Article version: GitHub.com

Resources in the REST API

Learn how to navigate the resources provided by the GitHub API.

In this article

This describes the resources that make up the official GitHub REST API. If you have any problems or requests, please contact GitHub Support or GitHub Premium Support.

Current version

By default, all requests to https://api.github.com receive the v3 version of the REST API. We encourage you to explicitly request this version via the Accept header.

Accept: application/vnd.github.v3+json

For information about GitHub's GraphQL API, see the v4 documentation. For information about migrating to GraphQL, see "Migrating from REST."

Schema

All API access is over HTTPS, and accessed from https://api.github.com. All data is sent and received as JSON.

$ curl -i https://api.github.com/users/octocat/orgs

> HTTP/1.1 200 OK
> Server: nginx
> Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2012 23:33:14 GMT
> Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
> Connection: keep-alive
> Status: 200 OK
> ETag: "a00049ba79152d03380c34652f2cb612"
> X-GitHub-Media-Type: github.v3
> X-RateLimit-Limit: 5000
> X-RateLimit-Remaining: 4987
> X-RateLimit-Reset: 1350085394
> Content-Length: 5
> Cache-Control: max-age=0, private, must-revalidate
> X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff

Blank fields are included as null instead of being omitted.

All timestamps return in ISO 8601 format:

YYYY-MM-DDTHH:MM:SSZ

For more information about timezones in timestamps, see this section.

Summary representations

When you fetch a list of resources, the response includes a subset of the attributes for that resource. This is the "summary" representation of the resource. (Some attributes are computationally expensive for the API to provide. For performance reasons, the summary representation excludes those attributes. To obtain those attributes, fetch the "detailed" representation.)

Example: When you get a list of repositories, you get the summary representation of each repository. Here, we fetch the list of repositories owned by the octokit organization:

GET /orgs/octokit/repos

Detailed representations

When you fetch an individual resource, the response typically includes all attributes for that resource. This is the "detailed" representation of the resource. (Note that authorization sometimes influences the amount of detail included in the representation.)

Example: When you get an individual repository, you get the detailed representation of the repository. Here, we fetch the octokit/octokit.rb repository:

GET /repos/octokit/octokit.rb

The documentation provides an example response for each API method. The example response illustrates all attributes that are returned by that method.

Authentication

There are two ways to authenticate through GitHub API v3. Requests that require authentication will return 404 Not Found, instead of 403 Forbidden, in some places. This is to prevent the accidental leakage of private repositories to unauthorized users.

Basic authentication

$ curl -u "username" https://api.github.com

OAuth2 token (sent in a header)

$ curl -H "Authorization: token OAUTH-TOKEN" https://api.github.com

Note: GitHub recommends sending OAuth tokens using the Authorization header.

Read more about OAuth2. Note that OAuth2 tokens can be acquired using the web application flow for production applications.

OAuth2 key/secret

Deprecation Notice: GitHub will discontinue authentication to the API using query parameters. Authenticating to the API should be done with HTTP basic authentication. Using query parameters to authenticate to the API will no longer work on May 5, 2021. For more information, including scheduled brownouts, see the blog post.

curl -u my_client_id:my_client_secret 'https://api.github.com/user/repos'

Using your client_id and client_secret does not authenticate as a user, it will only identify your OAuth application to increase your rate limit. Permissions are only granted to users, not applications, and you will only get back data that an unauthenticated user would see. For this reason, you should only use the OAuth2 key/secret in server-to-server scenarios. Don't leak your OAuth application's client secret to your users.

Read more about unauthenticated rate limiting.

Failed login limit

Authenticating with invalid credentials will return 401 Unauthorized:

$ curl -i https://api.github.com -u foo:bar
> HTTP/1.1 401 Unauthorized

> {
>   "message": "Bad credentials",
>   "documentation_url": "https://developer.github.com/v3"
> }

After detecting several requests with invalid credentials within a short period, the API will temporarily reject all authentication attempts for that user (including ones with valid credentials) with 403 Forbidden:

$ curl -i https://api.github.com -u valid_username:valid_password
> HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden

> {
>   "message": "Maximum number of login attempts exceeded. Please try again later.",
>   "documentation_url": "https://developer.github.com/v3"
> }

Parameters

Many API methods take optional parameters. For GET requests, any parameters not specified as a segment in the path can be passed as an HTTP query string parameter:

$ curl -i "https://api.github.com/repos/vmg/redcarpet/issues?state=closed"

In this example, the 'vmg' and 'redcarpet' values are provided for the :owner and :repo parameters in the path while :state is passed in the query string.

For POST, PATCH, PUT, and DELETE requests, parameters not included in the URL should be encoded as JSON with a Content-Type of 'application/json':

$ curl -i -u username -d '{"scopes":["public_repo"]}' https://api.github.com/authorizations

Root endpoint

You can issue a GET request to the root endpoint to get all the endpoint categories that the REST API supports:

$ curl https://api.github.com

GraphQL global node IDs

See the guide on "Using Global Node IDs" for detailed information about how to find node_ids via the REST API and use them in GraphQL operations.

Client errors

There are three possible types of client errors on API calls that receive request bodies:

  1. Sending invalid JSON will result in a 400 Bad Request response.

    HTTP/1.1 400 Bad Request
    Content-Length: 35
    
    {"message":"Problems parsing JSON"}
    
  2. Sending the wrong type of JSON values will result in a 400 Bad Request response.

     HTTP/1.1 400 Bad Request
     Content-Length: 40
    
     {"message":"Body should be a JSON object"}
    
  3. Sending invalid fields will result in a 422 Unprocessable Entity response.

     HTTP/1.1 422 Unprocessable Entity
     Content-Length: 149
    
     {
       "message": "Validation Failed",
       "errors": [
         {
           "resource": "Issue",
           "field": "title",
           "code": "missing_field"
         }
       ]
     }
    

All error objects have resource and field properties so that your client can tell what the problem is. There's also an error code to let you know what is wrong with the field. These are the possible validation error codes:

Error code nameDescription
missingA resource does not exist.
missing_fieldA required field on a resource has not been set.
invalidThe formatting of a field is invalid. Review the documentation for the for more specific information.
already_existsAnother resource has the same value as this field. This can happen in resources that must have some unique key (such as label names).
unprocessableThe inputs provided were invalid.

Resources may also send custom validation errors (where code is custom). Custom errors will always have a message field describing the error, and most errors will also include a documentation_url field pointing to some content that might help you resolve the error.

HTTP redirects

API v3 uses HTTP redirection where appropriate. Clients should assume that any request may result in a redirection. Receiving an HTTP redirection is not an error and clients should follow that redirect. Redirect responses will have a Location header field which contains the URI of the resource to which the client should repeat the requests.

Status CodeDescription
301Permanent redirection. The URI you used to make the request has been superseded by the one specified in the Location header field. This and all future requests to this resource should be directed to the new URI.
302, 307Temporary redirection. The request should be repeated verbatim to the URI specified in the Location header field but clients should continue to use the original URI for future requests.

Other redirection status codes may be used in accordance with the HTTP 1.1 spec.

HTTP verbs

Where possible, API v3 strives to use appropriate HTTP verbs for each action.

VerbDescription
HEADCan be issued against any resource to get just the HTTP header info.
GETUsed for retrieving resources.
POSTUsed for creating resources.
PATCHUsed for updating resources with partial JSON data. For instance, an Issue resource has title and body attributes. A PATCH request may accept one or more of the attributes to update the resource. PATCH is a relatively new and uncommon HTTP verb, so resource endpoints also accept POST requests.
PUTUsed for replacing resources or collections. For PUT requests with no body attribute, be sure to set the Content-Length header to zero.
DELETEUsed for deleting resources.

Hypermedia

All resources may have one or more *_url properties linking to other resources. These are meant to provide explicit URLs so that proper API clients don't need to construct URLs on their own. It is highly recommended that API clients use these. Doing so will make future upgrades of the API easier for developers. All URLs are expected to be proper RFC 6570 URI templates.

You can then expand these templates using something like the uri_template gem:

>> tmpl = URITemplate.new('/notifications{?since,all,participating}')
>> tmpl.expand
=> "/notifications"

>> tmpl.expand :all => 1
=> "/notifications?all=1"

>> tmpl.expand :all => 1, :participating => 1
=> "/notifications?all=1&participating=1"

Pagination

Requests that return multiple items will be paginated to 30 items by default. You can specify further pages with the ?page parameter. For some resources, you can also set a custom page size up to 100 with the ?per_page parameter. Note that for technical reasons not all endpoints respect the ?per_page parameter, see events for example.

$ curl 'https://api.github.com/user/repos?page=2&per_page=100'

Note that page numbering is 1-based and that omitting the ?page parameter will return the first page.

For more information on pagination, check out our guide on Traversing with Pagination.

Note: It's important to form calls with Link header values instead of constructing your own URLs.

The Link header includes pagination information:

Link: <https://api.github.com/user/repos?page=3&per_page=100>; rel="next",
  <https://api.github.com/user/repos?page=50&per_page=100>; rel="last"

The example includes a line break for readability.

This Link response header contains one or more Hypermedia link relations, some of which may require expansion as URI templates.

The possible rel values are:

NameDescription
nextThe link relation for the immediate next page of results.
lastThe link relation for the last page of results.
firstThe link relation for the first page of results.
prevThe link relation for the immediate previous page of results.

Rate limiting

For API requests using Basic Authentication or OAuth, you can make up to 5,000 requests per hour. Authenticated requests are associated with the authenticated user, regardless of whether Basic Authentication or an OAuth token was used. This means that all OAuth applications authorized by a user share the same quota of 5,000 requests per hour when they authenticate with different tokens owned by the same user.

For users that belong to a GitHub Enterprise Cloud account, requests made using an OAuth token to resources owned by the same GitHub Enterprise Cloud account have an increased limit of 15,000 requests per hour.

For unauthenticated requests, the rate limit allows for up to 60 requests per hour. Unauthenticated requests are associated with the originating IP address, and not the user making requests.

Note that the Search API has custom rate limit rules.

The returned HTTP headers of any API request show your current rate limit status:

$ curl -i https://api.github.com/users/octocat
> HTTP/1.1 200 OK
> Date: Mon, 01 Jul 2013 17:27:06 GMT
> Status: 200 OK
> X-RateLimit-Limit: 60
> X-RateLimit-Remaining: 56
> X-RateLimit-Reset: 1372700873
Header NameDescription
X-RateLimit-LimitThe maximum number of requests you're permitted to make per hour.
X-RateLimit-RemainingThe number of requests remaining in the current rate limit window.
X-RateLimit-ResetThe time at which the current rate limit window resets in UTC epoch seconds.

If you need the time in a different format, any modern programming language can get the job done. For example, if you open up the console on your web browser, you can easily get the reset time as a JavaScript Date object.

new Date(1372700873 * 1000)
// => Mon Jul 01 2013 13:47:53 GMT-0400 (EDT)

If you exceed the rate limit, an error response returns:

> HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden
> Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2013 14:50:41 GMT
> Status: 403 Forbidden
> X-RateLimit-Limit: 60
> X-RateLimit-Remaining: 0
> X-RateLimit-Reset: 1377013266

> {
>    "message": "API rate limit exceeded for xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx. (But here's the good news: Authenticated requests get a higher rate limit. Check out the documentation for more details.)",
>    "documentation_url": "https://developer.github.com/v3/#rate-limiting"
> }

You can check your rate limit status without incurring an API hit.

Increasing the unauthenticated rate limit for OAuth applications

If your OAuth application needs to make unauthenticated calls with a higher rate limit, you can pass your app's client ID and secret before the endpoint route.

$ curl -u my_client_id:my_client_secret https://api.github.com/user/repos
> HTTP/1.1 200 OK
> Date: Mon, 01 Jul 2013 17:27:06 GMT
> Status: 200 OK
> X-RateLimit-Limit: 5000
> X-RateLimit-Remaining: 4966
> X-RateLimit-Reset: 1372700873

Note: Never share your client secret with anyone or include it in client-side browser code. Use the method shown here only for server-to-server calls.

Staying within the rate limit

If you exceed your rate limit using Basic Authentication or OAuth, you can likely fix the issue by caching API responses and using conditional requests.

Abuse rate limits

In order to provide quality service on GitHub, additional rate limits may apply to some actions when using the API. For example, using the API to rapidly create content, poll aggressively instead of using webhooks, make multiple concurrent requests, or repeatedly request data that is computationally expensive may result in abuse rate limiting.

Abuse rate limits are not intended to interfere with legitimate use of the API. Your normal rate limits should be the only limit you target. To ensure you're acting as a good API citizen, check out our Best Practices guidelines.

If your application triggers this rate limit, you'll receive an informative response:

> HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden
> Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
> Connection: close

> {
>   "message": "You have triggered an abuse detection mechanism and have been temporarily blocked from content creation. Please retry your request again later.",
>   "documentation_url": "https://developer.github.com/v3/#abuse-rate-limits"
> }

User agent required

All API requests MUST include a valid User-Agent header. Requests with no User-Agent header will be rejected. We request that you use your GitHub username, or the name of your application, for the User-Agent header value. This allows us to contact you if there are problems.

Here's an example:

User-Agent: Awesome-Octocat-App

cURL sends a valid User-Agent header by default. If you provide an invalid User-Agent header via cURL (or via an alternative client), you will receive a 403 Forbidden response:

$ curl -iH 'User-Agent: ' https://api.github.com/meta
> HTTP/1.0 403 Forbidden
> Connection: close
> Content-Type: text/html

> Request forbidden by administrative rules.
> Please make sure your request has a User-Agent header.
> Check  for other possible causes.

Conditional requests

Most responses return an ETag header. Many responses also return a Last-Modified header. You can use the values of these headers to make subsequent requests to those resources using the If-None-Match and If-Modified-Since headers, respectively. If the resource has not changed, the server will return a 304 Not Modified.

Note: Making a conditional request and receiving a 304 response does not count against your Rate Limit, so we encourage you to use it whenever possible.

$ curl -i https://api.github.com/user
> HTTP/1.1 200 OK
> Cache-Control: private, max-age=60
> ETag: "644b5b0155e6404a9cc4bd9d8b1ae730"
> Last-Modified: Thu, 05 Jul 2012 15:31:30 GMT
> Status: 200 OK
> Vary: Accept, Authorization, Cookie
> X-RateLimit-Limit: 5000
> X-RateLimit-Remaining: 4996
> X-RateLimit-Reset: 1372700873

$ curl -i https://api.github.com/user -H 'If-None-Match: "644b5b0155e6404a9cc4bd9d8b1ae730"'
> HTTP/1.1 304 Not Modified
> Cache-Control: private, max-age=60
> ETag: "644b5b0155e6404a9cc4bd9d8b1ae730"
> Last-Modified: Thu, 05 Jul 2012 15:31:30 GMT
> Status: 304 Not Modified
> Vary: Accept, Authorization, Cookie
> X-RateLimit-Limit: 5000
> X-RateLimit-Remaining: 4996
> X-RateLimit-Reset: 1372700873

$ curl -i https://api.github.com/user -H "If-Modified-Since: Thu, 05 Jul 2012 15:31:30 GMT"
> HTTP/1.1 304 Not Modified
> Cache-Control: private, max-age=60
> Last-Modified: Thu, 05 Jul 2012 15:31:30 GMT
> Status: 304 Not Modified
> Vary: Accept, Authorization, Cookie
> X-RateLimit-Limit: 5000
> X-RateLimit-Remaining: 4996
> X-RateLimit-Reset: 1372700873

Cross origin resource sharing

The API supports Cross Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) for AJAX requests from any origin. You can read the CORS W3C Recommendation, or this intro from the HTML 5 Security Guide.

Here's a sample request sent from a browser hitting http://example.com:

$ curl -i https://api.github.com -H "Origin: http://example.com"
HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Access-Control-Allow-Origin: *
Access-Control-Expose-Headers: ETag, Link, X-GitHub-OTP, X-RateLimit-Limit, X-RateLimit-Remaining, X-RateLimit-Reset, X-OAuth-Scopes, X-Accepted-OAuth-Scopes, X-Poll-Interval

This is what the CORS preflight request looks like:

$ curl -i https://api.github.com -H "Origin: http://example.com" -X OPTIONS
HTTP/1.1 204 No Content
Access-Control-Allow-Origin: *
Access-Control-Allow-Headers: Authorization, Content-Type, If-Match, If-Modified-Since, If-None-Match, If-Unmodified-Since, X-GitHub-OTP, X-Requested-With
Access-Control-Allow-Methods: GET, POST, PATCH, PUT, DELETE
Access-Control-Expose-Headers: ETag, Link, X-GitHub-OTP, X-RateLimit-Limit, X-RateLimit-Remaining, X-RateLimit-Reset, X-OAuth-Scopes, X-Accepted-OAuth-Scopes, X-Poll-Interval
Access-Control-Max-Age: 86400

JSON-P callbacks

You can send a ?callback parameter to any GET call to have the results wrapped in a JSON function. This is typically used when browsers want to embed GitHub content in web pages by getting around cross domain issues. The response includes the same data output as the regular API, plus the relevant HTTP Header information.

$ curl https://api.github.com?callback=foo

> /**/foo({
>   "meta": {
>     "status": 200,
>     "X-RateLimit-Limit": "5000",
>     "X-RateLimit-Remaining": "4966",
>     "X-RateLimit-Reset": "1372700873",
>     "Link": [ // pagination headers and other links
>       ["https://api.github.com?page=2", {"rel": "next"}]
>     ]
>   },
>   "data": {
>     // the data
>   }
> })

You can write a JavaScript handler to process the callback. Here's a minimal example you can try out:

<html>
<head>
<script type="text/javascript">
function foo(response) {
  var meta = response.meta;
  var data = response.data;
  console.log(meta);
  console.log(data);
}

var script = document.createElement('script');
script.src = 'https://api.github.com?callback=foo';

document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0].appendChild(script);
</script>
</head>

<body>
  <p>Open up your browser's console.</p>
</body>
</html>

All of the headers are the same String value as the HTTP Headers with one notable exception: Link. Link headers are pre-parsed for you and come through as an array of [url, options] tuples.

A link that looks like this:

Link: <url1>; rel="next", <url2>; rel="foo"; bar="baz"

... will look like this in the Callback output:

{
  "Link": [
    [
      "url1",
      {
        "rel": "next"
      }
    ],
    [
      "url2",
      {
        "rel": "foo",
        "bar": "baz"
      }
    ]
  ]
}

Timezones

Some requests that create new data, such as creating a new commit, allow you to provide time zone information when specifying or generating timestamps. We apply the following rules, in order of priority, to determine timezone information for API calls.

Explicitly providing an ISO 8601 timestamp with timezone information

For API calls that allow for a timestamp to be specified, we use that exact timestamp. An example of this is the Commits API.

These timestamps look something like 2014-02-27T15:05:06+01:00. Also see this example for how these timestamps can be specified.

Using the Time-Zone header

It is possible to supply a Time-Zone header which defines a timezone according to the list of names from the Olson database.

$ curl -H "Time-Zone: Europe/Amsterdam" -X POST https://api.github.com/repos/github/linguist/contents/new_file.md

This means that we generate a timestamp for the moment your API call is made in the timezone this header defines. For example, the Contents API generates a git commit for each addition or change and uses the current time as the timestamp. This header will determine the timezone used for generating that current timestamp.

Using the last known timezone for the user

If no Time-Zone header is specified and you make an authenticated call to the API, we use the last known timezone for the authenticated user. The last known timezone is updated whenever you browse the GitHub website.

Defaulting to UTC without other timezone information

If the steps above don't result in any information, we use UTC as the timezone to create the git commit.

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