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Simple API Flask app for the EU FP7 Newsreader project
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Simple API Users

This API was built to access data in KnowledgeStores created by analysing news articles as part of the NewsReader Project. Within the project we refer to this as the Simple API. The index page of the API provides detailed information on the available queries. An example index page can be found at

The Simple API has been used at Hack Days run as part of the NewsReader Project, a bundle of links providing additional information can be found here.

The Simple API uses an API key for authentication; please contact for an API key.

Local install

  • git clone

You'll need the username and password for the endpoint and you must store these in the environment variables: NEWSREADER_PUBLIC_USERNAME and NEWSREADER_PUBLIC_PASSWORD. (The deployed version has these setup already.). You also need to define an NEWSREADER_PUBLIC_API_KEY for local development.

The public and private endpoints have been separated, so you also need a set of environment variables for the private endpoint:

  • export NEWSREADER_PUBLIC_USERNAME=[public_username]
  • export NEWSREADER_PUBLIC_PASSWORD=[public_password]
  • export NEWSREADER_PUBLIC_API_KEY=[public_api_key]
  • export NEWSREADER_PRIVATE_USERNAME=[private_username]
  • export NEWSREADER_PRIVATE_PASSWORD=[private_password]
  • export NEWSREADER_PRIVATE_API_KEY=[private_api_key]

Multiple API keys for users can be specified in NEWSREADER_PUBLIC_API_KEY and NEWSREADER_PRIVATE_API_KEY. Confusingly, these should be semicolon separated if deploying via but comma separated for local usage. (TODO: check and fix.)

Running via Flask

  • Work on a virtualenv (optional)
  1. pip install -r requirements.txt
  2. python

App accessible via, which also shows up-to-date documentation.

Running via Docker

  1. Do make run

App accessible via

Deployment - WARNING!

The Simple API should automatically deploy to when code is merged onto the dev branch and it should automatically deploy to when code is merged onto the master branch. Deployment should only take a few minutes after merge, if it takes longer than this then there is likely a problem.

Deploying via Amazon CloudFormation

The awscli is required:

pip install awscli

In addition, you'll need AWS specific environment variables that you can set by:

aws-env() { export AWS_DEFAULT_REGION=eu-west-1 AWS_REGION=eu-west-1 AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID=$1 AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY=$2; clear; }; aws-env <ID> <SECRET>

(The <ID> and <SECRET> are created by making a new Access Key on AWS for a user. This option is found under "Manage Access Keys" on a user's Security Credentials page for an AWS user.)

You'll need to set NEWSREADER_VPC and NEWSREADER_SUBNET environment variables to match the VPC and subnet configuration you've set up on AWS for Newsreader.

You'll also need the HOOKBOT_MONITOR_URL environment variable. (TODO: add details of how to generate this.)

Once all that's done, you're set to actually deploy:

  1. cd ops
  2. make build (the first time or if you've deleted the PyPy Docker image)
  3. ./ create <stack name>

<stack name> is for example 20150604-sm; this shows up on the CloudFormation Management Console as newsreader-20150604-sm.

If changing an existing stack, you can substitute create in 3 for update.

Deploying master via CloudFormation

Provided hookbot is setup correctly, a push to master should automatically cause the Docker container to pull the latest version from GitHub, and switch to the new container if all is well.

Running tests

This will run all available tests:

> nosetests -v

This will run tests of queries which are not dependent on a KnowledgeStore

> nosetests -v app/

This will run generic tests of queries which are not strongly dependent on the underlying KnowledgeStore but may require tweaking:

> nosetests -v app/

Moving from World Cup to Cars datasets required modifications of test_visit_a_non_existent_page() and test_visit_a_page_beyond_the_offset_limit() only

This will run each of the example queries and test for the presence of the word "error" in the response:

> nosetests -v app/

Adding a new query

In the queries subdirectory specify a new subclass of SparqlQuery in a file of its own. The main action should be in adding the queries. { and } in the original need to be escaped to {{ and }}. Once the query has been created add a line like:

from .types_of_actors import types_of_actors

to __init.py__.

Adding a new KnowledgeStore

To get a new endpoint "new_topic" to work in future:

add a class to make_documentation that's copy-pasted from the existing WorldCupDocsCreator and replace query_object.world_cup_example with query_object.new_topic_example; add a query_object.new_topic_example to every query. Alternatively, do this in your NewTopicDocsCreator:

    return query_object.new_topic_example
except AttributeError:
    return query_object.world_cup_example

copy-paste the existing cars_index() in and replace cars with new_topic throughout it, including replacing CarsDocsCreator with NewTopicDocsCreator; add the endpoint path name to our server routes, e.g. /new_topic and the URL of the SPARQL endpoint to get_endpoint_credentials() as it already exists for cars and world_cup, in a conditional. Also update validate_api_key()

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