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Axios vs fetch - which one is right for you?

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What is fetch?

The JavaScript Fetch API allows you to make HTTP requests and handle responses without external dependencies. The global fetch() method can be used to perform these asynchronous operations. Two important points to note about the fetch() method are:

  • If the server returns any kind of response (success or error), the promise returned by fetch() won't reject. This means that HTTP status codes need to be checked and handled manually - more on this in the example below.
  • fetch() doesn't send cross-origin cookies by default. The credentials init option has to be specifically set to include cross-origin cookies.

What is Axios?

Axios is a simple promise based HTTP client that can be used in the browser and in Node.js. This small package is simple to use with a very extensible interface. It makes XMLHttpRequests from the browser and HTTP requests from Node.js. Unlike fetch(), when making a request using Axios, a promise will automatically reject when an error response (4XX or 5XX status codes) is returned - more on this in the example below.

fetch() vs Axios

As mentioned, one of the main differences between fetch() and Axios requests is that the fetch() promise will never reject if a response is returned, while the Axios promise will reject only when an error response is returned. To illustrate this principle check the code samples below.

A typical fetch() request looks like this:

fetch-example.js
  fetch('/api/url')
    .then(response => {
      // Check the status code and return promise

      if (response.status >= 200 && response.status < 300) {
        // handle success response
        return response.json()
      }

      if (response.status >= 300 && response.status < 400) {
        // handle redirect response
      }

      if (response.status >= 400 && response.status < 500) {
        // handle client error response
      }

      if (response.status >= 500 && response.status < 600) {
        // handle server error response
      }
    })
    .then(data => {
      // use the data returned from previous .then()
    })
    .catch(error => {
      // handle other errors
      // e.g. network failure or if the request could not be completed
    })

And a typical Axios GET request looks like this:

axios-example.js
  axios.get('/api/url')
    .then(response => {
      // handle success response
    })
    .catch(error => {
      // handle error
      if (error.response) {
        // handle client and server error response (4XX or 5XX status codes)
      } else if (error.request) {
        // handle error where no response was received from the server
      } else {
        // handle other errors
        // e.g. network failure
      }
    })

It's clear from the examples above that more lines of code are required for the fetch() method to accomplish what Axios does out of the box. HTTP request error handling is much simpler with Axios. Off course, the choice between using fetch() and Axios will depend on your specific requirements and not necessarily on the amount of code required to achieve a certain result. With that being said, if you opt for using fetch() you will eventually end up writing a lot of the abstractions that has already been written for Axios - e.g. generic error handling, reading the response body, etc.

The minified version of Axios is also impressively small - only 6.63KB. This means it won't negatively impact your page load times when used client-side. For the purpose of this post, the full feature-list of Axios was not discussed, but it extends far beyond simple HTTP requests. You can read more about all the useful features in the official Axios docs. It's definitely worth checking out.

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