Getting the IBM Connections API to play nice with Postman/ Chrome

postmanI was doing some work with an Angular application talking to the IBM Connections API. More specifically: I wanted to show and create activities based on some user input.

The Connections API is pretty complex, so I normally run some ‘manual’ tests first based on the documentation, and then use those result to write the code to call the API. My preferred application for that is Postman.

While running the tests in Postman I ran into a big issue. All GET and PUT requests came through fine, but I wasn’t able to create anything using a POST request to the API: every request I made returned a 403 error:

<error xmlns="http://www.ibm.com/xmlns/prod/sn">
<code>403</code>
<message>You are not authorized to perform the requested action.</message>
<trace></trace>
</error>

The funny thing was that using the same credentials, I could create items using the web interface just fine. My first thought was that it must be some strange access control setting hidden away deep in a config file (“don’t allow users to create stuff using the API”), but then I found someone with a similar issue on StackOverflow. And I found this IBM Technote. So, apparently there’s something fishy going on with Postman.

So by enabling the Chrome Developer tools for Postman, I was able to look at the exact HTTP request that Postman sends. And I found the Origin header that was already mentioned in the StackOverflow post:

Origin: chrome-extension://fhbjgbiflinjbdggehcddcbncdddomop

Turns out that IBM Connections doesn’t really like that. That’s by design and has something to do with cross-site request forgery.. Using a curl command I could easily bypass the header and confirm that it was indeed the cause of my problem.

So the only thing left (since I like testing with Postman), was to figure out how to change that Origin header. The header is one of the ‘restricted’ headers that is automatically added by the browser (Chrome) and can’t be easily changed. Luckily, the people at Postman also thought of that and created the “Postman Interceptor“: a Chrome extension that sits as a sort of proxy between your Postman requests. After enabling that in Postman I was able to change the Origin header of my requests. I set it to the hostname of the IBM Connections server and voila: happy times!

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    2 thoughts on “Getting the IBM Connections API to play nice with Postman/ Chrome

      1. Hi Bernd,

        I wasn’t using Connections Cloud, but an on-premises installation of Connections. I was able to get it working by setting the Origin header to the hostname of the server.

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