Facebook Fans Count Using Python and the Graph API

I noticed some peeps struggling to show off their Facebook fans count on their websites using the Facebook API. I’ve shown before on how to do it in PHP, and this quick post is about Python. Honestly, you’ll laugh as soon as you read the following three lines of code:

import facebook
graph = facebook.GraphAPI()
print "Mashable has %s fans" % graph.get_object('/mashable')['fan_count']

Yeah, and that is one more reason to love Facebook. Now, you might be wondering where I got that Facebook module I imported? It’s called the Facebook Python SDK, it’s free and open source, hosted at Github and seems to be official.

There’s other info about public objects available via that method as well, you can get a full list by printing the whole object which is a dictionary:

print graph.get_object('/mashable')

Don’t forget to cache objects since you wouldn’t like to fire requests at Facebook every time your page loads up. If you’re thinking about other Graph API methods, make sure you read the Authorization section in the Graph API Overview since you’ll need OAuth tokens to make requests.

Heh, maybe I should continue this series of posts for a dozen of other languages too? ;) Thanks for sharing!

WordPress and Magic Quotes

This is crazy, and based on a post called WordPress and PHP magic quotes: you want to run me crazy! by Stefano Lissa. I’m writing a plugin prototype for WordPress that uses the new Facebook Graph API to post stuff to my wall on Facebook (upcoming blog post). The original Facebook PHP SDK comes in very handy when working with the Facebook API, and I had quite some fun using it, but..

I’ve been trying to figure this out for hours! I had code working outside WordPress and once I pumped it into a plugin it suddenly stopped authorizing me. I had to dig through the facebook.php code to figure out what’s happening, and here it is. The getSession() method uses the get_magic_quotes_gpc function and strips the slashes from the $_COOKIE superglobal if it’s switched on. Of course, that’s the correct logic supporting both php 5 and php 6, but not WordPress.

I looked through the latest (3.0.1) WordPress core code and was quite surprised to see a function called wp_magic_quotes(). Oh my god, thought I! Commented as: Add magic quotes and set up $_REQUEST ( $_GET + $_POST ).

What the hell is that? Okay, let’s see:

$_GET = add_magic_quotes($_GET);
$_POST = add_magic_quotes($_POST);
$_COOKIE = add_magic_quotes($_COOKIE);
$_SERVER = add_magic_quotes($_SERVER);

How does that sound? So all my apps, plugins, external libraries working with server variables (like Facebook does with cookies) are not allowed to use the magic quotes function? This means that working with WordPress, we must initially assume that all these are quoted, no matter what the php settings are. I don’t even know what question to ask here, perhaps: Is this the way things are done? Why?

To be honest this is getting me a little frustrated. Not by the fact that they’re slashing the whole input (although I don’t see a reason to) but, heh, I’ve been coding based on WordPress for over two years now, and never came across anything like this. Did I miss something in the Getting Started guide? ;) Anyways, the easiest way to get this working is to replace your get_matic_quotes_gpc function with 1, which says it is always switched on.

Eh, Monday morning disappointment ;) Cheers, and thanks for sharing the post!

Counting Facebook Fans in PHP: The Graph API Way

In a previous blog post called How to Count Facebook Fans in PHP I’ve shown a code snippet of how to count the number of fans on a fan page using PHP. Times have changed, the Graph API has been introduced, and due to some responses I introduce here the new way of retrieving your fans count using the new Graph API and php.

Before you copy and paste, flush my comments with ‘my code is not working’ posts, I’d like to get your attention to versioning of the Facebook PHP SDK which we’ve been using all this time. The SDK has changed and of course the old method doesn’t work with the new SDK which is mostly tuned to Graph API, therefore, my previous code still works on a dozen on websites, because I have the old SDK installed back there. So please, be careful to what you download and use, read release notes and change logs, it will save you hours of googling.

The following snippet is based on the Facebook PHP SDK version 2.1.1 (use the Switch Tags option on github to browse through different tags). So get a fresh copy of facebook.php and have it somewhere nearby.

Unlike the old FBQL way, the new Graph API is much easier to work with, and retrieving the fans count is literally two lines of code (initialization doesn’t count). Here’s the snippet to retrieve the fans count for Mashable (don’t forget to replace your application ID and API secret):


$facebook = new Facebook(array(
	'appId' => 'your-app-id',
	'secret' => 'your-api-secret',

$mashable = $facebook->api('/mashable');
echo 'Mashable has ' . $mashable['fan_count'] . ' fans';

Easy as that! I was also surprised to see that the Graph API is doing so well. Yeah, the documentation is not very rich, but whenever you need to retrieve something from Facebook, you can always print_r the results, which gives you the full picture. Sending data into Facebook is a little trickier and I’ll show you how in a later blog post.