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Python Twitter API
Latest commit 5551a05 @RouxRC RouxRC Merge pull request #311 from hugovk/patch-1
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Python Twitter Tools

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The Minimalist Twitter API for Python is a Python API for Twitter, everyone's favorite Web 2.0 Facebook-style status updater for people on the go.

Also included is a twitter command-line tool for getting your friends' tweets and setting your own tweet from the safety and security of your favorite shell and an IRC bot that can announce Twitter updates to an IRC channel.

For more information, after installing the twitter package:

  • import the twitter package and run help() on it
  • run twitter -h for command-line tool help

twitter - The Command-Line Tool

The command-line tool lets you do some awesome things:

  • view your tweets, recent replies, and tweets in lists
  • view the public timeline
  • follow and unfollow (leave) friends
  • various output formats for tweet information

The bottom line: type twitter, receive tweets.

twitterbot - The IRC Bot

The IRC bot is associated with a twitter account (either your own account or an account you create for the bot). The bot announces all tweets from friends it is following. It can be made to follow or leave friends through IRC /msg commands.


twitter-log is a simple command-line tool that dumps all public tweets from a given user in a simple text format. It is useful to get a complete offsite backup of all your tweets. Run twitter-log and read the instructions.

twitter-archiver and twitter-follow

twitter-archiver will log all the tweets posted by any user since they started posting. twitter-follow will print a list of all of all the followers of a user (or all the users that user follows).

Programming with the Twitter api classes

The Twitter and TwitterStream classes are the key to building your own Twitter-enabled applications.

The Twitter class

The minimalist yet fully featured Twitter API class.

Get RESTful data by accessing members of this class. The result is decoded python objects (lists and dicts).

The Twitter API is documented at:


from twitter import *

t = Twitter(
    auth=OAuth(token, token_key, con_secret, con_secret_key))

# Get your "home" timeline

# Get a particular friend's timeline

# to pass in GET/POST parameters, such as `count`

# to pass in the GET/POST parameter `id` you need to use `_id`

# Update your status
    status="Using @sixohsix's sweet Python Twitter Tools.")

# Send a direct message
    text="I think yer swell!")

# Get the members of tamtar's list "Things That Are Rad"
t.lists.members(owner_screen_name="tamtar", slug="things-that-are-rad")

# An *optional* `_timeout` parameter can also be used for API
# calls which take much more time than normal or twitter stops
# responding for some reason:
    screen_name=','.join(A_LIST_OF_100_SCREEN_NAMES), _timeout=1)

# Overriding Method: GET/POST
# you should not need to use this method as this library properly
# detects whether GET or POST should be used, Nevertheless
# to force a particular method, use `_method`
t.statuses.oembed(_id=1234567890, _method='GET')

# Send images along with your tweets:
# - first just read images from the web or from files the regular way:
with open("example.png", "rb") as imagefile:
    imagedata =
# - then upload medias one by one on Twitter's dedicated server
#   and collect each one's id:
t_up = Twitter(domain='',
    auth=OAuth(token, token_key, con_secret, con_secret_key))
id_img1 =["media_id_string"]
id_img2 =["media_id_string"]
# - finally send your tweet with the list of media ids:
t.statuses.update(status="PTT ★", media_ids=",".join([id_img1, id_img2]))

# Or send a tweet with an image (or set a logo/banner similarily)
# using the old deprecated method that will probably disappear some day
params = {"media[]": imagedata, "status": "PTT ★"}
# Or for an image encoded as base64:
params = {"media[]": base64_image, "status": "PTT ★", "_base64": True}

Searching Twitter:

# Search for the latest tweets about #pycon"#pycon")

Retrying after reaching the API rate limit

Simply create the Twitter instance with the argument retry=True, then the HTTP error codes 429, 502, 503 and 504 will cause a retry of the last request. If retry is an integer, it defines the number of retries attempted.

Using the data returned

Twitter API calls return decoded JSON. This is converted into a bunch of Python lists, dicts, ints, and strings. For example:

x = twitter.statuses.home_timeline()

# The first 'tweet' in the timeline

# The screen name of the user who wrote the first 'tweet'

Getting raw XML data

If you prefer to get your Twitter data in XML format, pass format="xml" to the Twitter object when you instantiate it:

twitter = Twitter(format="xml")

The output will not be parsed in any way. It will be a raw string of XML.

The TwitterStream class

The TwitterStream object is an interface to the Twitter Stream API. This can be used pretty much the same as the Twitter class except the result of calling a method will be an iterator that yields objects decoded from the stream. For example::

twitter_stream = TwitterStream(auth=OAuth(...))
iterator = twitter_stream.statuses.sample()

for tweet in iterator: something with this tweet...

Per default the TwitterStream object uses public streams. If you want to use one of the other streaming APIs, specify the URL manually:

Note that you require the proper permissions to access these streams. E.g. for direct messages your application needs the "Read, Write & Direct Messages" permission.

The following example demonstrates how to retrieve all new direct messages from the user stream:

auth = OAuth(
    consumer_key='[your consumer key]',
    consumer_secret='[your consumer secret]',
    token='[your token]',
    token_secret='[your token secret]'
twitter_userstream = TwitterStream(auth=auth, domain='')
for msg in twitter_userstream.user():
    if 'direct_message' in msg:
        print msg['direct_message']['text']

The iterator will yield until the TCP connection breaks. When the connection breaks, the iterator yields {'hangup': True}, and raises StopIteration if iterated again.

Similarly, if the stream does not produce heartbeats for more than 90 seconds, the iterator yields {'hangup': True, 'heartbeat_timeout': True}, and raises StopIteration if iterated again.

The timeout parameter controls the maximum time between yields. If it is nonzero, then the iterator will yield either stream data or {'timeout': True} within the timeout period. This is useful if you want your program to do other stuff in between waiting for tweets.

The block parameter sets the stream to be fully non-blocking. In this mode, the iterator always yields immediately. It returns stream data, or None. Note that timeout supercedes this argument, so it should also be set None to use this mode, and non-blocking can potentially lead to 100% CPU usage.

Twitter Response Objects

Response from a twitter request. Behaves like a list or a string (depending on requested format) but it has a few other interesting attributes.

headers gives you access to the response headers as an httplib.HTTPHeaders instance. You can do response.headers.get('h') to retrieve a header.


You can authenticate with Twitter in three ways: NoAuth, OAuth, or OAuth2 (app-only). Get help() on these classes to learn how to use them.

OAuth and OAuth2 are probably the most useful.

Working with OAuth

Visit the Twitter developer page and create a new application:

This will get you a CONSUMER_KEY and CONSUMER_SECRET.

When users run your application they have to authenticate your app with their Twitter account. A few HTTP calls to twitter are required to do this. Please see the twitter.oauth_dance module to see how this is done. If you are making a command-line app, you can use the oauth_dance() function directly.

Performing the "oauth dance" gets you an ouath token and oauth secret that authenticate the user with Twitter. You should save these for later so that the user doesn't have to do the oauth dance again.

read_token_file and write_token_file are utility methods to read and write OAuth token and secret key values. The values are stored as strings in the file. Not terribly exciting.

Finally, you can use the OAuth authenticator to connect to Twitter. In code it all goes like this:

from twitter import *

MY_TWITTER_CREDS = os.path.expanduser('~/.my_app_credentials')
if not os.path.exists(MY_TWITTER_CREDS):
    oauth_dance("My App Name", CONSUMER_KEY, CONSUMER_SECRET,

oauth_token, oauth_secret = read_token_file(MY_TWITTER_CREDS)

twitter = Twitter(auth=OAuth(
    oauth_token, oauth_token_secret, CONSUMER_KEY, CONSUMER_SECRET))

# Now work with Twitter
twitter.statuses.update(status='Hello, world!')

Working with OAuth2

Twitter only supports the application-only flow of OAuth2 for certain API endpoints. This OAuth2 authenticator only supports the application-only flow right now.

To authenticate with OAuth2, visit the Twitter developer page and create a new application:

This will get you a CONSUMER_KEY and CONSUMER_SECRET.

Exchange your CONSUMER_KEY and CONSUMER_SECRET for a bearer token using the oauth2_dance function.

Finally, you can use the OAuth2 authenticator and your bearer token to connect to Twitter. In code it goes like this::

twitter = Twitter(auth=OAuth2(bearer_token=BEARER_TOKEN))

# Now work with Twitter'keyword')


Python Twitter Tools are released under an MIT License.

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