In this article, we'll explore seven noteworthy options. Below is a quick comparison table highlighting each tool's strengths and best use cases.
|Ease of Use
|Web scraping without getting blocked
|Beginner-friendly and easy to set up
window.fetch API to NodeJS environments
|Native auto-retries and HTTP/2 support
|Large user base
|Easy to use, compared to other headless browsers
|Can get slow, particularly when running multiple instances in parallel
|Low-level control and customization
|Growing user base
|Server-side HTTP requests
|Growing user base
|Easy to use
|Size-critical use cases
|Small user base
|Easy to use
Why Look for an Axios Alternative?
Axios is often preferred for its simplicity and ease of use. But it excels in many other areas, including backward compatibility, automatic JSON data transformation, HTTP interceptors, etc. However, like any other tool, it has its weaknesses, which causes developers to seek other alternatives.
Let's explore some of these limitations.
For Web Development
Axios Doesn’t Offer HTTP/2 Support
HTTP/2 is the newer version of the HTTP network protocol, designed to fix the drawbacks and improve the performance of its previous version (HTTP/1.1). Some key features of HTTP/2 include header compression, stream prioritization, multiplexing, etc. Axios doesn't have the built-in functionality to take advantage of these features.
Nevertheless, you can pair Axios with an HTTP/2-compatible library or module. Keep in mind that this might require additional dependencies and configurations that can add a layer of complexity to your project maintenance.
No Native Auto-retry
Axios does not have built-in functionality to handle, and retry failed HTTP requests automatically. To account for this, you must implement custom logic. This mainly involves Axios interceptors or other retry dependencies that could increase the complexity of your project and make it difficult to maintain.
Also, no native auto-retry means spending more time implementing and testing custom retry logic. This can be detrimental in cases where time and speed are critical factors.
Axios Isn’t The Fastest
Axios could be a more performant and efficient HTTP client in specific scenarios. For example, Axios uses a default pool size in handling parallel requests. Thus, if many requests are made in parallel, it could increase thread contention, potentially impacting performance.
Also, factors like the application's size, complexity, and overall architecture can slow down Axios. So, it's important to consider project requirements and benchmarks to determine whether an alternative offers better performance for your use case. For example, Got might provide better performance in making HTTP requests.
For Web Scraping
Axios Can’t Render Dynamic Content
It Has Issues with Page Interaction
Scraping complex or modern websites often requires simulating user actions or navigating a web page like a human user would. This typically involves interacting with various elements on the web page, such as clicking buttons, filling out forms, navigating through links, identifying inputs, etc.
Sadly, Axios has issues with page interaction, making it less suitable for retrieving data from such web pages
You Get Easily Blocked when Web Scraping
With most websites implementing advanced anti-bot measures to regulate bot traffic, you can get easily blocked when scraping the web. This is because HTTP clients like Axios possess bot-like fingerprints easily detectable by websites.
Although Axios allows you to configure your requests using techniques like User Agent spoofing, proxy rotation, etc., it's difficult to fly under the radar when web scraping with Axios.
1. ZenRows: Scrape Without Getting Blocked
If you’re looking for a web scraping Axios alternative, look no further than ZenRows. This web scraping API offers everything you need to scrape without getting blocked, regardless of the website's complexity. It's an all-in-one solution with premium proxies, anti-CAPTCHA, auto-set user agent rotation, among others.
Its full headless browser functionality means you can easily scrape dynamic content and interact with various elements on a web page, depending on your project needs.
Additionally, ZenRows has been experiencing exponential growth since its release, with its developer adoption increasing by 27.4% monthly. All this, alongside its versatility as an API, proxy, and SDK, makes ZenRows the perfect Axios alternative for web scraping.
- Headless browser functionality.
- Best anti-bot bypass features to scrape all web pages.
- Auto-rotating proxies.
- Easy to use and intuitive API.
- Extensive documentation and a rapidly growing developer community.
- No-code/low-code scraping with Zapier and Make integrations.
- Limited customization compared to other open-source alternatives.
"... The thing I like the most is how easy to use ZenRows is…"
- Valeria S.
"I never had to worry about bot prevention systems… the ZenRows API takes care of that."
- Alper B.
"I've found slightly cheaper options, but much less sophisticated."
- Joseph N.
"... The best side is the reliability."
- Jose Ilberto F.
2. Node-fetch: Bridging Fetch API to Node.js
Like Axios, Node-fetch is a promised-based HTTP client with a low-level API that allows more customization control, albeit in exchange for additional boilerplate code. Essentially, Node-fetch brings the `window.fetch` API to Node.js environments. It provides a similar interface to the browser's Fetch API, which makes it easy to transition between client-side and server-side code.
Now, let's talk numbers.
As of the time of writing, Node-fetch boasts 22 million+ npm downloads per week. Also, it records over 1k forks and 8.6k stars on GitHub, and its popularity is still growing. Here's why.
- Modern fetch API compatibility.
- Complete customization.
- Trade-offs following WHATWG specifications
- Native promise and async functions
- Automatic UTF-8 conversions
- Provides valuable extensions, including redirect limits, response size limits, etc.
- Lacks a built-in, standard-compliant caching system.
- Limited support for older NodeJS versions.
- No built-in progress events.
"I've used Fetch in the past, great lib.…"
- Seal D.
"Node-fetch (which is great, by the way!) implements fetch reasonably."
"Node-fetch bridges the gap between http and the fetch API."
- Nathan J.
3. Got: Human-friendly HTTP Client
Got stands out as a high-performance HTTP request library for Node.js. It offers a feature-rich experience like Axios. From timeouts and redirects to response caching and request cancellation, this library integrates essential functionalities that provide a versatile toolset for making HTTP requests.
Yet, it also thrives in areas where Axios doesn't, such as built-in support for automatic retries and HTTP/2. Also, it offers automatic decompression of compressed responses, which facilitates efficient data transfer and faster response times.
- Native auto-retries
- HTTP/2 support
- Request cancellation
- Handles gzip/deflate
- Custom defaults
- May require additional boilerplate code for advanced features.
- Primarily designed for NodeJS environments.
"I like and use got, and had some pretty cool features out of the box..…"
"Got is a great choice, though it's definitely heavier in terms of dependencies."
"I'd recommend that you use Got if you're on ESM. Also, Got speaks HTTP/2."
▶️ Try Got
4. Puppeteer: Headless Browser Automation
Puppeteer is a headless browser (browser without a graphical user interface) developed by the Chrome team. It provides a programmatic interface to control and interact with Chrome via the DevTools protocol. Although initially designed for testing, Puppeteer's application extends to web scraping and other browser-related tasks.
Unlike Axios, this tool's headless browser functionality and ability to interact with elements on a web page (clicking, scrolling, etc.) make it an excellent solution for scraping dynamic websites. However, the same automation trait is easily detectable by anti-bot systems.
Lastly, Puppeteer is a popular solution with an active developer community and 84k+ stars/9.1k forks on GitHub. Also, it's distributed via npm with over 1.3 million weekly downloads.
- Supports NodeJS and has an unofficial Python port: Pyppeteer.
- Active development cycle.
- Maintained by Google and over 400 contributors.
- Can run multiple instances in parallel.
- Relatively easy to use.
- No additional set-up is required.
- Officially supports only one programming language: NodeJS.
- Limited browser support (Chromium and Chrome)
- Can get slow when running multiple browser instances.
"Puppeteer has been a revelation for our web scraping needs, allowing us to scrape SPAs efficiently."
- Arne R..
"While it's undoubtedly powerful and feature-rich, setting up more complex scenarios can be convoluted. Some documentation lacks clarity, making the learning curve steeper than expected."
- Emily Johnson.
"We appreciate its commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest Chrome browser versions, ensuring compatibility and reducing maintenance hassles."
- Molina X.
5. SuperAgent: Unmatched Low-level Control and Customization
SuperAgent is a lightweight and flexible HTTP request library for NodeJS environments and browsers like Axios. However, it distinguishes itself with built-in auto-retry functionality, allowing you to handle intermittent network issues or retry failed requests quickly. Similarly, its flexibility in configuring and customizing requests offers more control over HTTP interactions compared to Axios.
Additionally, SuperAgent is a popular npm package, gaining traction due to its ease of use and low-level request control. It boasts 16.5k GitHub stars and over 2.7 million weekly downloads.
- Highly customizable
- Chainable and fluent API
- Built-in auto-retry
- Requests/Response transformation.
- Error handling.
- Active developer community.
- May require additional plugins for more complex functionalities.
"I tried both Axios and SuperAgent and finally chose SuperAgent because it has built-in retry."
"While it's a great HTTP library, setting up more complex scenarios can increase size due to additional plugins."
- Jane T.
"SuperAgent is fast under Node.js."
"SuperAgent offers a fluent API and a wide array of plugins."
- Louis Young.
6. Needle: Lightweight Backend Mastery
Finally, Needle is a rapidly growing NodeJS solution with over 2.3 million npm downloads and 1.6k GitHub stars.
- Automatically parses response to JSON or XML.
- Supports promises and traditional callbacks.
- Multi-part requests.
- Proxy support.
- Minimal feature set compared to Axios.
- No browser support.
"Needle is my go-to HTTP client for Node.js backend tasks. I appreciate its efficient approach to making quick HTTP requests without unnecessary complexities."
- Lang D.
"Needle's lack of support for browser environments made it a less-than-ideal choice for our application."
- Samantha S.
"We've used Needle extensively for uploading and downloading data streams in our Node.js applications."
- Albert T.
7. Ky: HTTP Client for Modern Browsers and Deno
The last Axios alternative on this list is Ky, a lightweight HTTP client that redefines data fetching by targeting modern browsers, Node.js, and Deno. With its minimalist design and zero dependencies, this tool is a tiny yet robust solution, offering distinct advantages over Axios, including built-in auto-retries
Ky is a growing solution with a relatively small user base, as evidenced by its 300K+ weekly npm downloads and 11k GitHub stars.
- Built-in automatic retries
- JSON option
- Supports timeouts
- Custom defaults
- Treats none 2xx status codes as errors after redirects.
- Relatively small user base and community.
- Limited features.
"Ky's lightweight design ensures efficient performance without unnecessary complexities."
- Jeffrey S.
"While it's good that Ky keeps things simple, it's missing some advanced features."
- Shawn D.
"Ky is lightweight and easy to integrate."
Choosing an Axios alternative can be overwhelming with the numerous options out there. However, we've narrowed it down to the seven best options in NodeJS. From its headless browser functionality to the ability to bypass any anti-bot system, ZenRows leads the way in web scraping. Similarly, Got stands out as a great web development alternative.