An alternative to Postman for API tests

Facundo Gauna's photo
Facundo Gauna
·Feb 11, 2020·

2 min read

Pester is a unit testing module for Powershell. With some creativity, Pester can be a great tool to write API tests. Perhaps, it can be more effective than Postman for .NET developers and those in the Windows ecosystem.

Making RESTful calls

Without Pester, making an API call can be fairly straight-forward.

$response = Invoke-WebRequest -Method Get -Uri "http://someurl/api/orders" `
            -Headers @{'Authorization'= "Bearer $accessToken"} `
            | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Content `
            | ConvertFrom-Json

This example makes an API call to /api/orders and provides an access token as part of the header. From the response, we pipe the Content and we convert parse the JSON. This is vanilla Powershell functionality.

Side Note: If you use your own homegrown authentication system on your API, you will have more flexibility to authenticate against it with Powershell. Postman only accepts standardized and well known protocols.


Pester provides the test runner and the assertion behaviors. So, instead of creating unit tests for testing Powershell code, we can leverage Pester to run our API calls and validate the responses.

Here’s what a test could look like using Pester.

Describe "Get Orders" {

    $response = Invoke-WebRequest -Method Get -Uri "http://someurl/api/orders" `
            -Headers @{'Authorization'= "Bearer $accessToken"} `
            | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Content `
            | ConvertFrom-Json

    It "Has results" {
        $response.values | Should -Not -BeNullOrEmpty
        $ | Should -BeGreaterThan 0

Here this test verifies that the data coming back has orders and that the values are not empty. Fairly simplistic. The API data would be something like { values: [{...}], total: 5 }

The assertion happens through the Should function. Here’s all the assertions possible through Pester.

Test from the pipeline

Once you have a nice test suite, you can also run these tests from your CI/CD pipeline.

Using Azure DevOps, here’s what the YAML could be when running on a hosted agent:

- powershell: |
     Install-Module -Name Pester -Force
     Invoke-Pester -EnableExit

So, why Powershell/Pester?

When using something like Postman, it’s limited to only testing API calls. Also, in my experience it’s easy to create Postman tests that they only use for local development. They’re easy to forget about and hard to maintain. Even more so, it’s rare that they’re incorporated into CI/CD pipelines.

Creating Powershell tests is a niche. Certainly, won’t be effective for all .NET teams.

If you’re unfamiliar with Powershell, here’s a great PluralSight course that helped me.

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