ServiceNow: SOAP Journal

Integration using Web Services

Monthly Archives: May 2013

Using SoapUI to test Web Services

SoapUI is a nifty tool for testing Web Services. I use it all the time.  It really helps you understand what is happening.  Check out this great video by John Andersen:


Perl Queries 101

This post is about using Perl to query data from ServiceNow.  Let us look at several solutions to a simple problem:  print a list of all the operational servers in your CMDB.

Solution 1

Here is our first solution. The getKeys method is called to obtain a list of sys_ids.  The split function converts the result from a string of comma separated values into an array.  A loop retrieves the records one at a time.  The code is nice and tight.  If you know SOAP::Lite, it may even make sense to you.

use SOAP::Lite;

sub SOAP::Transport::HTTP::Client::get_basic_credentials {
    return $username => $password;

my $soap = SOAP::Lite->
my $method = SOAP::Data->name("getKeys")->
    attr({xmlns => ""});
my @params = (SOAP::Data->name("operational_status" => "1"));
my $result = $soap->call($method => @params)->result;
my @serverKeys = split(",", $result);

foreach my $sys_id (@serverKeys) {
    my $method = SOAP::Data->name("get")->
        attr({xmlns => ""});
    my @params = (SOAP::Data->name("sys_id" => $sys_id));
    my $serverRec = $soap->call($method => @params)->body->{"getResponse"};
    print $serverRec->{name}, "\n";

The problem with Solution 1 is that it is very slow.  It performs a separate Web Service call for each server.

Solution 2

Solution 2 is much faster.  It uses a single getRecords call to retrieve all the servers.

use SOAP::Lite;

sub SOAP::Transport::HTTP::Client::get_basic_credentials {
    return $username => $password;

my $soap = SOAP::Lite->

my $method = SOAP::Data->name("getRecords")->
    attr({xmlns => ""});
my @params = (SOAP::Data->name("operational_status" => "1"));
my $som = $soap->call($method => @params);
my @serverData = @{$som->body->{getRecordsResponse}->{getRecordsResult}};

foreach my $serverRec (@serverData) {
    print $serverRec->{name}, "\n";

The problem with Solution 2 is that it only returns the first 250 servers.  For performance reasons, ServiceNow limits the number of records that can be returned in a single Web Services call.  If you have 1000  servers, you can read them all by adding __limit as an extended query parameter.  If you have 100,000 servers, there is no alternative other than to fetch the data in chunks.

Solution 3

The next solution uses the ServiceNow Perl API.

use ServiceNow;
use ServiceNow::Configuration;

my $config = ServiceNow::Configuration->new();


my $server = ServiceNow::GlideRecord->new($config, "cmdb_ci_server");
$server->addQuery("operational_status", "1");

while ($server->next()) {
    print $server->getValue("name"), "\n";

ServiceNow’s perl API is designed to mimic their JavaScript API. This code is much easier to read. But surprisingly, this API suffers from the same limitation as the previous solution. It only returns the first 250 records, and it gives no indication that there is more data which was not returned.

Solution 4

The last two examples use the ServiceNow::SOAP module, and adhere to ServiceNow’s best practice recommendation for retrieving a large number of records, which is to use the getKeys method from Solution 1 to obtain a list of sys_ids and then fetch the records in chunks using an __encoded_query of the form sys_idINvalue,value,value….

This is how ServiceNow::SOAP works:  The query method calls getKeys.  The fetch method calls getRecords to retrieve the next chunk of 250.

use ServiceNow::SOAP;

my $sn = ServiceNow("myinstance", $username, $password);
my $table = $sn->table("cmdb_ci_server");
my $query = $table->query("operational_status=1");
while (my @serverData = $query->fetch()) {
    foreach my $serverRec (@serverData) {
        print $serverRec->{name}, "\n";

Solution 5

The final example uses the fetchAll method, which simply internalizes the fetch loop.

use ServiceNow::SOAP;

my $sn = ServiceNow("myinstance", $username, $password);
my $table = $sn->table("cmdb_ci_server");
my @serverData = $table->query("operational_status=1")->fetchAll();

foreach my $serverRec (@serverData) {
    print $serverRec->{name}, "\n";


This post of May 2013 was updated in May 2015 to use ServiceNow::SOAP instead of AltServiceNow which has been abandoned.

The example of using __first_row and __last_row extended query parameters has been removed from this post. This approach is not recommended by ServiceNow for large tables, primarily because it suffers from performance degradation as the value of __first_row increases.

Time Zones and Date Formats

There is an inconsistent and somewhat unexpected behavior in how the Web Service API handles date-time fields.  This behavior is documented in the wiki:, and summarized as follows:

  • When reading data using Web Services:  all date and time fields are returned in GMT.
  • For updates, inserts and encoded queries:  date and time fields are assumed to be in local time.

To avoid time-zone problems, follow these two simple rules whenever using the Direct Web Services API.

  1. Create dedicated Web Services accounts in the sys_user table.  Do not use normal accounts which are assigned to real users.
  2. Set the time zone to GMT and the date format to yyyy-MM-dd for all Web Services accounts.

The inconsistent behavior is easily verified using a small perl script.  To reproduce the test, follow these instructions:

  1. Obtain a developer instance at
  2. Create a new user named “soap.test” with password “password”.
  3. Grant “soap.test” the following roles:
    • itil
    • soap_query_update
    • soap_create
  4. This script uses the ServiceNow::SOAP perl module.
  5. Edit the script, changing the instance to match your instance in step 1.
  6. Set the timezone for “soap.test” to anything other than GMT and run the script. Note that the dates do not match.
  7. Set the timezone for “soap.test” to GMT and run the script again.  Note that this time the dates match.
use strict;
use ServiceNow::SOAP;

my $instance = 'devxxxxx';
my $username = 'soap.test';
my $password = 'password';

my $sn = ServiceNow($instance, $username, $password);

# insert a change_request
my $change_request = $sn->table('change_request');

my $start_date = "2015-06-01 12:00:00";

my %result = $change_request->insert(
    short_description => 'Timezone change_request test',
    start_date => $start_date

my $sys_id = $result{sys_id};
my $number = $result{number};

print "inserted number=$number sys_id=$sys_id\n";

# read the record back
my $newrec = $change_request->getRecord($sys_id);

# compare the times
print "expected start_date=", $start_date, "\n";
print "actual   start_date=", $newrec->{start_date}, "\n";

Note: This post from May 2013 was updated in May 2015 to use ServiceNow::SOAP.