Chicago Python Workshop/Projects/Twitter

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Project

Use the Twitter API to write the basic parts of a Twitter client. See what your friends are tweeting, get trending topics, search tweets, and more!

Goals

  • Have fun playing with data from Twitter.
  • See how easy it is to programmatically gather data from social websites that have APIs.
  • Get experience with command line option parsing and passing data to a Python script.
  • Get experience reading other people's code.

Project steps

1. Read through and understand search

  1. Open a terminal and navigate to the directory where you extracted Twitter.zip. If you need a reminder for how to open a terminal and navigate to a directory, follow the [setup goal] from Friday.
  2. The directory you navigate to should contain twitter_api.py and twitter_functions.py.
  3. Use your text editor to open twitter_api.py and twitter_functions.py.
  4. Use the command line to run python twitter_api.py --search with various search terms, e.g.
    • python twitter_api.py --search=Python
    • python twitter_api.py --search="Red Sox"
  5. Use the text editor to read through the search function in twitter_functions.py.
  6. Trace through the logic in twitter_api.py that turns the --search command line option into a call to search.
  7. Find GetSearch in the Twitter library code at http://code.google.com/p/python-twitter/source/browse/twitter.py. What other options could we have used with GetSearch?

Check your understanding: What does api.GetSearch return?

2. Read through and understand trendingTopics

  1. Use the command line to run python twitter_api.py --trending-topics
  2. Use the text editor to read through the trendingTopics function in twitter_functions.py.
  3. Trace through the logic in twitter_api.py that turns the --trending-topics command line option into a call to search.
  4. Find GetTrendsWoeid in the Twitter library code at http://code.google.com/p/python-twitter/source/browse/twitter.py. How many trending topics does that method return?

Check your understanding: What are the differences between the optparse logic for --search and --trending-topics? You could refer to the optparse module for parsing command-line options: http://docs.python.org/library/optparse.html

3. Implement userTweets

  1. Using the search and trendingTopics functions as a reference, implement userTweets in twitter_functions.py. This function should print recent tweets by the username provided on the command line. You may find the twitter.Api() function GetUserTimeline() helpful. Currently, the code in twitter_functions.py is empty, with only a comment, and a pass statement that allows us to define this function without actually doing anything.
    def userTweets(username):
        """
        Print recent tweets by `username`.
    
        You may find the twitter.Api() function   GetUserTimeline() helpful.
    
        To test this function, at the command line run:
            python twitter_api.py -u <username>
        For example,
            python twitter_api.py -u bostonpython
        """
        pass
  2. We've already written some optparse logic for userTweets in twitter_api.py. Read through that logic. In what ways is it the same/different from the logic for search?
  3. Test your function. You can do this with:
    python twitter_api.py -u <username>

    For example,

    python twitter_api.py -u Orbitz

    or,

    python twitter_api.py -u zoro_tools
  4. You should see 20 tweets by the provided username. If you have a Twitter account, try running it on yourself, tweeting something new, and running it again!

Check your understanding: What are the two ways to pass command line arguments for userTweets?

4. Implement trendingTweets

  1. Using the search and trendingTopics functions as a reference, implement trendingTweets in twitter_functions.py. This function should print a couple of recent tweets from each of the currently trending topics.
  2. We've already written some optparse logic for trendingTweets in twitter_api.py. Read through that logic. In what ways is it the same/different from the logic for search?
  3. Test your function. You can do this with:
    python twitter_api.py -w
  4. You should see recent tweets from all of the currently trending topics. Depending on how you implemented your function, you might see a chunk of tweets from each trending topic in turn, or tweets from each topic interleaved.

Check your understanding: What is the purpose of CHICAGO_WOEID in twitter_functions.py?

Bonus exercises

If you have time, try out some of these extra exercises.

1. Customize how tweets are printed by search

The tweets printed by search could look much nicer and have more useful metadata!

Customize how tweets are displayed. Look at the Status and User classes in http://code.google.com/p/python-twitter/source/browse/twitter.py for inspiration; options include displaying:

  • the sender of the tweet
  • the URL for the tweet
  • how many followers the sender has
  • the location of the sender
  • if it was a retweet

and more!

2. Print trending topics by location

Extend trendingTopics so that a Yahoo! Where On Earth ID (WOEID) can be specified on the command line and trending topics for that location will be displayed instead of using the hardcoded CHICAGO_WOEID to only display results for Chicago.

You can look up WOEIDs by location at http://sigizmund.info/woeidinfo/

Congratulations!

You've read, modified, and added code to a software project that makes it easy to get useful information from Twitter. Keep practicing!

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