Monday, May 09, 2011

Setup OAuth2 for Google APIs

Today I'm at I/O Bootcamp and helping out with a walkthrough on how to get starting using Google APIs in a variety of languages.

One of the things I appreciate about the Google APIs is the authorization mechanism which lets me see which applications I've granted access for my data and allows me to revoke access. As an application developer, there are some things that I need to do to identify my application so that Google knows which app is requesting access so that it can show the user more information about my app. The first step, then, in writing an application that uses OAuth2 is registering your app.

You can begin the registration process on the Google API console by creating a project:

Now that you have an application, you'll need to configure it for use with OAuth2 and get the secret tokens that your application will use in its requests. For that create an OAuth2 client ID.

The most vital decision to make during the sign up flow is if your application is a "web application" or an "installed application". If you're a site accessed in a browser and you're able to send the users to a Google web page for authorization and then have the broswer redirect back to your app, then you want web application. For an installed application, the user will still need to authorize your app by visiting a web page, but once authorization is complete, the secret token will be sent to the app either using a redirect to a local running web server or by having the user copy and paste the secret into your application.

For the command line samples I've been playing with I choose installed application.

After creating the client ID you should see information something like this

Client ID:
Client secret: Amzz5Yip2SJPqqq5Jx
Redirect URIs: urn:ietf:wg:oauth:2.0:oob

You'll need to put this information into your application so that it can use the client ID and secret when making requests to get an authorization token from the user. This can be as simple as copying and pasting these strings into your code.

The one other thing that needs to be done before you begin using OAuth2 with one of the Google APIs is to turn on the API for your application. This can be done on the developer console "Services" section.

Let's say that I wanted to access the URL Shortener API. First I would need to enable it for my application.

Then I would need to specify the URL Shortener's API scope when I request authorization from a specific user. The scopes that are requested by my app are turned into a list of APIs that the user must grant access to when they authorize my application.

The scope for an API can be found in the API documentation under authorization.

For an example that brings all of these settings together, see the example:

FLOW = OAuth2WebServerFlow(
credentials = run(FLOW, storage)
http = httplib2.Http()
http = credentials.authorize(http)

Python may not be your bag, but no worries, there are client libraries for the Google APIs in a variety of languages, and even better, there is an API Explorer that lets you try out the underlying protocol without any language specific stuff getting in the way.

For example, here is getting details and stats about a short URL:

And here is creating a new short link:

For all the details on using these APIs, take a look at the documentation. For example here are the URL shortener docs. The common first step for almost all of the Google APIs that access user information is the registration step we started with. For more details on OAuth2 with Google APIs, there is some excellent documentation here.

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