Python utilities to make it a little easier to set up and run a Twitter bot
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README.md

twitter bot utils

Twitter bot utils make it a little easier to set up a Twitter bot, with an eye to making config and command-line options easy to manage and reproduce. They're intended for managing a small-to-medium-sized coterie of Twitter accounts on one machine. The package is a super-simple wrapper for the excellent Tweepy library. It also provides shortcuts for setting up command line tools with argparse.

This package is intended to assist with the creation of bots for artistic or personal projects. Don't use it to spam or harrass people.

Works with Python 2.7, 3.4 and 3.5 (2.6 & 3.3 probably work, too).

Install with pip install twitter_bot_utils.

See a basic run through in the Hello World section of the documentation.

Authenticating

One hurdle with setting up bots is getting the proper authentication keys. It can be a bit of a pain to log in and out of Twitter's app site. Twitter bot utils comes with tbu auth, a command line helper for this:

$ twitter-auth --consumer-key 1233... --consumer-key 345...

This will prompt you with an url. Open this in a browser where your bot is logged in, click "Authorize". Twitter will show you an authorization code, enter this on the command line, and presto! your keys will be displayed.

tbu auth is inspired by a feature of twurl, Twitter's full-fledged command line tool.

Config files

One goal of Twitter Bot Utils is to create Tweepy instances with authentication data stored in a simple config file. This gives botmakers a simple, reusable place to store keys outside of source control.

By default, Twitter bot utils looks for a file called bots.yaml or bots.json in the current directory, your home directory (~/) or the ~/bots directory. Custom config locations can be set, too.

These are two ways to lay out a bots config file. The basic way covers just one user and one app:

key: LONGSTRINGOFLETTERS-ANDNUMBERS
secret: LETTERSANDNUMBERS
consumer_key: LOL123...
consumer_secret: OMG456...
my_setting: "bots are good"

If you have more than one bot or app, use the multi-bot layout useful:

general_setting: "all bots share this setting"

users:
    # twitter screen_name
    MyBotName:
        key: LONGSTRINGOFLETTERS-ANDNUMBERS
        secret: LETTERSANDNUMBERS
        # The app key should match a key in apps below
        app: my_app_name
        custom_setting: "bots are great"

    other_bot:
        ...
apps:
    my_app_name:
        app_setting: "apple juice"
        consumer_key: ...
        consumer_secret: ...

The twitter-auth utility will happily read settings from a bots.yaml file:

twitter-auth -c ~/bots.yaml --app my_app_name

Using config files to talk to Twitter

Using a config file in one of the default locations doesn't require any extra settings:

import twitter_bot_utils as tbu

# Automatically check for a config file in the above-named directories
twitter = tbu.API(screen_name='MyBotName')

The twitter object is a fully-authenticated tweepy API object. So you can now do this:

twitter.update_status(status='hello world')

The bots config file is also useful for storing keys and parameters for other APIs, or for your own bots.

# Get a config settings from your bots config file. This might be the key for a third-party API
# Use a general setting
twitter.config['general_setting']
# "all bots share this setting"

# Settings from the user and app section are also available:
twitter.config['custom_setting']
# "bots are great"

twitter.config['app_setting']
# "apple juice"

Set a custom config file with the config_file argument:

# Specify a specific config file
twitter = tbu.API(screen_name='MyBotName', config_file='path/to/config.yaml')

Twitter bot utils comes with some built-in command line parsers, and the API object will also happily consume the result of argparse.parser.parse_args() (see below for details).

Without user authentication

Some Twitter API queries don't require user authentication. To set up an Tweepy API instance without user authentication, set up a bots.yaml file as above, but omit the users section. Use the app keyword argument:

twitter = tbu.API(app='my_app_name', config_file='path/to/config.yaml')

twitter.search(q="Twitter searches don't require user authentication")

Recent tweets

The twitter_bot_utils.API object extends tweepy.API with some methods useful for bots:

  • Methods to check for the ID of recent tweets: last_tweet, last_reply, last_retweet. These are useful if your bot searches twitter and wants to avoid ingesting the same material.
twitter = tbu.API(screen_name='MyBotName')

twitter.last_tweet
# id of most recent tweet from MyBotName

twitter.last_reply
# id of most recent reply from MyBotName

twitter.last_retweet
# id of most recent retweet from MyBotName

# Example: what's happened since the last time the bot was active?
twitter.search('#botALLY', since_id=twitter.last_tweet)

Twitter bot utils also adds a retry in update_status when Twitter is over capacity. If update_status gets a 503 error from Twitter, it will wait 10 seconds and try again.

Default Command Line Options

It's useful to package bots as command line apps so that they can be easily run with cron. Twitter bot utils includes some helpers for working with argparse.

Some useful command line flags are available by default:

  • -u, --user: Screen name to run as
  • -n, --dry-run: Don't tweet, just output to stdout
  • -v, --verbose: Log to stdout
  • -q, --quiet: Only log errors
  • -c, --config: path to a config file. This is a JSON or YAML file laid out according to the above format. This option isn't needed if the config file is in one of the default places.

Say this is mybot.py:

import argparse
import twitter_bot_utils as tbu

# This sets up an argparse.ArgumentParser with the default arguments
parent = tbu.args.parent()
parser = argparse.ArgumentParser('My Example Bot', parents=[parent])
parser.add_argument('--my-arg', type=str, help='A custom argument')

args = parser.parse_args()

# Set up the tweepy API
# Note that you can pass the argparse.Namespace object
twitter = tbu.API(args)

# Generate a tweet somehow
tweet = my_tweet_function(args.my_arg)

# The API includes an instance of logging
# debug logs will output to stdout only if --verbose is set
# info logs will output even without --verbose
api.logger.debug("Generated %s", tweet)

# Use args.dry_run to control tweeting
if not args.dry_run:
    twitter.update_status(tweet)

Then on the command line:

> python mybot.py --help
usage: mybot.py [options]

My Example Bot

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -c PATH, --config PATH
                        bots config file (json or yaml)
  -u SCREEN_NAME, --user SCREEN_NAME
                        Twitter screen name
  -n, --dry-run         Don't actually do anything
  -v, --verbose         Run talkatively
  -q, --quiet           Run quietly
  --my-arg MY_ARG       A custom argument

# Looks for settings in a config file (e.g. bots.yaml, see config section above)
# Prints results to stdout and doesn't publish anything 
> python yourapp.py  --dry-run --verbose
Generated <EXAMPLE TWEET>

# Run quietly, say in a crontab file
> python yourapp.py --user MyBotName --quiet
Generated <EXAMPLE TWEET 2>

Helpers

Checking for entities

Easily check if tweets have specific entities:

import twitter_bot_utils

# Don't set include_entities to False and expect the below to work
statuses = twitter.search('example search', include_entities=True)

status = status[0]

twitter_bot_utils.helpers.has_mention(status)
# returns True if status has one or more mentions, otherwise False 

twitter_bot_utils.helpers.has_hashtag(status)
# returns True if status has one or more hashtags, otherwise False 

twitter_bot_utils.helpers.has_media(status)
# returns True if status has one or more media entities (images, video), otherwise False 

twitter_bot_utils.helpers.has_entities(status)
# returns True if status has any entities

# These also exist:
twitter_bot_utils.helpers.has_url
twitter_bot_utils.helpers.has_symbol

Filtering out entities

These helpers remove entities from a tweet's text.

import twitter_bot_utils as tbu

api = tbu.API(screen_name='MyBotName')

results = api.search("special topic")

results[0].text
# 'This is an example tweet with a #hashtag and a link http://foo.com'

tbu.helpers.remove_entity(results[0], 'hashtags')
# 'This is an example tweet with a  and a link http://foo.com'

tbu.helpers.remove_entity(results[0], 'urls')
# 'This is an example tweet with a #hashtag and a link '

# Remove multiple entities with remove_entities.
tbu.helpers.remove_entities(results[0], ['urls', 'hashtags', 'media'])
# 'This is an example tweet with a  and a link '

Command line utilities

Twitter bot utils includes a command line tool with a few useful subcommands:

  • tbu auth: Authenticate and account with a Twitter app.
  • tbu follow: Follow accounts that follow your bot
  • tbu like: Like (aka favorite) your bot's mentions
  • tbu post: Basic command line for posting text and images