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YCDL - The Youtube Channel Downloader

YCDL creates an SQLite3 database of Youtube channels and their videos, and serves it out of a web server.

YCDL solves three main problems:

Metadata archive

The database acts as a permanent archive of video metadata including title, description, duration, view count, and more. Even if a video or channel is deleted from Youtube, you will still have this information. Perfect for keeping track of unlisted videos, too.

The thumbnails, however, are not stored in the database, but you can use utilities\download_thumbnails.py to download them.

Note: At this time, refreshing a channel in YCDL will update video titles, descriptions, and view counts with their current values. If you refresh a channel after they have changed their video's title or description you will lose the previous value.

Easily watch every video on the channel

When I discover a channel, I like to watch through the videos over the course of weeks or months. Within Youtube's own interface, there is no good way to filter videos you've watched from videos you haven't. Scrolling through all of a channel's videos to find ones you haven't seen is tough.

In YCDL, videos start off as pending and you can mark them as ignore or download. The pending page always acts as your "to-watch" list.

On Youtube's subscription page, there is a button to hide a video from the list. I would often press this hide button after watching a video, only to find it come back a few days later. Don't get me started on live broadcasts or premieres -- hiding those was never reliable. YCDL makes watching my subscriptions much easier.

Send video IDs to youtube-dl

YCDL does not perform the downloading of videos itself. youtube-dl is the tool for that. When you click on the download button, it will create an empty file called xxxxxxxxxxx.ytqueue in the directory specified by the ycdl.json config file. You should create a separate shell / Python script that watches for ytqueue files and calls youtube-dl with your preferred arguments.

The reason for this is that youtube-dl is extremely configurable. Every user might prefer a completely different set of arguments and formatting. Rather than attempting to provide an interface for that in YCDL, my goal is to get you the video IDs so you can pass them into your favorite youtube-dl configuration.

Features

  • Web interface with video embeds
  • Commandline interface for scripted use
  • "Sub-box" page where newest videos from all channels are listed in order
  • Sort videos by date, duration, views, or random
  • Background thread will refresh channels over time
  • Automark channels as ignore or download
  • Free yourself from Youtube's awful recommendation system

Your API key

You are responsible for your own youtube_credentials.py file in a folder on your PYTHONPATH. This file must have a function get_youtube_key. YCDL will import youtube_credentials and call youtube_credentials.get_youtube_key() with no arguments. It should return a Youtube API key string. Here is how to get one:

  1. Go to https://console.developers.google.com/.
  2. Create a project using the menu in the upper left.
  3. From the project's dashboard, click "Enable APIs and Services".
  4. Search for and choose the latest YouTube Data API.
  5. On the left bar, click "Credentials".
  6. Click "Create credentials" and choose "API key". In my experience they all start with "AIzaSy".
  7. Return this value from get_youtube_key.

Setting up

YCDL has a core backend package and separate frontends that use it. These frontend applications will use import ycdl to access the backend code. Therefore, the ycdl package needs to be in the right place for Python to find it for import.

  1. Run pip install -r requirements.txt --upgrade.

  2. Make a new folder somewhere on your computer, and add this folder to your PYTHONPATH environment variable. For example, I might use D:\pythonpath or ~/pythonpath. Close and re-open your Command Prompt / Terminal so it reloads the environment variables.

  3. Place your youtube_credentials.py file inside that folder.

  4. Run python -c "import youtube_credentials; print(youtube_credentials)" to confirm. If you see an ImportError or ModuleNotFoundError, double check your pythonpath.

  5. Add a symlink to the ycdl folder into the same folder where you placed youtube_credentials.py:

    The repository you are looking at now is D:\Git\YCDL or ~/Git/YCDL. You can see the folder called ycdl.

    Windows: mklink /d fakepath realpath
    For example mklink /d "D:\pythonpath\ycdl" "D:\Git\YCDL\ycdl"

    Linux: ln --symbolic realpath fakepath
    For example ln --symbolic "~/Git/YCDL" "~/pythonpath/ycdl"

  6. Run python -c "import ycdl; print(ycdl)" to confirm.

Running YCDL

In order to prevent the accidental creation of databases, you must first use ycdl_cli.py init to create your database.

Running YCDL CLI

  1. cd to the folder where you'd like to create the YCDL database.

  2. Run python frontends/ycdl_cli.py --help to learn about the available commands.

  3. Run python frontends/ycdl_cli.py init to create a database in the current directory.

Note: Do not cd into the frontends folder. Stay in the folder that contains your _ycdl database and specify the full path of the frontend launcher. For example:

Windows:
D:\somewhere> python D:\Git\YCDL\frontends\ycdl_cli.py

Linux:
/somewhere $ python /Git/YCDL/frontends/ycdl_cli.py

It is expected that you create a shortcut file or launch script so you don't have to type the whole filepath every time.

Running YCDL Flask locally

  1. Use ycdl_cli init to create the database in the desired directory.

  2. Run python frontends/ycdl_flask/ycdl_flask_dev.py [port] to launch the flask server. Port defaults to 5000 if not provided.

  3. Open your web browser to localhost:<port>.

Note: Do not cd into the frontends folder. Stay in the folder that contains your _ycdl database and specify the full path of the frontend launcher. For example:

Windows:
D:\somewhere> python D:\Git\YCDL\frontends\ycdl_flask\ycdl_flask_dev.py 5001

Linux:
/somewhere $ python /Git/YCDL/frontends/ycdl_flask/ycdl_flask_dev.py 5001

Add --help to learn the arguments.

It is expected that you create a shortcut file or launch script so you don't have to type the whole filepath every time.

Running YCDL REPL

  1. Use ycdl_cli init to create the database in the desired directory.

  2. Run python frontends/ycdl_repl.py to launch the Python interpreter with the YCDLDB pre-loaded into a variable called Y. Try things like Y.get_videos.

Note: Do not cd into the frontends folder. Stay in the folder that contains your _ycdl database and specify the full path of the frontend launcher. For example:

Windows:
D:\somewhere> python D:\Git\YCDL\frontends\ycdl_repl.py

Linux:
/somewhere $ python /Git/YCDL/frontends/ycdl_repl.py

It is expected that you create a shortcut file or launch script so you don't have to type the whole filepath every time.

Pairs well with...

YCDL bookmarklet

Here is a javascript bookmarklet that you can click while on youtube.com to be redirected to the same URL on your YCDL server. Mainly for /channel and /watch URLs.

javascript:
document.location = document.location.href.replace('https://www.youtube.com', 'http://localhost:5000');
false;

Replace 5000 with the port on which you choose to run YCDL.

uBlock Origin filters

I use the following filters to prevent annoying elements from appearing inside the embedded youtube player:

! This is the thing that pops up while the video is paused
youtube.com##.ytp-scroll-min.ytp-pause-overlay

! These are the recommendations that appear after the video is over
youtube.com##.ytp-suggestion-set

Screenshots

To do list

  • Keep permanent record of titles and descriptions.
  • Progress indicator for channel refresh.

Mirrors

https://github.com/voussoir/ycdl

https://gitlab.com/voussoir/ycdl

https://codeberg.org/voussoir/ycdl

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