Programming language: C#
License: MIT License
Tags: HTTP    
Latest version: v0.7.1

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RestLess is another type-safe REST API client library. It is heavily inspired by Refit, which is inspired by Retrofit, but does not works exactly the same way.

In fact RestLess is built by keeping in mind that reflection is slow. When we build beautiful apps we don't want them to be slow down because of an external library, that's why all the RestLess REST clients are fully generated during the compilation.

This library fully supports the uri template defined by the RFC6570 thanks to DoLess.UriTemplates.

Performance comparison

The main goal of RestLess is to be fast. So I created a little benchmark project that can be run on Android. I benchmarked Refit against RestLess for now, on two devices (time is in ms):

Device 1

Orange Nura

This is an old device running under Android 4.4.


Device 2

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung 2017 flagship runnind under Android 7.0.



RestLess is really fast, especially at startup time. On an old device, with Refit, the startup time is more than one second while RestLess is 9 times faster with 120ms! On the request time side, RestLess is faster thant Refit, but I don't think this is very relevant since the network will be the bottleneck.

How it works

Install the NuGet package called RestLess and one of the extra package (like RestLess.JsonNet) into your project. A RestLess folder with a file named RestClient.g.dl.rest.cs will be inserted in your project. This file will allow you to create the Rest client from your interface without reflection.

As in Refit, you have to create an interface representing your REST API and use attributes to indicate what to do. During the project compilation, all REST clients will be generated.

Warning: In Visual Studio for Mac, with versions prior to 0.7.1, the intellisense does not detect RestClient, but it will compile nonetheless. From 0.7.1, you will have to close Visual Studio for Mac after adding this package and open it again. This is because Visual Studio for Mac keeps some project properties in cache.


Available on NuGet.

Install RestLess


Install RestLess.JsonNet if you want to serialize/deserialize using Json.Net


Quick start

1°) Create your REST API interface

[Header("User-Agent", "RestLess")]
public interface IGitHubApi
    Task<User> GetUserAsync(string userId);

2°) Get the actual REST client

IGitHubApi gitHubApi = RestClient.For<IGitHubApi>("https://api.github.com");

3°) Make the call

User user = await gitHubApi.GetUserAsync("lestar");

REST client customization

You can change the way the API works with two things: The HttpClient that can be passed to the For method, or with the RestSettings


The For method accepts a HttpClient, so you can initialize it with a HttpMessageHandler. With this, you can set default headers with a runtime value that will be the same accross all calls. You can also create a DelegatingHandler for authentification, an other one for logging, etc.


These settings are used directly by the requests generated by RestLess.

You can set custom parameters or formatters but the default RestSettings does not come with useful formatters (Because we don't want the core package to have a lot of dependencies).

For example, if you want to serialize/deserialize JSON content with Json.Net you'll have to get the RestLess.JsonNet NuGet package. Of course, you can write your own, if what you are looking for does not yet exists.

Custom parameters

Custom parameters can be set at runtime but they are common to the entire REST client. These parameters can be used inside HeaderAttributes (set the isCustomParameter parameter to true) or inside the uri templates defined into the HTTP Method attributes

settings.CustomParameters.Add("api_key", "bXlhcGlrZXk=");


The formatters can change the way an object is serialized/deserialized. There must be a default formatter for each kind of formatter.

As opposed to Refit you can use a specific formatter for a method and use the default one for the others.


These formatters are used to serialize/deserialize the body of a HTTP request/response from/into an object.

You can set a method-specific MediaTypeFormatter like this:

RestSettings restSettings = new RestSettings();
restSettings.MediaTypeFormatters.Set("MediaTypeJsonFormatter", new MyMediaTypeJsonFormatter());


Task<HttpResponseMessage> GetAsync();

These formatters are used to serialize an object into a string. This string will be used to expand the variable in the uri template.

You can set a method-specific UrlParameterFormatter like this:

RestSettings restSettings = new RestSettings();
restSettings.UrlParameterFormatters.Set("UrlParameterFormatter", new MyUrlParameterFormatter());


Task<HttpResponseMessage> GetAsync(MyObject obj);

These formatters are used to serialize an object into a IEnumerable<KeyValuePair<string,string>> that will be used to create an encoded url form content.

You can set a method-specific FormFormatter like this:

RestSettings restSettings = new RestSettings();
restSettings.FormFormatters.Set("FormFormatter", new MyFormFormatterFormatter());


Task<HttpResponseMessage> PostAsync([FormUrlEncodedContent] MyObject obj);


Setting the Http Method

In order to be identified as a REST interface, all methods of the interface must have a HTTP Method attribute that provides the request method and relative URL.

There are 8 built-in attributes: Delete, Get, Head, Options, Patch, Post, Put and Trace. The relative URL of the resource must be specified as the argument of this attribute and it have to respect the RFC6570 Uri template specification.

Note: You can use a literal string, or any expression (like a constant) as the attribute argument.


A request URL can be updated dynamically with the values of the method parameters or through the CustomParameters of the RestSettingsclass. The parameter names are case-insensitive, so it will work correctly in this case:

Task<HttpResponseMessage> GetUserAsync(string userId);

You can use the Name attribute to override the name of the parameter that will be used by the UriTemplate:

Task<HttpResponseMessage> GetUserAsync([Name("userId")] string id);

Setting global request uri prefix or suffix

If the REST API always starts with a common string, let's say a version number for example, you can put it into a UriTemplatePrefixAttribute Alternatively you can do the same if you REST API always ends with the same string, using the UriTemplateSuffixAttribute

Setting headers

There are three ways to set a header value:

With a constant

If you have a header with a constant value you can use the HeaderAttribute that way:

[Header("User-Agent", "AppAgentForAllMethods")]
public interface IRestApi
    [Header("User-Agent", "AppAgentForThisMethodOnly")]
    Task<User> GetUserAsync();
    // .. Some code...

At runtime through the settings

You can also set a global header value at runtime for all the methods of your REST client:

RestSettings restSettings = new RestSettings();
restSettings.CustomParameters.Add("apiKey", ApiKey);


[Header("User-Agent", "apiKey", true)]
public interface IRestApi
    // .. Some code...


If the content of the header can change between calls, you can apply a HeaderValueAttribute to a parameter:

Task<User> GetUserAsync([HeaderValue("User-Token")] string token);

Overwrite header values

Redefining a header will replace it in the following order of precedence:

  • Header attribute on the interface (lowest priority)
  • Header attribute on the method
  • HeaderValue attribute on a method parameter (highest priority)

Setting the body content

You can add a body content to your request by applying the Content or the FormUrlEncodedContent attribute to a method parameter.

With the Content attribute, the parameter can have one the following types:

  • HttpContent
  • Stream
  • string
  • byte[]
  • object => This will use the specified MediaTypeFormatter (or the default one if not set)
  • FileInfo => This trigger creates a MultipartFormDataContent even if it is the only parameter

With the FormUrlEncodedContent attribute, the parameter can have one the following types:

  • IEnumerable<KeyValuePair<string, string>>
  • object => This will use the specified FormFormatter (or the default one if not set)

You can decorate multiple parameters with the Content or the FormUrlEncodedContent attribute. The body of the request will be a MultipartFormDataContent. When you want to create a multipart request, the default name for each parameter will be the parameter name. You can ovveride this behavior with the Name attribute. You can also set an optional fileName or contentType through the attribute parameters.


Task<HttpResponseMessage> PostMultipartContent03Async([Content]string content, [Name("firstName")][Content("f", "text/plain")]string content2);

Will create a content like this:

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
Content-Disposition: form-data; name=content

Content-Type: text/plain
Content-Disposition: form-data; name=firstName; filename=f; filename*=utf-8''f


Retrieving the response

All the REST client methods must return a Task.

You can set a generic parameter type to the Task, the valid ones are:

  • HttpResponseMessage
  • Stream
  • string
  • bool => This will return if the response has a success code without throwing an error
  • byte[]
  • object => This will use the specified MediaTypeFormatter (or the default one if not set)

Get response header

Sometimes REST APIS return useful information in the headers of the response. You can get them by setting the HeaderWriterproperty of the RestSettings:

public class HeaderWriter : IHeaderWriter
    public void Write(HttpResponseHeaders headers, object obj)
        if (obj is IPagedResponse pagedResponse)
            if (headers.TryGetValue(PaginationPage, out int page))
                pagedResponse.Page = page;

            if (headers.TryGetValue(PaginationPageCount, out int pageCount))
                pagedResponse.PageCount = pageCount;


mockHttp.Expect(HttpMethod.Get, url)
        .Respond(x =>
            var response = new HttpResponseMessage(HttpStatusCode.OK)
                Content = new StringContent("[{'firstName':'A','lastName':'AA'},{'firstName':'B','lastName':'BB'}]", Encoding.UTF8, "application/json")

            response.Headers.Add(PaginationPage, "1");
            response.Headers.Add(PaginationPageCount, "2");

            return response;

var settings = new JsonRestSettings()
    HttpMessageHandlerFactory = () => mockHttp,
    HeaderWriter = new HeaderWriter()

IApi09 restClient = RestClient.For<IApi09>(url, settings);
var people = await restClient.GetPagedPeopleAsync();


Differences with Refit

Unlike Refit, the core of RestLess does not use reflection at runtime (For MediaFormatters it depends of the implementation). All the REST methods are generated during compile-time.

The RestLess package does not have any dependencies to another third-party library (except DoLess.UriTemplates). In order to read/write Json, you need to reference RestLess.JsonNet for example, but you can also write your own formatting strategies.

RestLess supports:

  • Generic methods
  • Method polymorphism
  • The use of constants inside the attributes
  • UriTemplates: see the Spec
  • Method specific formatters
  • Getting response headers in the returned object

Not supported features

Right now, RestLess does not supports:

  • Interface inheritance