If you are developing a set of APIs, chances are you already know Postman — an API Client for API development. Generally, one would use an API client to test APIs in terms of functionality, performance, security, reliability, and the correctness of the responses.
While Postman is the de facto standard for API testing and development, I would like to draw your attention to a fast and easy-to-use alternative to Postman — Insomnia REST Client.
The goal of this article is to share with you some of the handy tips and tricks that you can use with Insomnia, especially while developing GraphQL APIs, though it works great with REST too.
Why not Postman?
Lack of support for schema import via URL and autocomplete
With the introspection system, GraphQL can provide a way for clients to discover the resources that are available in a GraphQL schema which then allows features like self-documentation and autocompletion to be used by the users.
Postman as of the date of writing this article does not directly support importing GraphQL schemas via URL directly (issue). As a result, to use autocomplete on Postman, one would need to import your schema file manually to Postman every time there are new changes made to your schema which can be very cumbersome.
Here are some useful tips when using Insomnia.
Like Postman, we could easily set environment variables in Insomnia and use them later on when making our requests.
For instance, we can configure our API’s
BASE_URL according to our environment such as
Production and switch to a different environment with ease.
Do note that the environment is to be filled in JSON format.
To reference any environment variable, simply press
Control/Cmd + Space on your keyboard.
In case the autocomplete does not render, simply use
Insomnia provides the ability to extract values from the responses from other requests (source).
Imagine if we want to run the
createArticle mutation to create a new article, the server would require us to be authorized first.
In other words, an access token of some sort would be required in the request header of the
Without chaining requests, we have to:
a. Send a
tokenAuth mutation to obtain the
b. Copy the value of
data.tokenAuth.token from our response.
c. Paste the
eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiI... in the authorization header of the
createArticle request and hit ‘Send’.
d. Repeat Steps 1 — 3 every time the token expires.
Steps with chaining requests
tokenAuth mutation once like above
b. Go to
createArticle, under the “Bearer” option, select “Bearer Token”
c. At “TOKEN”, hit
Control/Cmd + Space, select “Response → Body Attribute”
d. At “Edit Tag”, under “Request”, select the request that you have set up in "Step a" (i.e. POST
e. Under “Filter”, filter your response by JSONPath i.e.
f. Lastly, you may configure the “Trigger Behaviour” accordingly and hit ‘Send’ at your
The idea here is that instead of having to copy the value of
token manually every time from the response to
createArticle mutation, we would only perform Steps a — f once.
One of my favorite reasons for using Insomnia is that it supports numerous plugins that can be used to extend the functionality of Insomnia.
To install any plugin, simply hit
Control/Cmd + , key on your keyboard, go to "Plugin", and type in the
npm-package-name of the plugin that you want to install on Insomnia.
You may find a list of available plugins here.
Faker Plugin (insomnia-plugin-faker)
insomnia-plugin-faker allows us to generate Faker data right within the Insomnia itself which can be super handy.
As an example, under query variables for your
createArticle mutation, simply hit Control/Cmd + Space and type faker so that the autocomplete can render the type of Faker data you want to generate. Simple as that!
Gist Sync Plugin (insomnia-plugin-gist-sync)
Another amazing plugin that I use a lot personally before using the paid version of Insomnia is the
The plugin allows users to sync workspaces with GitHub gist, for free. Simply just follow the steps in the link given to set up.
I'd highly recommend you check out their paid version of the app as they come with additional features that allow for better team collaboration.
Prior to using Insomnia, I was using Postman a lot. Eventually, I find myself using Insomnia more and more.
Personally, I find Insomnia very easy to work with. Not forgetting to mention that I simply just like Insomnia’s cleaner and less cluttered UI. The hotkeys on Insomnia are much more intuitive and customizable to use too.
Finally, Insomnia also supports the ability to import multiple file types such as Postman v2, OpenAPI, Swagger, and more.