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Charles proxy review by

by Matthias Willerich on December 2 2008, 22:24

I've been mentioning Charles in comments here and on other sites for a good 3 years now. It's been a great companion in debugging server communication with flash and ajax applications, especially before firebug had its network monitoring capabilities.

Jonathan Snook, who has been writing a consistently amazing blog for many years now, has written a post about how he monitors his HTTP traffic with Charles, and he seems to use a setup very similar to what I use; Charles as a weapon of choice, when you're not 100% on what the server/client sends, when you need to resend requests to the server, etc. and the Firefox extension Live HTTP Headers when you want to see what the result does in your browser.

He writes:

"Charles ia a cross-platform desktop application that acts as a proxy for all web requests, no matter what browser they come from; it can even inspect Flash-originated requests and Adobe AIR application requests. As the proxy, it's able to see all the information flowing back and forth and provide a detailed peek at every request and response.

One of my favourite features — and where it stands out from the Firefox addons — is the ability to view XML, JSON and even AMF data structures. It's easy to see right away if a request was successful or not and you get access to all of the request and response headers."

I can only recommend that you give it a spin.


  • Nice! Reminded me of HTTP Scoop from Tuffcode which doesn't use proxy but is probably a little less feature full than Charles.

    by Alistair Holt on December 2 2008, 22:48 - #

  • I just did give this a spin, and it works very well I must say. Nice one M.

    I have just used the good old CLI packet sniffer in the past, like TCPDUMP. MacScoop obviously looks a bit nicer than that, but essentially the same.

    Of course tapping your network interface is a little less intrusive than proxy settings, but I must admit that the graphical iterface of charles is excelent for inspecting the response data.

    by Pascal Opitz on December 3 2008, 03:31 - #

  • It would be awesome if Charles had a network interface mode of sorts. Or if HTTP Scoop was to clone Charles' UI and features. Somewhat off-topic: My main gripe with Firebug is that I can't log anything to a file. I'd use these things for later comparison, or for things like FirePHP messages when the page is redirected (and the messages are subsequently gone again). Am I just stupid or is there no way to do this (let's say for the console, but also other bits)?

    by Matthias Willerich on December 3 2008, 09:57 - #

  • I use this proxy ,it's easy to be set up on firefox

    by amir on March 9 2009, 08:51 - #

  • Our company have been using for a couple of years now and I'm a big fan! Post on our blog

    by Paul Lemon on March 10 2009, 18:12 - #

  • @Alastair: tried out HTTPScoop, and have been using it since early 2009, and in tandem they are both amazing. I'm testing my sites locally, and the communication with webservices is nicely collected in HTTPScoop, while I collect my browser comms with Charles. Hurrah!

    by Matthias Willerich on January 11 2010, 17:23 - #

  • Yay, with the update to Version 1.4.3, HTTPScoop can now deal with Tunnelblick openVPN on OSX 10.5. Mine at least, there were reports that it was working before, and Matthias must've been doing something wrong. Well, not any more!

    by Matthias Willerich on May 24 2010, 06:54 - #

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