank you for the helpful and clear tutorial!
I have been trying to write a curl request to send an .md-file from my computer to the github markdown api, but i couldn't figure out how to send data (with unescaped quotes) from a file in a named jason variable. I am using httpie now, but that solution bugs me because it is not as available. Could you maybe add this use case?

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