Android HTTP Client: GET, POST, Download, Upload, Multipart Request

Often Android apps have to exchange information with a remote server using Android HTTP client. The easiest way is to use the HTTP protocol as a base to transfer information. There are several scenarios where the HTTP protocol is very useful like downloading an image from a remote server or uploading some binary data to the server. Android app performs GET or POST request to send data. In this post, we want to investigate how to use HttpURLConnection to communicate with a remote server.

As a server, we will use three simple Servlet running inside Tomcat 7.0. We won’t cover how to create a Servlet using API 3.0, you can find the source code here.

android_handle_http_connection_tutorial

GET and POST requests in Android HTTP Client

When developing Android HTTP client, GET and POST requests are the base blocks in HTTP protocol. To make this kind of requests we need first to open a connection toward the remove server:

HttpURLConnection con = (HttpURLConnection) ( new URL(url)).openConnection();
con.setRequestMethod("POST");
con.setDoInput(true);
con.setDoOutput(true);
con.connect();

In the first line we get the HttpURLConnection, while in line 2, we set the method and at the end we connect to the server.
Once we have opened the connection we can write on it using the OutputStream.

con.getOutputStream().write( ("name=" + name).getBytes());

As we already know parameters are written using key value pair.
The last step is reading the response, using the InputStream:

InputStream is = con.getInputStream();
byte[] b = new byte[1024];
while ( is.read(b) != -1)
  buffer.append(new String(b));
con.disconnect();

Everything is very simple by now, but we have to remember one thing: when android HTTP client makes an HTTP connection, this operation is a time- consuming operation that could require a long time, sometime so we can’t run it in the main thread otherwise we could get a ANR problem. To solve it we can use an AsyncTask.

private class SendHttpRequestTask extends AsyncTask<String, Void, String>{
  @Override
  protected String doInBackground(String... params) {
    String url = params[0];
    String name = params[1];
    String data = sendHttpRequest(url, name);
    return data;
}

@Override
protected void onPostExecute(String result) {
  edtResp.setText(result);
  item.setActionView(null);
}
}

Running the app we get:

android http client post get android_http client post get

As we can see we post a name to the server and it responds with the classic ‘Hello….’. On the server side we can check that the server received correctly our post parameter:

android_tomcat_post_log

Are you looking for other free HTTP libraries for your Android app that can help you developing your app faster? Give a look at Android HTTP libraries.

Download data from server  to Android app

One of the most common scenario when developing Android HTTP client is when an Android App has to download some data from a remote sever. We can suppose that we want to download an image from the server. In this case we have always to use an AsyncTask to complete our operation, the code is shown below:

public byte[] downloadImage(String imgName) {
  ByteArrayOutputStream baos = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
  try {
    System.out.println("URL ["+url+"] - Name ["+imgName+"]");

    HttpURLConnection con = (HttpURLConnection) ( new URL(url)).openConnection();
    con.setRequestMethod("POST");
    con.setDoInput(true);
    con.setDoOutput(true);
    con.connect();
    con.getOutputStream().write( ("name=" + imgName).getBytes());

    InputStream is = con.getInputStream();
    byte[] b = new byte[1024];

    while ( is.read(b) != -1)
      baos.write(b);

    con.disconnect();
  }
  catch(Throwable t) {
    t.printStackTrace();
  }

return baos.toByteArray();
}

This method is called in this way:

private class SendHttpRequestTask extends AsyncTask<String, Void, byte[]> {

  @Override
  protected byte[] doInBackground(String... params) {
   String url = params[0];
   String name = params[1];

   HttpClient client = new HttpClient(url);
   byte[] data = client.downloadImage(name);

   return data;
  }

  @Override
  protected void onPostExecute(byte[] result) {
    Bitmap img = BitmapFactory.decodeByteArray(result, 0, result.length);
    imgView.setImageBitmap(img);
   item.setActionView(null);
  }

}
What HTTP library are you using for your Android app? Check this post about Android HTTP library to know the best one to use.

Running the app we have:

android http client post download

 

Upload data to the server using MultipartRequest

This the most complex part in developing Android HTTP client is handling HTTP connection. Natively HttpURLConnection doesn’t handle this type of request. It can happen that an Android App has to upload some binary data to the server. It can be that an app has to upload an image for example. In this case,the request gets more complex, because a “normal” request isn’t enough. We have to create a MultipartRequest.

A MultipartRequest is a request that is made by different parts as parameters and binary data. How can we handle this request?

Well the first step is opening a connection informing the server we want to send some binary info:

public void connectForMultipart() throws Exception {
  con = (HttpURLConnection) ( new URL(url)).openConnection();
  con.setRequestMethod("POST");
  con.setDoInput(true);
  con.setDoOutput(true);
  con.setRequestProperty("Connection", "Keep-Alive");
  con.setRequestProperty("Content-Type", "multipart/form-data; boundary=" + boundary);
  con.connect();
  os = con.getOutputStream();
}

In lines 6 and 7, we specify the request content-type and another field called boundary. This field is a char sequence used to separate different parts.

For each part, we want to add we need to specify if it is text part like post parameter or it is a file (so binary data).

public void addFormPart(String paramName, String value) throws Exception {
  writeParamData(paramName, value);
}

private void writeParamData(String paramName, String value) throws Exception {
  os.write( (delimiter + boundary + "rn").getBytes());
  os.write( "Content-Type: text/plainrn".getBytes());
  os.write( ("Content-Disposition: form-data; name="" + paramName + ""rn").getBytes());;
  os.write( ("rn" + value + "rn").getBytes());
}

where

private String delimiter = "--";
private String boundary = "SwA"+Long.toString(System.currentTimeMillis())+"SwA";

To add a file part we can use:

public void addFilePart(String paramName, String fileName, byte[] data) throws Exception {
  os.write( (delimiter + boundary + "rn").getBytes());
  os.write( ("Content-Disposition: form-data; name="" + paramName + ""; filename="" + fileName + ""rn" ).getBytes());
  os.write( ("Content-Type: application/octet-streamrn" ).getBytes());
  os.write( ("Content-Transfer-Encoding: binaryrn" ).getBytes());
  os.write("rn".getBytes());

  os.write(data);
  os.write("\r\n".getBytes());
}

So in our app we have:

private class SendHttpRequestTask extends AsyncTask<String, Void, String> {
  @Override
  protected String doInBackground(String... params) {
   String url = params[0];
   String param1 = params[1];
   String param2 = params[2];
   Bitmap b = BitmapFactory.decodeResource(UploadActivity.this.getResources(), R.drawable.logo);

   ByteArrayOutputStream baos = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
   b.compress(CompressFormat.PNG, 0, baos);

   try {
    HttpClient client = new HttpClient(url);
    client.connectForMultipart();
    client.addFormPart("param1", param1);
    client.addFormPart("param2", param2);
    client.addFilePart("file", "logo.png", baos.toByteArray());
    client.finishMultipart();
    String data = client.getResponse();
  }
  catch(Throwable t) {
    t.printStackTrace();
  }

  return null;
}

@Override
protected void onPostExecute(String data) {
  item.setActionView(null);
}

}

Running it we have:

 

android_tomcat_post_upload_log android http client post upload

 

Source code for server side servlet here

 

  • Rajul Bhatnagar

    It would be a lot more efficient to googles network library Volley for these tasks.Its very easy to use to.

  • simone

    I HAVE A QUESTION…Can I use this library for implementing a simple control remoto control (Android-android) between the intranet ?

  • survivingwithandroid

    Usually this kind of protocol is used in a client-sever scenario, especially when you have firewall. If you are in an intranet this lib can be used too but i suggest to look for something else. First of all because you don't have fw second because you had to implement an HTTP server somewhere (i.e. in one of the two android device).

  • Rameshbabu Palanisamy

    i want to get data from server and show it in the map. How can i do that. I am doing android application. please suggest some answers. Example in taxi booking application every user get the details about taxi and location of that taxi standing. How can i do like this.

  • kaushal

    how to post the parameter(data) like this format. pls help me

    http://xxxxx/xxx/abc.php?id=xx&name=xxx&data=%5B{…..}] and the output result

    "local" :[{"id" :"123a", "ph" : "1234444"]}

  • survivingwithandroid

    Use a POST method and instead of using
    con.getOutputStream().write( ("name=" + name).getBytes());
    use
    write..("name="+name+"&param1=….&param2="…").getBytes().
    Remember to encode the data.

  • kaushal

    hi…thnx for reply ..I have tried but not working as local..[{…}] this format. my code output like this format.{"local" :{ "id" : "123",…} .how can i do that local parameter as array. below is my code
    1) httpclass:

    HttpParams myParams = new BasicHttpParams();

    HttpConnectionParams.setConnectionTimeout(myParams, 10000);

    HttpConnectionParams.setSoTimeout(myParams, 10000);

    HttpClient httpclient = new DefaultHttpClient();

    String jSON = jObj.toString();

    HttpPost httppost = new HttpPost(url + "action=add_entry");

    httppost.setHeader("Content-type", "application/json");

    StringEntity se = new StringEntity(jSON);

    se.setContentEncoding(new BasicHeader(HTTP.CONTENT_TYPE, "application/json"));

    httppost.setEntity(se);

    // Checking Response

    HttpResponse response = httpclient.execute(httppost);

    String temp = EntityUtils.toString(response.getEntity());

    2) activity side

    JSONObject jTest = new JSONObject();

    httpcilentclass.postData(jTest.put("local", jObjMain));

    ===========================================
    pls reply ASAP possible with code..pls

  • Andrea Cani

    Hi, I have a problem, When I Download a image this is dowloded only foe 30% end in the next part of image I have the blue ball. Do you have any suggest?

  • survivingwithandroid

    Is This image very big? Try to check if there are any error

  • Andrea Cani

    I don't know Why this problem occurs, but I have find a solution, I have used the InputStream "is" and I have decoded the image with BitmapFactory.decodeStream(is); next at onPostExecute I have passed the img directly… I hope this procedure will is usefull for other user the will have my same problem

  • survivingwithandroid

    I've written a post about it look at this link if you like http://www.survivingwithandroid.com/2013/11/android-volley-tutorial-post-download.html

  • Fred .

    The variable buffer is never defined.

  • Fred .

    Why does some of this code use HttpClient (from Apache, org.apache.http.client.HttpClient) and some of the code use HttpURLConnection (from Java,

    java.net.HttpURLConnection)?
    You should use either, not both.

  • Arya

    What can I do to get an string and not an image?
    Thanks for the tut!

  • survivingwithandroid

    If you want to get a String you simply read the response.

  • Audhil

    Please provide servlet or php code as well for better understating

  • Ajay Adkar

    hey can i also provide server side code as well …. it would be really helpful……thnks in advance…..

  • Çağrı Çakır

    That would be better if you publish the 'DownloadServlet' codes.

  • survivingwithandroid
  • survivingwithandroid
  • Chang

    Just great, thanks! Could you please, show me how to send a json string to a server that requires authentication?

    Thank you in advance.

  • Guest

    hello how do I add a progressbar?

  • Davide Effe

    hello how do I add a progressbar?

  • Davide Effe

    hello how do I add a progressbar in multipart post?

  • Davide Effe

    hello how do I add a progressbar?

  • prachi

    Dear Sir,
    I need help in sending data to server with android code.I have an api example
    http://getepass.com/api.php?action=login&&[email protected]&&password=root
    I want to send email and password to server from mobile text and receive few parameter image ,name,compid etc and then show in app.
    I am using a lib for this but I want to code it myself If possible please send me the example to post and read the json from server in android.
    Thanks!
    Prachi Gupta

  • SH

    Hi,

    I’m trying to down load a file from a site, through android. The web page contains a long list of file and I’m interested in only one of them according to whatever the user choose. Should be very simple but I can’t get it to work. I don’t know a lot about HTML, probably that why…

    The href is a javacript function. The item in the HTML source looks like that:

    a id=”MainContent_repeater_lblDownloadFile_1587″ class=”btn-default btn-large”
    href=”javascript:__doPostBack('ctl00$MainContent$repeater$ctl1588
    $lblDownloadFile','')”>

    As one can see on the site there is a button that by clicking it gets the file downloaded.

    My question is how build the http request. I tried quite a few ways. I’m getting response from the site but not the file (which is a zip file). I’m using HttpURLConnection to connect.
    Any tips on how to build the request to the server?

    would appreciate very much any help, Thanks ahead, SH.

  • Ashish Kharangate

    it is so tough

  • sepehr

    hello how do I add a progressbar for uploading files?

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    It appears as though some of the text within your content are running
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  • Mor

    A code with a progress bar could have been perfect.. I can’t provide upload interface for my users without a progress bar 🙁