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I've been asked for $work to write an API client for backtype, as we plan to integrate it in one of our services. A couple of days before I was reading the Net::Twitter source code, and I've found interesting how semifor wrote it.

Basically, what Net::Twitter does is this: for each API method, there is a twitter_api_method method, where the only code for this method is an API specification of the method. Let's look at the public timeline method:

twitter_api_method home_timeline => (
    description => <<'',
Returns the 20 most recent statuses, including retweets, posted by the
authenticating user and that user's friends. This is the equivalent of
/timeline/home on the Web.

    path     => 'statuses/home_timeline',
    method   => 'GET',
    params   => [qw/since_id max_id count page/],
    required => [],
    returns  => 'ArrayRef[Status]',

The twitter_api_method method is exported with Moose::Exporter. It generates a sub called home_timeline that is added to the class.

** MooseX::Net::API

As I've found this approch nice and simple, I thought about writing a little framework to easily write API client this way. I will show how I've write a client for the Backtype API using this (I've wrote some other client for private API at works too).

Backtype API

First we defined our class:

package Net::Backtweet;
use Moose;
use MooseX::Net::API;

MooseX::Net::API export two methods: net_api_declare and net_api_method. The first method is for all the paramters that are common for each method. For Backtype, I'll get this:

net_api_declare backtweet => (
    base_url    => '',
    format      => 'json',
    format_mode => 'append',

This set

  • the base URL for the API
  • the format is JSON
  • some API use an extension at the name of the method to determine the format. "append" do this.

Right now three formats are supported: xml json and yaml. Two modes are supported: append and content-type.

Now the net_api_method method.

net_api_method backtweet_search => (
    path     => '/search',
    method   => 'GET',
    params   => [qw/q since key/],
    required => [qw/q key/],
    expected => [qw/200/],
  • path: path for the method (required)
  • method: how to acces this resource (GET POST PUT and DELETE are supported) (required)
  • params: list of parameters to access this resource (required)
  • required: which keys are required
  • expected: list of HTTP code accepted

To use it:

my $backtype = Net::Bactype->new();
my $res =
    $backtype->backtweet_search(q => "", key => "foo");
warn Dump $res->{tweets};

** MooseX::Net::API implementation

Now, what is done by the framework. The net_api_declare method add various attributes to the class:

  • api_base_url: base URL of the API
  • api_format: format for the query
  • api_format_mode: how the format is used (append or content-type)
  • api_authentication: if the API requires authentication
  • api_username: the username for accessing the resource
  • api_password: the password
  • api_authentication: does the resource requires to be authenticated

It will also apply two roles, for serialization and deserialization, unless you provides your own roles for this. You can provides your own method for useragent and authentication too (the module only do basic authentication).

For the net_api_method method, you can overload the authentication (in case some resources requires authentication). You can also overload the default code generated.

In case there is an error, an MooseX::Net::API::Error will be throw.


Right now, this module is not finished. I'm looking for suggestions (what should be added, done better, how I can improve stuff, ...). I'm not aiming to handle all possibles API, but at least most of the REST API avaible. I've uploaded a first version of MooseX::Net::API and Net::Backtype on CPAN.