Working with data files

Using data files is a powerful way to test the behavior of APIs with varying data in unexpected circumstances. We can think of data files as parameters for each iteration of a collection run.

Let’s walk through an example.

Getting started

Before we begin, download the collection and data files we’ll use in this example.

Importing sample files

To import the files in Postman, click the Import button in the header bar. In the IMPORT modal, select the sample files to upload.

import sample

You should see “Post Request” and “Using data files” in the sidebar as shown in the image below.

post request

Working with the sample files

Here, we have a simple collection with a single POST request. If you open up this request, you’ll see two variables used in the request, path (in the URL) & value in the request body.

Use these variables in the same way as environment variables. We’ll supply the value to these variables using the JSON and CSV files.

When you open the test script, you’ll see we’re using some variables in the test script -data specifically, which isn’t defined in the script itself.

The Postman Sandbox initializes the data variable from the JSON and CSV files that we’ll select in the collection run.

using the data variable

Let’s investigate the data files first. We currently support JSON and CSV files.

Here’s the JSON data file:

      "path": "post",
      "value": "1"
    }, {
      "path": "post",
      "value": "2"
    }, {
      "path": "post",
      "value": "3"
    }, {
      "path": "post",
      "value": "4"

The JSON file contains an array of objects. Each object represents the variable values for one iteration. Each member of this object represents a variable.

In this way, in the first iteration, the variable called path has the value post, and the variable value has the value 1. Similarly, in the second iteration, path is still post and value is 2. In this example, the variable path does not change its value over iterations, but value does. This is totally up to you.

The data file can also be a CSV. Here’s the JSON data file:

    path, value
    post, 1
    post, 2
    post, 3
    post, 4

In typical CSV fashion, the first row represents all variable names, and subsequent rows represent values for these variables for each iteration. For iteration 1, path has value post, and value is 1. For the second iteration, path is still post, but value is 2.

Note that you can only use one data file for one run.

Now that you understand how to construct data files, let’s supply this data file to a Collection Run.

Click “Select File” in the Runner, and select one of these files. You can also preview what values each variable has in each iteration by clicking “Preview” next to the file name.

collection runner view             

preview data

Let’s run our collection now. You’ll see that all tests pass now.

If you open up the request debug tooltip, and expand “Request Body”, you’ll see that the variable {{value}} was replaced by the value, as dictated by the data file.

Read more about debugging requests. In fact, for different iterations, this value is different. This way, we’ve thrown different kinds of data to our API and have ensured that it works correctly for each case.

request debug tooltip

Let’s also take a look at our test scripts once again. The variable data is a predefined variable that gets the values from the data file.

With each iteration, its value is updated with new data from our file. data is an object with all variables you defined in your file as its keys.

Since this API echoes back whatever is sent to it, we’re asserting that the returned value from Echo is the same as the one dictated by our file.

You can use data variables in all places and in the exact way you can use environment variables, except in pre-request and test scripts.

For more information about collection runs, see: