NetBox v2.0 and later includes a full-featured REST API that allows its data model to be read and manipulated externally.

What is a REST API?

REST stands for representational state transfer. It's a particular type of API which employs HTTP to create, retrieve, update, and delete objects from a database. (This set of operations is commonly referred to as CRUD.) Each type of operation is associated with a particular HTTP verb:

  • GET: Retrieve an object or list of objects
  • POST: Create an object
  • PUT / PATCH: Modify an existing object
  • DELETE: Delete an existing object

The NetBox API represents all objects in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON). This makes it very easy to interact with NetBox data on the command line with common tools. For example, we can request an IP address from NetBox and output the JSON using curl and jq. (Piping the output through jq isn't strictly required but makes it much easier to read.)

$ curl -s http://localhost:8000/api/ipam/ip-addresses/2954/ | jq '.'
{
  "custom_fields": {},
  "nat_outside": null,
  "nat_inside": null,
  "description": "An example IP address",
  "id": 2954,
  "family": 4,
  "address": "5.101.108.132/26",
  "vrf": null,
  "tenant": null,
  "status": {
    "label": "Active",
    "value": 1
  },
  "role": null,
  "interface": null
}

Each attribute of the NetBox object is expressed as a field in the dictionary. Fields may include their own nested objects, as in the case of the status field above. Every object includes a primary key named id which uniquely identifies it in the database.

URL Hierarchy

NetBox's entire API is housed under the API root at https://<hostname>/api/. The URL structure is divided at the root level by application: circuits, DCIM, extras, IPAM, secrets, and tenancy. Within each application, each model has its own path. For example, the provider and circuit objects are located under the "circuits" application:

  • /api/circuits/providers/
  • /api/circuits/circuits/

Likewise, the site, rack, and device objects are located under the "DCIM" application:

  • /api/dcim/sites/
  • /api/dcim/racks/
  • /api/dcim/devices/

The full hierarchy of available endpoints can be viewed by navigating to the API root in a web browser.

Each model generally has two views associated with it: a list view and a detail view. The list view is used to request a list of multiple objects or to create a new object. The detail view is used to retrieve, update, or delete an existing object. All objects are referenced by their numeric primary key (id).

  • /api/dcim/devices/ - List devices or create a new device
  • /api/dcim/devices/123/ - Retrieve, update, or delete the device with ID 123

Lists of objects can be filtered using a set of query parameters. For example, to find all interfaces belonging to the device with ID 123:

GET /api/dcim/interfaces/?device_id=123

Serialization

The NetBox API employs three types of serializers to represent model data:

  • Base serializer
  • Nested serializer
  • Writable serializer

The base serializer is used to represent the default view of a model. This includes all database table fields which comprise the model, and may include additional metadata. A base serializer includes relationships to parent objects, but does not include child objects. For example, the VLANSerializer includes a nested representation its parent VLANGroup (if any), but does not include any assigned Prefixes.

{
    "id": 1048,
    "site": {
        "id": 7,
        "url": "http://localhost:8000/api/dcim/sites/7/",
        "name": "Corporate HQ",
        "slug": "corporate-hq"
    },
    "group": {
        "id": 4,
        "url": "http://localhost:8000/api/ipam/vlan-groups/4/",
        "name": "Production",
        "slug": "production"
    },
    "vid": 101,
    "name": "Users-Floor1",
    "tenant": null,
    "status": [
        1,
        "Active"
    ],
    "role": {
        "id": 9,
        "url": "http://localhost:8000/api/ipam/roles/9/",
        "name": "User Access",
        "slug": "user-access"
    },
    "description": "",
    "display_name": "101 (Users-Floor1)",
    "custom_fields": {}
}

Related objects (e.g. ForeignKey fields) are represented using a nested serializer. A nested serializer provides a minimal representation of an object, including only its URL and enough information to construct its name.

When a base serializer includes one or more nested serializers, the hierarchical structure precludes it from being used for write operations. Thus, a flat representation of an object may be provided using a writable serializer. This serializer includes only raw database values and is not typically used for retrieval, except as part of the response to the creation or updating of an object.

{
    "id": 1201,
    "site": 7,
    "group": 4,
    "vid": 102,
    "name": "Users-Floor2",
    "tenant": null,
    "status": 1,
    "role": 9,
    "description": ""
}

Pagination

API responses which contain a list of objects (for example, a request to /api/dcim/devices/) will be paginated to avoid unnecessary overhead. The root JSON object will contain the following attributes:

  • count: The total count of all objects matching the query
  • next: A hyperlink to the next page of results (if applicable)
  • previous: A hyperlink to the previous page of results (if applicable)
  • results: The list of returned objects

Here is an example of a paginated response:

HTTP 200 OK
Allow: GET, POST, OPTIONS
Content-Type: application/json
Vary: Accept

{
    "count": 2861,
    "next": "http://localhost:8000/api/dcim/devices/?limit=50&offset=50",
    "previous": null,
    "results": [
        {
            "id": 123,
            "name": "DeviceName123",
            ...
        },
        ...
    ]
}

The default page size derives from the PAGINATE_COUNT configuration setting, which defaults to 50. However, this can be overridden per request by specifying the desired offset and limit query parameters. For example, if you wish to retrieve a hundred devices at a time, you would make a request for:

http://localhost:8000/api/dcim/devices/?limit=100

The response will return devices 1 through 100. The URL provided in the next attribute of the response will return devices 101 through 200:

{
    "count": 2861,
    "next": "http://localhost:8000/api/dcim/devices/?limit=100&offset=100",
    "previous": null,
    "results": [...]
}

The maximum number of objects that can be returned is limited by the MAX_PAGE_SIZE setting, which is 1000 by default. Setting this to 0 or None will remove the maximum limit. An API consumer can then pass ?limit=0 to retrieve all matching objects with a single request.

Warning

Disabling the page size limit introduces a potential for very resource-intensive requests, since one API request can effectively retrieve an entire table from the database.