Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Tutorial 2 Part 2 Facebook API

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So, now that we have learned the basics of the graph API using this graph API explorer,

we will now learn how to collect data programmatically. Now one problem in doing this is the lifetime

of the access tokens that we are using. If you recall in the last video we discussed

that it is essential to have an access token in order to collect data from the graph API.

One thing we did not really pay attention to was that these tokens have a very short

life span.

For example, if you open this access token in the access token debugger tool,

you will notice that this token expires in 38 minutes, which means that if you make a

request to the Graph API using this particular token after 38 minutes, the API will not return

any data, instead it will return an error saying that this token is invalid or expired.

If you intend to collect data programmatically for a prolonged period of time, you cannot

keep on generating a new token manually after every one or two hours and put it in the code.

So, Facebook provides a way to extend the validity of these tokens, but for that you

need to create an app of your own.

To create an app, you need to first register yourself as a developer; click on the blue

register button on the top right of the page.

Facebook will ask you to reenter your password.

So, enter your password.

Click on this button to accept the privacy policy and click next.

Now in order to successfully register yourself as a developer, you need to register a phone

number with your account. So put in your phone number.

Then click on theSend as Textbutton, you will receive a SMS with a confirmation


Put in this confirmation code in the designated box, and clickRegister’.

Once you register successfully, you will notice that the blue register button is now gone.

And there is My Apps drop down menu in place of that register button. Click on this drop

down and selectAdd a New App’.

Select the platform to beWebsiteoption with the www.

Add a name for the app you want to create, let us say, test underscore nptel.

And click create new Facebook App ID. You need to assign a category to this app.

Let us say education, then put in your email id and clickCreate App ID’.

Our security check will pop up here. So, follow the instructions on the top. So, it saysselect

all wristwatchesin this case. Select the appropriate images and submit.

So, the APP has now been created.

Scroll down a bit. The page will ask you for your website. It does not really matter. Just

putting any valid URL will work.

Let us say http Then click next and scroll down.

And that is it. We have completed the APP creation process.

Now, when you click onMy Appson the top right corner, you will see this page showing

your APP name and ID.

Click on the APP name to open the apps settings page.

Now click on thisShowbutton to reveal the app secret code. Now, we will use these

two objectsApp IDandApp Secretto extend the validity of our access token.

Open a new tab and open the Graph API explorer again. In another tab, open the Graph API

documentation page which talks about access tokens. If you just search for access token

in the documentation, you will easily find this page.

Go to thisExpiration and Extension of Access Tokenssection, scroll down a bit.

And you will see the format of the GET request that you need to make to extend the access


Now, if you notice, we need three things to make this request.

The client id.

Client secret.

And a short-lived token.

The client id and client secret are the same as the APP ID and APP Secret that we just

obtained in the last screen when we created the APP test nptel.

Now, let us get the short-lived token. Go back to the Graph API explorer, select the

test underscore nptel app that you just created from the applications drop down menu.

Click on get token, get user token.

Again select any permission, say email, and clickGet Access Token’.

And you have this short lived access token generated using your own test underscore nptel

APP. Again if you open this access token in the access token tool.

You will see that this token also expires in about an hour.

So, now we have all the three components that are needed to get an extended access token.

So now, open a new tab and type in http oauth slash access underscore token question

mark grant underscore type is equal to fb underscore exchange underscore token and client

underscore id is equal to the App ID.

And client underscore secret is equal to the APP secret

and fb underscore exchange underscore token is equal to the short token that we just generated.

And press enter.

So this request needs to be made using https, so just add https in the beginning in the

address bar and press enter and here you go. We have successfully generated an extended

access token.

Now copy this access token, starting after the access underscore token is equal to part,

until just before the ampersand sign.

Copy this token. Paste it in the Graph API explorer, and open the access token tool.

So, you see here that this token is valid for two months

If you go back to the documentation, this is where the documentation page also says

that the extended token is good for about 60 days. So, now that we have a token that

does not expire for 60 days, we are all set to write our program to collect data from

the Graph API.

To do this we will use the terminal in python, which we learnt in the previous tutorial.

So open the terminal and create a new python script using the vi editor. Let us say facebook

underscore data dot py.

We start by importing the requests library that we saw in the previous tutorial. If you

recall, requests is the python library, which is used to make http requests. Now we define

a new function, say, get underscore page underscore data, which takes one parameter, which is

the page id. The beginning of the function body is indicated by a colon sign. Now python

is an indentation base language, so to define a code block within a function, we will add

an indentation level to the entire body of the function. This is equivalent to the curly

braces in C or C++. Just like the body of a function is defined within curly braces

in C; in python, the function body is defined within an indentation level. Once you get

back to a lower indentation level, you exit the function body. So we press tab to create

an indentation level, and start defining the function body.

We first define a variable which will contain the URL that we would send the request to.

So, we say URL is equal to http graph, no, https graph dot facebook dot com slash the

page id converted into string format - you can simply use plus sign to concatenate strings

in python - slash feet question mark limit is equal to one hundred and access token is

equal to access underscore token. Now we need to define this access underscore token variable

before we can use it. So, we say access underscore token is equal to

this extended token that we just generated.

Now we say data is equal to requests dot get URL. So, we are just sending a get request

to this URL and storing the response in a variable name data. Now we need a text part

of this response, which will contain the data returned by the Graph API. So, we store the

text part of the data in another variable called the response. And we say, print response.

And we get back to our original indentation level indicating the end of the function body.

Now, to call this function, we type the function name followed by parenthesis.

And will add the page id parameter in the parenthesis, that we are supposed to pass

to this function. So we go back to the explorer, search for NPTEL pages again, get the page

ID of the second result, copy it, and pasted in the quote.

Now we write this file and quit the editor by pressing escape colon wq enter.

Now to execute this code, type python space facebook underscore data dot p y and press


And you get the entire data written in a JSON format. This is exactly the same response

you saw from the Graph API explorer, except that this has no line breaks, so it is harder

to understand in this format.

Now to be able to read this data more efficiently, we will make use of the JSON library for python,

which is used to pass JSON objects, if we remember we discuss that the graph API written

data in JSON format. So, you type import j s o n. In most cases, this library comes preinstalled

in python; if you do not have this library installed, you will see an error message saying

no module namejsonwhen you run the code.

You can install this library using pip that we discussed in the first tutorial. Just type

sudo pip install json in the terminal and the library will be installed. So, we now

load response text in JSON format using json dot loads data dot text and print the information

present in the data field of the JSON response. So, the JSON format is essentially a key value

pair based format, where the key is the name of the field and the value is the information

present in this field. So, when we say response with this string data in square braces, the

data here is the key and the values is all the post preset in this field.

Now notice that the content present in the data field is a list which is similar to an

array in C or C++.

So let us print the 0th element of this list, which is the post. So, there you go.

This prints the first post exactly as we just saw in the Graph API explorer. Now, let us

try to query the version 2.0 of the API to get more details as we did using the explorer.

So, we add v 2.0 slash just before the page id in the URL.

And run the code again. So, the response received is exactly the same as you got in version

2.6, no extra information was returned.

Now why is that? If you go back to the explorer, you notice that now in the version drop down

there are no old versions of the API available.

This is because when you create a new app, this new app does not have access to any older

versions of the API beyond the current version. So, in this case, since version 2.6 is the

current version and our APP was created after the version 2.6 was released, our APP does

not have access to any API version before version 2.6. Remember that the APP you were

using in the beginning was the Graph API explorer APP which was created long ago by Facebook

itself, so it has access to all the older versions of the API.

So, let us try to iterate over of the posts in the data list returned by the API. We will

use the for loop in python for doing this. So, we say for post in response, square braces,

data colon. So, now, we create a new indentation level to define the body of for loop, just

like we did for the function. And we say print post square braces message.

Now what this loop will do is it will go over every element or post in the data list one

by one and assign the element to this variable named post. So, when we are inside the loop,

this post variable will be storing the current element being iterated by the loop. So, the

contents of this post variable will be updated upon each iteration of theforloop.

And we will print the value corresponding to the message key present in the post in

each iteration until all the post has been iterated over. We print a couple of new line

characters to differentiate between the different posts.

Now let us run this code. So, you see all the messages printed separated by two blank


Now let us learn how to handle the API response, when the results are returned in multiple

pages. If you remember, we saw in the first tutorial that if the number of results are

greater than a certain limit, the API is also returns a URL to the next page of the results

which you need to visit in order to get the complete results. So, let us reduce this limit

to say 20, so that we will get 20 results in each page. We already saw that the NPTEL

page we are querying had about 65 posts in total.

So, if we set the limit to 20, we will get results in four pages, the first three pages

containing 20 results each, that is 60, and the fourth page containing five posts, totaling

to 65. So what we need to do is to create a loop which will keep a track of the next

page URL, and keep on querying the next page as long as needed; until the point where the

API response does not contain a next page URL anymore. So, we say next underscore page

is equal to response paging next.

So, if you notice in the response, there is this key called paging. Inside the paging

there are again two keys previous and next. And the value corresponding to the next key

is what we need. So, we keep on visiting this next page until the API response does not

contain any paging key.

Notice that the data key is still present, but it is an empty list now, meaning we have

run out of responses. We saw only three pages here since a limit was set to 25 by default.

So, the first two pages contained 25, 25 posts that is 50, and the third page contained the

remaining fifteen total into 65, and this last page is empty.

So, we pick up the next page URL in the first page of the results; let us move this after

the print statement. And we say while next underscore page colon and we begin another

loop, a while loop this time. So, this loop will keep running as long as the next page

variable has something in it, meaning as long as it is not blank or null. And inside this

loop we send a get request to this next URL, and store the response in a variable named

response. So, we are just over writing the response with the contents of this next page.

Lets just add a debug print statement, when the loop begins, found next page. So,

every time this loop executes, this message saying that we found a next page will be printed.

Let us comment out the earlier print statements to avoid confusion.

And now we will check, if this new response that we got has a key named paging in it.

So, we say if paging in response, now inside this if, we again need to check if there is

a next key present in paging. Sometimes, it may happen that there is a paging key, but

it only has a previous page and no next page. So, we cannot just rely on the paging key

alone. So, inside this if block, we again check if next in response paging; and if both

the above conditions hold true, we know that there is a next page. So, we update the value

of this next underscore page variable with the next page URL. So, next underscore page

is equal to response paging next. Now what happens if there is no next page,

so we say else print next not found. And we say next underscore page is equal to none

with a capital N. We update the value of the next underscore page variable to None, which

is the same as null in C or C++. So, if this happens, the condition in the while loop will

become false and as we discussed, the loop will break in the next iteration if the next

underscore page field is blank or null, as we just defined. Similarly, if there is no

paging key in response, we create an else block corresponding to the outer if block.

And print paging not found, and again update the next underscore page variable to none.

So, let us save this file, exit the editor and run this code. Clear the terminal. python

space facebook underscore data dot py, enter, OK. So, there is an error on line 16, so we

forgot to add the dot text part in the get request inside the while loop.

So we add dot text, save.

And run the code again. Clear buffer, python space facebook underscore data dot py, enter.

So, there you go, we found four pages as we just discussed, and the fifth page did not

contain any paging key as we expected which made the while loop break. So, now, we have

also learnt how to handle paging using python.

As one last exercise let us see how to collect likes on a post through python. So, we pick

up the id of the first post that appears in the results

post underscore id is equal to response, data, 0, id. And we define a variable containing

the URL for getting likes, likes underscore URL is equal to https graph dot facebook dot

com slash post id slash likes question mark limit is equal to 100 and access underscore

token is equal to the access token. Let us print the post id too. And let us just directly

print the response. We say print requests dot get likes underscore URL dot text. And

let us add an exit statement just after this; we do not need the rest of the code to execute.

So, the program will just exit after this print statement.

Save and exit the editor, clear the terminal.

And python space facebook underscore data dot p y enter. And you see the post id of

the first post followed by the likes. To verify these results just copy this post id.

Go back to the graph API explorer and paste it in the query bar followed by slash likes,

press enter.

The same results show up here as well. So, in this tutorial, we learnt the basics of

the Facebook Graph API from scratch, and saw how to collect data from API programmatically

using python. In the next tutorial, we will learn how to collect from Twitter and see

how to store data in databases. Thanks.

The Description of Tutorial 2 Part 2 Facebook API