Curl vs. PowerShell: Comparing Use Cases

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Curl is a popular open source graph database software. PowerShell, on the other hand, is Microsoft’s command-line shell and scripting language for managing Windows systems. Both have their own strengths but also limitations which has caused some people to ask: Which one should I use?

The “curl powershell” is a command-line tool that allows users to transfer files using the HTTP and HTTPS protocols. It can also be used for various other tasks such as downloading, uploading, checking connectivity, testing web pages, and more.

Curl vs. PowerShell: Comparing Use Cases

Curl is a flexible utility that lets you make HTTP calls in a variety of contexts. It’s been there for a long time in the Linux world, but it’s just lately appeared in Windows 10. However, PowerShell, a scripting language, can do comparable duties to curl. Is PowerShell a viable curl replacement? What are the distinctions? Let’s see what we can find out!

Let’s compare PowerShell and curl in this essay to see which one performs better in different situations. We’ll also compare each in a variety of scenarios so you can make the best option for your unique circumstance.

Myth Busting: PowerShell Cmdlets <> Curl

Before we get into the meat of this essay, let’s dispel a common misconception that PowerShell’s Invoke-WebRequest and Invoke-RestMethod cmdlets are curl “replacements.” This is absolutely not the case. It’s evident from the help information for these commands that they each have unique capabilities and applications.

Take a peek at the curl docs for more information:

curl is a program that allows you to send and receive data from or to a server using one of the supported protocols (DICT, FILE, FTP, FTPS, GOPHER, HTTP, HTTPS, IMAP, IMAPS, LDAP, LDAPS, POP3, POP3S, RTMP, RTSP, SCP, SFTP, SMB, SMBS, SMTP, SMTPS, TELNET and TFTP).

The command is intended to function without the need for human intervention. Proxy support, user authentication, FTP upload, HTTP post, SSL connections, cookies, file transfer resumption, Metalink, and other features are all available in Curl.

Compare that to the documentation for the Invoke-WebRequest and Invoke-RestMethod cmdlets.

“The Invoke-WebRequest cmdlet is used to make HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, and FILE requests to a web page or online service.” It parses the answer and delivers a list of forms, links, pictures, and other HTML components.”

“The Invoke-RestMethod cmdlet conducts HTTP and HTTPS calls to REST web services that return fully structured data.” The data type determines how PowerShell prepares the answer. PowerShell retrieves the Item or Entry XML nodes for an RSS or ATOM feed. PowerShell transforms or deserializes material from JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) or XML into objects.”

Curl strives to be the primary option for transmitting data from or to a server via a variety of protocols, according to how each utility is specified.

In contrast, the PowerShell cmdlets Invoke-WebRequest and Invoke-RestMethod concentrate on more typical server connections. Through PowerShell’s usage of objects, these PowerShell cmdlets offer provide a rich experience for interacting with returned data.

PowerShell vs. Bash: Long Parameters

Curl depends on the command shell it’s run from since it’s not a scripting language like PowerShell. Bash is the command shell of choice most of the time.

Both PowerShell cmdlets and curl may need distinct arguments that span well beyond the width of a terminal. Each shell programming language has its own method for making the syntax easy to comprehend.

Take, for example, the code below. This example shows how to use a tiny amount of data to send an HTTP POST verb to a URL. This code could be written on a single line, but it would quickly wrap around the screen and require scrolling. To fix this, you may use backslashes in Bash to move the command to a new line.

—request POST —data ‘”title”:”test post”,”user”:2’ curl —header “Content-Type: application/json” https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/posts

Use either cmdlet to compare the line-wrapping approach with PowerShell. You may use splatting to arrange many requests that execute the same action.

$param = @{ Uri = “<https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/posts>” Method = “Post” Body = ‘{“title”:”test post”,”user”:2}’ ContentType = “application/json” } Invoke-RestMethod @param

As demonstrated below, you may mix and match the splatted and named arguments.

$main = @{ Uri = “<https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/posts>” ContentType = “application/json” } $param = @{ Method = “Post” } Invoke-RestMethod @main @param -Body ‘{“title”:”test post”,”user”:2}’

Working with REST APIs is a great way to learn new things.

Many products have REST APIs as a standard feature. Because both curl and the PowerShell cmdlets are often used to query REST APIs, let’s compare and contrast how these two tools handle them.

It’s worth noting that the tasks you’ll be learning will also function with regular HTTP URIs. Any HTTP endpoint will function with curl and the PowerShell cmdlets.

Using a REST API to Get Data

Getting a response from a REST API is the simplest job to illustrate first. As illustrated below, curl and the PowerShell cmdlets may perform this with a single URI argument. As you can see in the example below, each delivers the body of the JSON answer right away.

> curl <https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/todos/1>

Response in JSONResponse in JSON

PS> Invoke-WebRequest ‘<https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/todos/1>’ PS> Invoke-RestMethod ‘<https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/todos/1>’

Invoke-WebRequestInvoke-WebRequest

Unlike Invoke-WebRequest, the Invoke-RestMethod cmdlet translates return data from JSON to PowerShell objects automatically. However, you may use the ConvertFrom-Json cmdlet to achieve the same thing with Invoke-WebRequest, as seen below.

(Invoke-WebRequest ‘<https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/todos/1>’).Content | ConvertFrom-Json

Using a REST API to Submit Data

The POST verb may be used by Curl and PowerShell cmdlets to send data to a URI. When sending data through POST, you’ll almost always include a body, which both tools can handle.

You may define the verb using the —request option for curl and the Method parameter for Invoke-RestMethod as shown below. Curl’s —data option and Invoke-Body RestMethod’s parameter will be used for the body.

curl <https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/posts> –request POST –data “title=test post&user=2″ Invoke-RestMethod <https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/posts> -Method Post -Body @{title=”test post”;user=2}

Curl and Invoke-RestMethod send POST requests with the content type application/x-www-form-urlencoded by default.

If the API only supports a single content type, you’ll have to provide one explicitly through a parameter. Curl utilizes the more general header argument, but the ContentType option of the Invoke-RestMethod cmdlet enables you to define the content type independently.

## Invoke-RestMethod -ContentType application/json ## Curl —header “Content-Type: application/json”

Instead of —header, you may use curl’s shorter -H parameter.

You saw how to provide the content-type header to a URI Using Curl as a Tool and PowerShell in the last example. If you like, you may add additional at the same time.

To transmit multiple headers with curl, just add another —header or -H command, specifying the key and value of the header you want to send, as shown below.

“Content-Type: application/json” curl -H -H “Application/json” “Accept: application/json” ‘”title”:”test post”,”user”:2’ —request POST -d https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/posts

As illustrated below, you can perform the same thing via PowerShell. You may transmit as many headers as you like by giving a hashtable containing key/value pairs for headers to the Headers argument.

$param = @{ Uri = “<https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/posts>” Body = @{ title = “Test” } Method = “Post” } Invoke-RestMethod @param -Headers @{ Accept = “application/json” }

Getting a Glimpse into the HTTP Response

Let’s extract some helpful information from basic data now that you’ve learned how to acquire it.

The ability to interpret the response natively with PowerShell vs. curl is a significant benefit. Because curl is a utility rather than a programming language, you’ll need to interpret the answer using another tool. Many users parse curl’s answer using Python or Perl, or with a tool called jq, to level the playing field. Jq is a command-line tool for parsing JSON data.

Using the preceding example, you could want to extract simply the title from the answer to show parsing. The —request argument in curl is used in the example below to specifically define the GET verb (curl defaults all requests to GET). The quiet -s argument is also used in this case to eliminate certain on-screen statistics.

curl —request GET -s | jq.title https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/todos/1

Using Curl as a ToolUsing Curl as a Tool

Let’s skip Invoke-WebRequest in this example since you learnt that the key difference between the Invoke-WebRequest and the Invoke-RestMethod cmdlets is Invoke-innate RestMethod’s ability to analyze the response.

As you can see in the example below, specifically specifying the GET method has no effect. It’s also worth noting that the command and argument are separated by parentheses. This enables you to use dot notation to refer to the object property Title.

(Invoke-RestMethod -Method Get https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/todos/1). Title

Querying a web page using Invoke-RestMethodQuerying a web page using Invoke-RestMethod

Taking a screenshot of a webpage

When you grab data from a website, you’ll almost certainly want to conduct some post-processing. In Bash, this may imply using an HTML parser like hxselect from the html-xml-utils package. The Invoke-WebRequest cmdlet in PowerShell, on the other hand, can interpret a lot of what you require automatically.

To demonstrate, let’s extract all HTML <a> references from www.google.com.

The html-xml-utils package must be installed in Bash. To use hxselect to query and parse a website, you must first convert the web response to xhtml (-x) format. To filter and choose the output, you’ll need to utilize a text processing program like Grep.

Grep’s Regex matching (-P) and only-matched (-o) options are used in the sample command below to break the results into their own lines:

curl https://www.google.com -s | hxnormalize -x | hxselect “a” | grep -Po ‘(?<=href=”https://adamtheautomator.com/powershell-curl/)[^”]+(?=”)’

Curl is used to scrape a web page.Curl is used to scrape a web page.

In PowerShell, you’ll only need to specify that you want the href property from the links in these <a> tags.

(www.google.com) Invoke-WebRequest links.href

Taking a screenshot of a webpage with Invoke-WebRequestTaking a screenshot of a webpage with Invoke-WebRequest

Filling out a Form

Forms are used for many things, such as login, search, uploads, etc. While PowerShell can easily select forms from a webpage and provide a hashtable to fill out, Using Curl as a Tool + Bash requires more work.

You must first assemble a form, fill it out, and then submit it in PowerShell. The example below uses $Form.fields to display all of the form’s accessible fields. The answer is then stored in $Result, and you may analyze the Google results using $Result.links.

(Invoke-WebRequest www.google.com).forms $Form = (Invoke-WebRequest www.google.com).forms [0] $Form.fields “Best PowerShell cmdlets” [‘q’] = “Best PowerShell cmdlets” Invoke-WebRequest -Uri $Result “Google (www.google.com) is a search engine that allows you to find information $($Form.Action)” -Body $Form.Fields

Using Curl as a Tool, you have to work to find the fields and then specify them yourself. The output of the first command shows me that there is a q form field I can use for search queries. I then specify data to be filled for that field when submitting the request:

curl curl -F q=https://www.google.com -s | hxnormalize -x | hxselect “form” | hxselect “input” | grep -Po “” curl -F q=https://www.google.com -s | hxnormalize -x | hxselect “form” | hxselect “input” | gre “Curl is really talented in several areas.” https://www.google.com

Using Curl as a Tool to submit a formUsing Curl as a Tool to submit a form

Cookies / Using a Web Session

You’ll want your cookies stored across sessions if you need to save cookies between tasks, such as a website login to access private sites.

Curl requires you to save these cookies in a “cookie jar,” which you can then use as your input “cookies” once signed in. You’ll have to put in some effort to locate the actual form submission data you want.

Using Curl as a Tool, you can specify a username and password to authenticate and a place for the curl “cookie jar”. Then, using the cookie obtained from that call, specify the “cookie jar” in the subsequent call as shown below.

curl –user <username>:<password> –cookie-jar ./filename <https://someSite.com> curn –cookie ./filename <https://someSite.com/important>

Using the SessionVariable option of the Invoke-WebRequest cmdlet, PowerShell can now store and utilize cookies/sessions.

The cookie returned will be stored in the SessionVariable. After that, you may transmit the cookie to future requests using the WebSession argument. Filling out a form using the same cookie returned when the form was queried earlier is shown here.

Invoke-WebRequest -Uri $result -SessionVariable https://someSite.com ss $result = $LoginForm Forms[0] $LoginForm. [“user”] = “username” Fields[“user”] = “username” $LoginForm. “password” in Fields[“password”] = “password” in Fields[“password”] = “password” in Invoke-WebRequest -Uri $result -WebSession $LoginForm.Action $ss -Method Post $ss -Method Post $ss -Meth

Summary

Web cmdlets in PowerShell Web querying and processing cmdlets Invoke-WebRequest and Invoke-RestMethod are helpful. They have some similarities to curl, but as you can see, their approaches are quite different.

The cmdlets were created with PowerShell in mind since they are part of the PowerShell scripting language. Curl must depend on other languages and technologies to execute the same job, which is where the PowerShell method varies from curl.

Check out Curl2PS, a helpful PowerShell module that converts various curl instructions to PowerShell format.

The “curl to powershell converter” is a command-line tool that allows users to convert curl commands into PowerShell. This can be useful for people who are switching from one scripting language to another or just want to learn how the two work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can curl be used in PowerShell?

A: Curl is not a command in PowerShell.

Is there a curl equivalent in Windows?

A: There is no curl equivalent in Windows, unfortunately.

Can PowerShell make API calls?

A: PowerShell is not a command-line tool. There are many ways to make API calls using it, but theres no direct way of doing so indirectly like you would do with cmdlet commands or scripts

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