HTTP library
plz- (.sig), 2024-Apr-26, 180 KiB
Adam Porter <>
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Full description


plz is an HTTP library for Emacs. It uses curl as a backend, which avoids some of the issues with using Emacs's built-in url library. It supports both synchronous and asynchronous requests. Its API is intended to be simple, natural, and expressive. Its code is intended to be simple and well-organized. Every feature is tested against httpbin.

1. Installation


plz is available in GNU ELPA. It may be installed in Emacs using the package-install command.

1.2. Manual

plz has no dependencies other than Emacs and curl. It's known to work on Emacs 26.3 or later. To install it manually, simply place plz.el in your load-path and (require 'plz).

2. Usage

The main public function is plz, which sends an HTTP request and returns either the result of the specified type (for a synchronous request), or the curl process object (for asynchronous requests). For asynchronous requests, callback, error-handling, and finalizer functions may be specified, as well as various other options.

2.1. Examples

Synchronously GET a URL and return the response body as a decoded string (here, raw JSON):

(plz 'get "")
"{\n \"user-agent\": \"curl/7.35.0\"\n}\n"

Synchronously GET a URL that returns a JSON object, and parse and return it as an alist:

(plz 'get "" :as #'json-read)
  (Accept . "*/*")
  (Accept-Encoding . "deflate, gzip")
  (Host . "")
  (User-Agent . "curl/7.35.0"))
 (url . ""))

Asynchronously POST a JSON object in the request body, then parse a JSON object from the response body, and call a function with the result:

(plz 'post ""
  :headers '(("Content-Type" . "application/json"))
  :body (json-encode '(("key" . "value")))
  :as #'json-read
  :then (lambda (alist)
	  (message "Result: %s" (alist-get 'data alist))))
Result: {"key":"value"}

Synchronously download a JPEG file, then create an Emacs image object from the data:

(let ((jpeg-data (plz 'get "" :as 'binary)))
  (create-image jpeg-data nil 'data))
(image :type jpeg :data ""ÿØÿà^@^PJFIF...")

2.2. Functions


(method url &key headers body else finally noquery (as 'string) (then 'sync) (body-type 'text) (decode t decode-s) (connect-timeout plz-connect-timeout) (timeout plz-timeout))

Request METHOD from URL with curl. Return the curl process object or, for a synchronous request, the selected result.

HEADERS may be an alist of extra headers to send with the request.

BODY may be a string, a buffer, or a list like (file FILENAME) to upload a file from disk.

BODY-TYPE may be text to send BODY as text, or binary to send it as binary.

AS selects the kind of result to pass to the callback function THEN, or the kind of result to return for synchronous requests. It may be:

  • buffer to pass the response buffer, which will be narrowed to the response body and decoded according to DECODE.
  • binary to pass the response body as an un-decoded string.
  • string to pass the response body as a decoded string.
  • response to pass a plz-response structure.
  • file to pass a temporary filename to which the response body has been saved without decoding.
  • (file ~FILENAME) to pass FILENAME after having saved the response body to it without decoding. FILENAME must be a non-existent file; if it exists, it will not be overwritten, and an error will be signaled.
  • A function, which is called in the response buffer with it narrowed to the response body (suitable for, e.g. json-read).

If DECODE is non-nil, the response body is decoded automatically. For binary content, it should be nil. When AS is binary, DECODE is automatically set to nil.

THEN is a callback function, whose sole argument is selected above with AS; if the request fails and no ELSE function is given (see below), the argument will be a plz-error structure describing the error. Or THEN may be sync to make a synchronous request, in which case the result is returned directly from this function.

ELSE is an optional callback function called when the request fails (i.e. if curl fails, or if the HTTP response has a non-2xx status code). It is called with one argument, a plz-error structure. If ELSE is nil, a plz-curl-error or plz-http-error is signaled when the request fails, with a plz-error structure as the error data. For synchronous requests, this argument is ignored.

NOTE: In v0.8 of plz, only one error will be signaled: plz-error. The existing errors, plz-curl-error and plz-http-error, inherit from plz-error to allow applications to update their code while using v0.7 (i.e. any condition-case forms should now handle only plz-error, not the other two).

FINALLY is an optional function called without argument after THEN or ELSE, as appropriate. For synchronous requests, this argument is ignored.

CONNECT-TIMEOUT and TIMEOUT are a number of seconds that limit how long it takes to connect to a host and to receive a response from a host, respectively.

NOQUERY is passed to make-process, which see.

FILTER is an optional function to be used as the process filter for the curl process. It can be used to handle HTTP responses in a streaming way. The function must accept 2 arguments, the process object running curl, and a string which is output received from the process. The default process filter inserts the output of the process into the process buffer. The provided FILTER function should at least insert output up to the HTTP body into the process buffer.

2.3. Queueing

plz provides a simple system for queueing HTTP requests. First, make a plz-queue struct by calling make-plz-queue. Then call plz-queue with the struct as the first argument, and the rest of the arguments being the same as those passed to plz. Then call plz-run to run the queued requests.

All of the queue-related functions return the queue as their value, making them easy to use. For example:

(defvar my-queue (make-plz-queue :limit 2))

 (plz-queue my-queue
   'get ""
   :then (lambda (body) (message "%s" body))))


(let ((queue (make-plz-queue :limit 2
			     :finally (lambda ()
					(message "Queue empty."))))
      (urls '(""
   (dolist (url urls queue)
     (plz-queue queue 'get url
       :then (lambda (body) (message "%s" body))))))

You may also clear a queue with plz-clear, which cancels any active or queued requests and calls their :else functions. And plz-length returns the number of a queue's active and queued requests.

2.4. Tips

  • You can customize settings in the plz group, but this can only be used to adjust a few defaults. It's not intended that changing or binding global variables be necessary for normal operation.

3. Changelog

3.1. 0.8


  • Function plz now accepts a :filter argument which can be used to override the default process filter (e.g. for streaming responses). (#43, #50. Thanks to Roman Scherer.)

3.2. 0.7.3


  • Info manual generation on GNU ELPA. (Also, the Info manual is no longer committed to Git.)

3.3. 0.7.2


  • Don't delete preexisting files when downloading to a file. (#41. Thanks to Joseph Turner.)

3.4. 0.7.1


  • Handle HTTP 303 redirects. (Thanks to Daniel Hubmann for reporting.)

3.5. 0.7


  • A new error signal, plz-error, is defined. The existing signals, plz-curl-error and plz-http-error, inherit from it, so handling plz-error catches both.

    NOTE: The existing signals, plz-curl-error and plz-http-error, are hereby deprecated, and they will be removed in v0.8. Applications should be updated while using v0.7 to only expect plz-error.


  • Significant improvement in reliability by implementing failsafes and workarounds for Emacs's process-handling code. (See #3.)
  • STDERR output from curl processes is not included in response bodies (which sometimes happened, depending on Emacs's internal race conditions). (Fixes #23.)
  • Use with-local-quit for synchronous requests (preventing Emacs from complaining sometimes). (Fixes #26.)
  • Various fixes for :as 'buffer result type: decode body when appropriate; unset multibyte for binary; narrow to body; don't kill buffer prematurely.
  • When clearing a queue, don't try to kill finished processes.


  • Response processing now happens outside the process sentinel, so any errors (e.g. in user callbacks) are not signaled from inside the sentinel. (This avoids the 2-second pause Emacs imposes in such cases.)
  • Tests run against a local instance of httpbin (since the server is often overloaded).
  • No buffer-local variables are defined anymore; process properties are used instead.

3.6. 0.6


  • Function plz's :body argument now accepts a list like (file FILENAME) to upload a file from disk (by passing the filename to curl, rather than reading its content into Emacs and sending it to curl through the pipe).


  • Function plz's docstring now mentions that the :body argument may also be a buffer (an intentional feature that was accidentally undocumented).
  • Handle HTTP 3xx redirects when using :as 'response.

3.7. 0.5.4


  • Only run queue's finally function after queue is empty. (New features should not be designed and released on a Friday.)

3.8. 0.5.3


  • Move new slot in plz-queue struct to end to prevent invalid byte-compiler expansions for already-compiled applications (which would require them to be recompiled after upgrading plz).

3.9. 0.5.2


  • When clearing a queue, only call plz-queue's finally function when specified.

3.10. 0.5.1


  • Only call plz-queue's finally function when specified. (Thanks to Dan Oriani for reporting.)

3.11. 0.5


  • Struct plz-queue's finally slot, a function called when the queue is finished.

3.12. 0.4


  • Support for HTTP HEAD requests. (Thanks to USHIN, Inc. for sponsoring.)


  • Allow sending POST and PUT requests without bodies. (#16. Thanks to Joseph Turner for reporting. Thanks to USHIN, Inc. for sponsoring.)


  • All 2xx HTTP status codes are considered successful. (#17. Thanks to Joseph Turner for reporting. Thanks to USHIN, Inc. for sponsoring.)
  • Errors are signaled with error data correctly.


  • Test suite explicitly tests with both HTTP/1.1 and HTTP/2.
  • Test suite also tests with Emacs versions 27.2, 28.1, and 28.2.

3.13. 0.3



  • Replaced words not in Ispell's default dictionaries (so checkdoc linting succeeds).

3.14. 0.2.1


  • Handle when Curl process is interrupted.

3.15. 0.2


  • Simple request queueing.

3.16. 0.1

Initial release.

4. Credits

5. Development

Bug reports, feature requests, suggestions — oh my!

Note that plz is a young library, and its only client so far is Ement.el. There are a variety of HTTP and curl features it does not yet support, since they have not been needed by the author. Patches are welcome, as long as they include passing tests.

5.1. Copyright assignment

This package is part of GNU Emacs, being distributed in GNU ELPA. Contributions to this project must follow GNU guidelines, which means that, as with other parts of Emacs, patches of more than a few lines must be accompanied by having assigned copyright for the contribution to the FSF. Contributors who wish to do so may contact to request the assignment form.

6. License


Old versions

plz-0.8pre0.20240421.63707.tar.lz2024-Apr-2173.8 KiB
plz-0.8pre0.20240331.105734.tar.lz2024-Mar-3173.1 KiB
plz-0.8pre0.20231218.45506.tar.lz2023-Dec-1872.9 KiB
plz-0.8pre0.20230709.214633.tar.lz2023-Jul-1072.8 KiB
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