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Everything to know about Requests v2.26.0

Seth Michael Larson
Blogging about Python and the Internet (He / Him)
・4 min read

This is a cross-post from my blog. If you enjoy my content you can subscribe via Email or RSS.

Requests v2.26.0 is a large release which changes and removes many features and dependencies that you should know about when upgrading.

Summary of the release

What changes are important?

  • Changed the requests[security] extra into a no-op. Can be safely removed for v2.24.0+ for almost all users (OpenSSL 1.1.1+ and not relying on specific features in pyOpenSSL)
  • Dropped support for Python 3.5
  • Changed encoding detection library for Python 3.6+ from chardet to charset_normalizer
  • Added support for Brotli compressed response bodies

What should you do now?

  • Upgrade to Requests v2.26.0 if you're not using Python 3.5 - Stop using requests[security] and instead install just requests
  • Regenerate your lock files and pinned dependencies if you're using pip-tools, poetry, or pipenv
  • Read the full set of changes for v2.26.0

Encoding detection with charset_normalizer

The following section has a brief discussion of licensing issues. Please remember that I am not a lawyer and don't claim to understand anything about open source licenses.

Requests uses character detection of response bodies in order to reliably decode bytes to str when responses don't define what encoding to use via Content-Type. This feature only gets used when you call the Response.text() API.

The library that Requests uses for content encoding detection has for the past 10 years been chardet which is licensed LGPL-2.1.

The LGPL-2.1 license is not a problem for almost all users, but an issue arises with statically linked Python applications which are pretty rare but becoming more common. When Requests is bundled with a static application users can no longer "switch out" chardet for a different library which causes a problem with LGPL.

Starting in v2.26.0 for Python 3 the new default library for encoding detection will be charset_normalizer which is MIT licensed. The library itself is relatively young so a lot of work has gone into making sure users aren't broken with this change including extensive tests against real-life websites and comparing the results against chardet to ensure better performance and accuracy in every case.

Requests will continue to use chardet if the library is installed in your environment. To take advantage of charset_normalizer you must uninstall chardet from your environment. If you want to continue using chardet with Requests on Python 3 you can install chardet or install Requests using requests[use_chardet_on_py3]:

$ python -m pip install requests chardet

- OR -

$ python -m pip install requests[use_chardet_on_py3]
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Removed the deprecated [security] extra

Before Requests v2.24.0 the pyOpenSSL implementation of TLS was used by default if it was available. This pyOpenSSL code is packaged along with urllib3 as a way to use Subject Name Identification (SNI) when Python was compiled against super-old OpenSSL versions that didn't support it yet.

Thankfully these super-old versions of OpenSSL aren't common at all anymore! So now that pyOpenSSL code that urllib3 provides is a lot less useful and now a maintenance burden for our team, so we now have a long-term plan to eventually remove this code. The biggest dependency using this code was Requests, a logical first place to start the journey.

Starting in Requests v2.24.0 pyOpenSSL wouldn't be used unless Python wasn't compiled with TLS support (ie, no ssl module) or if the OpenSSL version that Python was compiled against didn't support SNI. Basically the two rare scenarios where pyOpenSSL was actually useful!

The release of v2.24.0 came and went quietly which signaled to our team that our long-term plan of actually removing pyOpenSSL will likely go smoothly. So in Requests v2.25.0 we officially deprecated the requests[security] extra and in v2.26.0 the [security] extra will be a no-op. Instead of installing pyOpenSSL and cryptography no dependencies will be installed.

What this means for you is if you've got a list of dependencies that previously used requests[security] you can remove the [security] and only install requests. If you have a lock file via a tool like pip-tools or poetry you can regenerate the lock file and potentially see pyOpenSSL and cryptography removed from your lock file. Woo!

Dropped support for Python 3.5

Starting in Requests v2.25.0 there was a notice for Python 3.5's deprecation in the changelog. Now that 2.26.0 has arrived Requests will only be supported with Python 2.7.x and 3.6+.

This is a big win for Requests maintainers as it progressively becomes more and more difficult to maintain a codebase that supports a wide range of Python versions.

Brotli support via urllib3

Since v1.25 urllib3 has supported automatically decoding Brotli-compressed HTTP response bodies using either Google's brotli library or the brotlicffi library (previously named brotlipy).

Before v2.26.0 Requests would never emit an Accept-Encoding header with br signaling Brotli support even if urllib3 would have been able to decode the response. Now Requests will use urllib3's feature detection for Brotli and emit Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate, br. This is great news for servers that support Brotli on pre-compressed static resources like fonts, CSS, and JavaScript. Woo!

To take advantage of Brotli decoding you need to install one of the Brotli libraries mentioned above. You can ensure you're getting the right library for your Python implementation by installing like so:

$ python -m pip install urllib3[brotli]
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