Python One Line HTTP Get

You may already know about Python’s capability to create a simple web server in a single line of Python code. Old news. Besides, what’s the point of creating a webserver that only runs on your machine? It would be far more interesting to learn how to access existing websites in a single line of code. Surprisingly, nobody talks about this in the Python One-Liners community. Time to change it!

This tutorial shows you how to perform simple HTTP get and post requests to an existing webserver!

Problem: Given the URL location of a webserver serving websites via HTTP. How to access the webserver’s response in a single line of Python code?

Example: Say, you want to accomplish the following:

url = ''
# ... Magic One-Liner Here...
# ... Google HTML file:
<!doctype html><html itemscope="" itemtype="" lang="de"><head><meta content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" http-equiv="Content-Type"><meta content="/images/branding/googleg/1x/googleg_standard_color_128dp.png" itemprop="image"><title>Google</title>...

You can try it yourself in our interactive Python shell:

Exercise: Does this script download the complete source code of the website?

Let’s learn about the three most important methods to access a website in a single line of Python code—and how they work!

Method 1: requests.get(url)

The simplest one-liner solution is the following:

import requests; print(requests.get(url = '').text)

Here’s how this one-liner works:

  • Import the Python library requests that handles the details of requesting the websites from the server in an easy-to-process format.
  • Use the requests.get(...) method to access the website and pass the URL '' as an argument so that the function knows which location to access.
  • Access the actual body of the get request (the return value is a request object that also contains some useful meta information like the file type, etc.).
  • Print the result to the shell.

Note that the semicolon is used to one-linerize this method. This is useful if you want to run this command from your operating system with the following command:

python -r "import requests; print(requests.get(url = '').text)"

The output is the desired Google website:

<!doctype html><html itemscope="" itemtype="" lang="de"><head><meta content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" http-equiv="Content-Type"><meta content="/images/branding/googleg/1x/googleg_standard_color_128dp.png" itemprop="image"><title>Google</title>...

Note that you may have to install the requests library with the following command in your operating system terminal:

pip install requests

A similar approach can be taken if you want to issue a post request:

Method 2:

What if you want to post some data to a web resource? Use the post method of the requests module! Here’s a minimal one-liner example of the method:

import requests as r; print('', {'key': 'val'}).text)

The approach is similar to the first one:

  • Import the requests module.
  • Call the method.
  • Pass the URL '' as the first parameter into the function.
  • Pass the value to be posted to the URL—in our case a simple key-value pair in a dictionary data structure.
  • Access the body via the text attribute of the request object.
  • Print it to the shell.

Method 3: urllib.request

A recommended way to fetch web resources from a website is the urllib.request() function. This also works to create a simple one-liner to access the Google website in Python 3 as before:

import urllib.request as r; print(r.urlopen('').read())

It works similarly than before by returning a Request object that can be accessed to read the server’s response. We’re cramming everything into a single line so that you can run it from your OS’s terminal:

python -r "import urllib.request as r; print(r.urlopen('').read())"

Congrats! You now have mastered the art of accessing websites in a single line of Python code. If you’re interested in boosting your one-liner power, have a look at my new book:

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