Learn how to code a Facebook app in 25 minutes on PythonAnywhere

DfgDfg Admin
edited September 2012 in Tech & Games
It's 20 originally but I thought adding 5 minute more won't hurt.

This tutorial aims to teach you how to create and publish a simple Facebook app in about 20 minutes using PythonAnywhere.
PythonAnywhere is a browser-based programming and web app hosting tool. It makes it really easy to get started with web programming, because you don't need to install any software, or configure a server - we do all that stuff for you. All you need is your web browser!
[h=2]Set yourself up on Facebook[/h] OK, marketing over. Let's get started. The first thing to do is some config on Facebook:
  • First, visit the Facebook Developer App and add it to your account
  • Click the 'Create new App' button and enter a name for it (I'm creating a Kurt Vonnegut status lines app). Then, hit Continue
(PythonAnywhere offers free web app hosting, which is automatically configured to use those URLS: yourusername.pythonanywhere.com)
  • When you Save, we need to make a note of two things: The App ID and the Secret Key.
The App ID gives you the URL for your new Facebook app: https://apps.facebook.com/YOUR-APP-ID
[h=2]Start a new web app on PythonAnywhere[/h] Now, let's go back to PythonAnywere, and create our web app.
  • Log in to PythonAnywere and visit the Web tab.
  • Choose Replace with a new App and start a new Django app. The default name, mysite, is fine.
  • If you visit your Facebook app via the apps.facebook.com link you noted down earlier, you should now see the default Django "it worked!" page
NB if this doesn't work straight away, it may be because Facebook needs some time to propagate app settings to all its servers. Make sure you definitely hit "save" on the earlier step, and then you may need to just wait a couple of minutes...
[h=2]Coding our app[/h] Let's code our web app in two steps. First, we'll see if we can extract some info from Facebook about our user. Then, we'll give them the option to post a quote to their wall as a status update. Read and write phases, if you like.
[h=3]Basic config - adding the django-facebook module to our Django project settings[/h] There's a really useful package for django-facebook integration. Let's install that now. Open up a Bash console on the Consoles tab, then:

pip install --user git+git://github.com/pythonforfacebook/django-facebook.git (PythonAnywere comes with a lot of "Batteries Included" modules built-in as standard, but django-facebook isn't one of them, yet. So, we let our users use pip install --user to install things we might not have thought of)
Let's also start a new app inside our django project:

cd mysite python manage.py startapp myapp django_config1.png
To configure the django_facebook package, we need to add a few things to mysite/settings.py
  • Go back to the Dashboard, then go to Files. Go into the mysite folder, then click on settings.py to edit it.
  • In MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES, disable the CsrfViewMiddleware, and add the FacebookMiddleware:

    MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES = ( 'django.middleware.common.CommonMiddleware', 'django.contrib.sessions.middleware.SessionMiddleware', #'django.middleware.csrf.CsrfViewMiddleware', 'django.contrib.auth.middleware.AuthenticationMiddleware', 'django.contrib.messages.middleware.MessageMiddleware', 'django_facebook.middleware.FacebookMiddleware', )
  • In INSTALLED_APPS, we add django_facebook and our own app, myapp:

    INSTALLED_APPS = ( 'django.contrib.sites', 'django.contrib.messages', 'django.contrib.staticfiles', # Uncomment the next line to enable the admin: # 'django.contrib.admin', # Uncomment the next line to enable admin documentation: # 'django.contrib.admindocs', 'django_facebook', 'mysite.myapp', )
  • Finally, at the bottom of the settings.py file, we add the App ID and Secret Key for our Facebook app, which we noted down earlier, and we choose the default permissions we want for our app - in this case, we need publish_stream permissions. Adding this setting means that, the first time the user logs in, they will automatically be asked to grant those permissions to our app:

    FACEBOOK_APP_ID = 'your-app-number-from-earlier' FACEBOOK_SECRET_KEY = 'your-secret-key-from-earlier' FACEBOOK_CANVAS_PAGE = 'https://apps.facebook.com/%s/' % FACEBOOK_APP_ID FACEBOOK_SCOPE =
[h=3]A simple page saying hello using the current Facebook user's name[/h] Building a web page in Django involves using a template to render the pages' HTML, a view to pass information to the template, and a url to map to the view.
  • Let's start with the template. Open mysite/myapp, and create a New directory called templates.
  • Inside that, create a new file called home.html:

    <html> <body> <p>Hi {{me.first_name}}</p> </body> </html>
If you've not seen the Django template language before, you should recognise it as being pretty standard HTML, apart from the special bits inside {{ }} curly-brackets. In this case, the template wants a variable called me to be passed to it, which has info about the user. Let's build a view to pass that in.
  • Let's leave home.html open in a browser tab, and open a new tab to edit the next file. You'll find some breadcrumbs links at the top, which you can Ctrl-Click or to open up the grandparent folder, myapp. Inside that, you'll find a file called views.py, which we can edit now to add a simple view:

    from django.shortcuts import render from django_facebook.decorators import canvas_only @canvas_only def home(request): me = request.facebook.graph.get_object('me') return render(request, 'home.html', {'me': me})
The @canvas_only decorator will make sure Facebook redirects the user to a screen where they authorize permssions for the app the first time they load it. This alongside the FacebookMiddleware that we added to settings.py earlier takes care of magically adding the request.facebook.graph attribute, which we can then use to access the Facebook Graph API.
The Graph API is the main way of getting data in and out of Facebook - everything to do with users, relationships, friendships, wall posts and so on. You can interact with it in Python using the facebook module, and from Javascript using Facebook's own SDK (django_facebook has some help with this - more on that later). In the meantime, find out more here:
Finally, we need to set a url in our app to point to the home page. Let's use another new tab to open urls.py, which is back up in the mysite top-level folder.
  • In mysite/urls.py, and set one line in the urlpatterns:

    urlpatterns = patterns('', url(r'^$', 'mysite.myapp.views.home', name="home"), # Uncomment the next line to enable the admin: # url(r'^admin/', include(admin.site.urls)), )
  • Now, hit Reload Web App back on the Web tab of PythonAnywhere -- again, opening this up in another tab is useful.
At this point, you should be able to log into your Facebook app, find it asks you for some permissions, and see it greets you by name!
[h=3]Step 2 - Getting the app to post to the user's Wall[/h] Step 2 is to make our app do something - it'll give the user a random "quote of the day", that they can choose to post as their status.
  • Let's update our home page template so that it contains the quote of the day, and a button they can use to update their status. In mysite/myapp/templates/home.html:

    <html> <body> <p>Hi {{me.first_name}}</p> <h1>Vonnegut Quote of the Day</h1> <blockquote>{{quote}}</blockquote> <p>Or, hit reload if you want a new one...</p> <form method="POST" action="{% url update_status %}" > <input type="hidden" name="quote" value="{{quote}}" /> <input type="hidden" name="access_token" value="{{access_token}}" /> <input type="submit" value="Set as my status!"/> </form> </body> </html>
You can see that the home page now wants a quote object that it can show the user. When it wants to update the status, it's going to submit a form to a new url called update_status, so we'll need to build that. It also passes on an access token for permissions.
  • Let's start by modifying mysite/urls.py to add the new url:

    urlpatterns = patterns('', url(r'^$', 'mysite.myapp.views.home', name="home"), url(r'^update_status$', 'mysite.myapp.views.update_status', name="update_status"), # Uncomment the next line to enable the admin: # url(r'^admin/', include(admin.site.urls)), )
  • Now, edit views.py. We'll modify our home view slightly, and add the update_status view too:

    import facebook import random from django.shortcuts import render from django_facebook.decorators import canvas_only QUOTES = [ "Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.", "Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.", "The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest.", "Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder, 'Why, why, why?' Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand.", "If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don't need an enemy.", "We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.", "That is my principal objection to life, I think: It's too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.", "All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental.", "So it goes.", ] @canvas_only def home(request): me = request.facebook.graph.get_object('me') access_token = request.facebook.graph.access_token quote = random.choice(QUOTES) return render(request, 'home.html', {'me': me, 'access_token': access_token, 'quote': quote}) def update_status(request): quote = request.POST access_token = request.POST graph = facebook.GraphAPI(access_token) graph.put_object("me", "feed", message=quote) return render(request, 'all_done.html')
Our home view does two new things: it picks a random quote to show the user, and it extracts the user's access token, to pass it through to the form.
The update_status view then gets that access token and the quote out of the form submission. It uses the token to create a new Facebook Graph-API object, which we use to update the status. When that's done we show the user an "all done" page. Let's edit that now, in New file called mysite/myapp/templates/all_done.html:

<html> <h1>All done!</h1> <p>Hit refresh if you want to post another one...</p> </body> </html> At this point your app should be ready! You just need to go back to the Web tab and hit Reload Web App, and you should be able to and open up your app, and see the quote of the day. Hit submit, and you'll find it gets posted as your status on Facebook. Special!
That's obviously a very simple app, and it's ugly as sin, but it does show some of the basics. I've also chosen a particular way of implementing it (using a form, passing along the access_token, sending the Graph API request server-side), but there are lots of other ways you could do it - in particular, you could do more work client-side using the Facebook Javascript SDK. The Django-Facebook package has lots of helper tools to do that too, you can find out more here:
So, why not get cracking and try and knock up a quick Facebook app yourself? Post your results here!

via http://blog.pythonanywhere.com/35/

Simply amazing!


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