Harshdeep 2.0

January 27, 2009

The Making of Latest in Music – Using Youtube API

Filed under: Latest in Music, Programming, Video — harshdeep @ 2:12 pm

This is the second part of the Making of Latest in Music trilogy (here is part 1). Latest in Music is a Youtube mashup that scrapes the listings of top songs from various websites and shows their music videos by searching for them on Youtube. This is the first time I built a web application and I’m amazed by how quickly one can build something interesting with the available tools.

An important part of LiM is interaction with Youtube. Youtube generously provides an API to access the service. Initially I didn’t feel the need to use it. All I had to do was search for a song. This can be done simply by inserting the query string at the right place in the URL – http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=<my_query_string> and fetching that page. However, this approach turned out to be insufficient for two reasons.

Firstly, some videos on Youtube cannot be embedded on external pages (like this one). Extending the basic approach to determine whether a video is embeddable would require another http page fetch. With Youtube API however, it is only a matter of setting an additional parameter in the search request (format=5).

Secondly, the initial users complained that there is no way to play all songs one after the other. I figured this could be done by creating a Youtube playlist with those songs. This definitely required the use of the API.

Using the API was pretty straightforward. But I learnt a few things the hard way. This might be a useful read if you are going to use the Youtube API for the first time

  1. Login

    The generic Google login does not work for the Youtube API calls that require authentication. It probably works fine for other Google APIs like the ones for Google Docs. But for Youtube API, you’ll get “Service Forbidden” errors with it. You need to create a login specifically on Youtube.

  2. HTTP version

    Youtube API requires the HTTP version 1.1. If you are using Ruby (version >1.6), the default http version is 1.2 and that causes errors. You need to call Net::HTTP.version_1_1 before sending any requests to make sure the Google servers are happy with you.

  3. API call frequency

    If you make a lot of Youtube API calls in a short time, you would start getting Forbidden errors. I couldn’t think of a better way to handle it than reducing the call frequency artificially by putting a sleep between them.

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1 Comment »

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    Comment by site — October 29, 2013 @ 12:13 am


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