How to explore the Twitter API without code using the console

Kin Lane has done some great work in highlighting the importance of APIs in education. If you are unfamiliar with APIs they are a way for separate programs to communicate and share information or perform actions.  With the growing usage of data in education I believe APIs are the only way to use data effectively and efficiently. Kin’s University of API white paper  is a great starting point to get more context.

Reading the white paper reminded me how important it is to get people to think beyond the webpage and consider the underlying data used to generate it.

Luke, view the source

Back in the day when I discovered the work of Tony Hirst this was a real threshold concept for me. Five years ago unpicking data powering the web felt a lot easier there was usually only basic authentication required, if any. Now you usually have to do some sort of authentication handshake. This additional step often immediately lands you in codeland. Even if you don’t do code there are still opportunities to explore APIs. Any decent API service will usually have interactive documentation for developers or API consoles. In a recent talk, which you can see the fragments of here, I highlighted what data is behind a tweet. If you’d like to explore the Twitter API in a non-cody way here’s how:

Interactively exploring the Twitter API

1. Go to Twitter API console https://dev.twitter.com/rest/tools/console. Make sure you logged in (should see your avatar top right)

2. In the Authentication drop down select OAuth 1 – this will prompt you to sign in with twitter

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3. When bumped back to the pack select /status/show/{id}.json

image (3) 

4. After it prefills some details switch to the Template tab. In the id box enter a twitter id number e.g. in my tweet https://twitter.com/mhawksey/status/591156241969319936 you’d just enter 591156241969319936 and hit the orange send button

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5. In the pane you should get a response. The main data bit starts:

{
  "created_at":

6. To get details of other tweets click the Template tab and enter another id.

image (1)

7. If you are interested in other API calls you can make click the Service box and select another

Enjoy!