Authorize a Twitter Data request in R

In order to get data from Twitter you have to let them know that you are in fact authorized to do so. The first step in getting data from Twitter is to create an application with Twitter. The interested reader should explore the section “Where do I create an application?” under the FAQ for instructions on how to create a Twitter application. To authenticate a data request from Twitter we simply need to send the appropriate credentials to Twitter along with our request for data. The site dev.twitter.com provides useful step-by-step guides on how to authenticate data requests (see specifically the documents creating a signature, percent encoding parameters and authorizing a request), guides which we’ll explore here in the context of the R dialect.

Install and load the R packages RCurl, bitops, digest, ROAuth and RJSONIO.

## Install R packages
install.packages('RCurl')
install.packages('bitops')
install.packages('digest')
install.packages('ROAuth')
install.packages('RJSONIO')

## Load R packages
library('bitops')
library('digest')
library('RCurl')
library('ROAuth')
library('RJSONIO')

Access your Twitter application’s oauth settings (available under the OAuth tools tab on your application page) and save them to a data frame object.

oauth <- data.frame(consumerKey='YoUrCoNsUmErKeY',consumerSecret='YoUrCoNsUmErSeCrEt',accessToken='YoUrAcCeSsToKeN',accessTokenSecret='YoUrAcCeSsToKeNsEcReT')

Each time you request data from Twitter you will need to provide them with a unique, randomly generated string of alphanumeric characters.

string <- paste(sample(c(letters[1:26],0:9),size=32,replace=T),collapse='') # Generate a random string of alphanumeric characters
string2 <- base64(string,encode=TRUE,mode='character') # Convert string to base64
nonce <- gsub('[^a-zA-Z0-9]','',string2,perl=TRUE) # Remove non-alphanumeric characters

Generate and save the current GMT system time in seconds. Each Twitter data request will want you to include the time in seconds at which the requests was (approximately) made.

timestamp <- as.character(floor(as.numeric(as.POSIXct(Sys.time(),tz='GMT'))))

Order the key/value pairs by the first letter of each key. In the current example you’ll notice that the labels to the left of the equal signs are situated in order of ascension. Once ordered, we percent encode the string to create a parameter string.

# Percent encode parameters 1
par1 <- '&resources=statuses'
par2 <- gsub(',','%2C',par1,perl=TRUE) # Percent encode par

# Percent ecode parameters 2
# Order the key/value pairs by the first letter of each key
ps <- paste('oauth_consumer_key=',oauth$consumerKey,'&oauth_nonce=',nonce[1],'&oauth_signature_method=HMAC-SHA1&oauth_timestamp=',timestamp,'&oauth_token=',oauth$accessToken,'&oauth_version=1.0',par2,sep='')
ps2 <- gsub('%','%25',ps,perl=TRUE) 
ps3 <- gsub('&','%26',ps2,perl=TRUE)
ps4 <- gsub('=','%3D',ps3,perl=TRUE)

The parameter string is then extended to include the HTTP method and the Twitter base URL so as to create a signature base string.

# Percent encode parameters 3
url1 <- 'https://api.twitter.com/1.1/application/rate_limit_status.json'
url2 <- gsub(':','%3A',url1,perl=TRUE) 
url3 <- gsub('/','%2F',url2,perl=TRUE) 

# Create signature base string
signBaseString <- paste('GET','&',url3,'&',ps4,sep='') 

We then create a signing key.

signKey <- paste(oauth$consumerSecret,'&',oauth$accessTokenSecret,sep='')

The signature base string and the signing key are used to create an oauth signature.

osign <- hmac(key=signKey,object=signBaseString,algo='sha1',serialize=FALSE,raw=TRUE)
osign641 <- base64(osign,encode=TRUE,mode='character')
osign642 <- gsub('/','%2F',osign641,perl=TRUE)
osign643 <- gsub('=','%3D',osign642,perl=TRUE)
osign644 <- gsub('[+]','%2B',osign643,perl=TRUE)

kv <-data.frame(nonce=nonce[1],timestamp=timestamp,osign=osign644[1])

These results can than be passed to the function getURL() so as to download the desired Twitter data, such as status rate limits.

fromJSON(getURL(paste('https://api.twitter.com/1.1/application/rate_limit_status.json?resources=statuses&oauth_consumer_key=',oauth$consumerKey,'&oauth_nonce=',kv$nonce,'&oauth_signature=',kv$osign,'&oauth_signature_method=HMAC-SHA1&oauth_timestamp=',kv$timestamp,'&oauth_token=',oauth$accessToken,'&oauth_version=1.0',sep='')))

Results
Screen Shot 2013-05-26 at 10.53.05 PM

To reduce repetition, I’ve wrapped the above code into an R function called keyValues.

keyValues <- function(httpmethod,baseurl,par1){	
# Generate a random string of letters and numbers
string <- paste(sample(c(letters[1:26],0:9),size=32,replace=T),collapse='') # Generate random string of alphanumeric characters
string2 <- base64(string,encode=TRUE,mode='character') # Convert string to base64
nonce <- gsub('[^a-zA-Z0-9]','',string2,perl=TRUE) # Remove non-alphanumeric characters

# Get the current GMT system time in seconds 
timestamp <- as.character(floor(as.numeric(as.POSIXct(Sys.time(),tz='GMT'))))

# Percent encode parameters 1
par2 <- gsub(',','%2C',par1,perl=TRUE) # Percent encode par

# Percent ecode parameters 2
# Order the key/value pairs by the first letter of each key
ps <- paste('oauth_consumer_key=',oauth$consumerKey,'&oauth_nonce=',nonce[1],'&oauth_signature_method=HMAC-SHA1&oauth_timestamp=',timestamp,'&oauth_token=',oauth$accessToken,'&oauth_version=1.0',par2,sep='')
ps2 <- gsub('%','%25',ps,perl=TRUE) 
ps3 <- gsub('&','%26',ps2,perl=TRUE)
ps4 <- gsub('=','%3D',ps3,perl=TRUE)

# Percent encode parameters 3
#url1 <- 'https://api.twitter.com/1.1/application/rate_limit_status.json'
url1 <- baseurl
url2 <- gsub(':','%3A',url1,perl=TRUE) 
url3 <- gsub('/','%2F',url2,perl=TRUE) 

# Create signature base string
signBaseString <- paste(httpmethod,'&',url3,'&',ps4,sep='') 

# Create signing key
signKey <- paste(oauth$consumerSecret,'&',oauth$accessTokenSecret,sep='')

# oauth_signature
osign <- hmac(key=signKey,object=signBaseString,algo='sha1',serialize=FALSE,raw=TRUE)
osign641 <- base64(osign,encode=TRUE,mode='character')
osign642 <- gsub('/','%2F',osign641,perl=TRUE)
osign643 <- gsub('=','%3D',osign642,perl=TRUE)
osign644 <- gsub('[+]','%2B',osign643,perl=TRUE)

return(data.frame(hm=httpmethod,bu=baseurl,p=par1,nonce=nonce[1],timestamp=timestamp,osign=osign644[1]))
}

Twitter data requests now appear, on the user end of things, to need less code through the use of this function. Make sure to run the keyValues() function and the fromJSON() function within a few seconds of each others, or else Twitter won’t respect your data request.

## Check rate limits
# Parameter options: help, users, search, statuses
kv <- keyValues(httpmethod='GET',baseurl='https://api.twitter.com/1.1/application/rate_limit_status.json',par1='&resources=statuses')

fromJSON(getURL(paste(kv$bu,'?','oauth_consumer_key=',oauth$consumerKey,'&oauth_nonce=',kv$nonce,'&oauth_signature=',kv$osign,'&oauth_signature_method=HMAC-SHA1&oauth_timestamp=',kv$timestamp,'&oauth_token=',oauth$accessToken,'&oauth_version=1.0',kv$p,sep='')))
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2 thoughts on “Authorize a Twitter Data request in R

  1. Pingback: Download Twitter Data using JSON in R | Getting Under the Water

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