Last anniversary at Standard Library we added the adeptness to appointed API executions as tasks from Code.xyz, our online editor for APIs. Appointed tasks are APIs you can body that run on schedules as diminutive as per minute, or as continued as per week. Whether you appetite to scrape a webpage for changes, accelerate reminders via SMS or Slack, or actualize database backups, it’s never been easier to agenda any and all workflow automation tasks.
First things first, we charge to actualize an API that can scrape xkcd, and accelerate us the latest banana via MMS. You can appointment the afterward URL to automatically amount the arrangement we accept created for this tutorial:
Or, if you already accept Code.xyz open, you can bang on the “Community API Sources” tab from the landing folio and chase for “steve/xkcd”.
After aperture the template, you’ll see one API endpoint— apparent in its absoluteness below.
The action takes one parameter: a buzz number. First, it fetches the xkcd homepage with axios and afresh uses adieu to anatomize the consistent HTML. Perhaps the best unintuitive allotment of the cipher is extracting the angel antecedent with cheerio, on band 12. It uses a concern selector, #comic > img, that tells adieu to attending for a div with the id banana and afresh acquisition a adolescent of that div that is an img element. That will accord you a articulation like //imgs.xkcd.com/comics/incoming_calls_2x.png. https: is afresh prepended to the url, so it becomes https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/incoming_calls_2x.png. That articulation is anesthetized to utils.mms via the mediaUrl param, which attaches it to the argument message.
You can try this out appropriate in the browser. On the appropriate ancillary of the screen, you should see a ambit window. Access your buzz cardinal (include the country code) and bang run in the basal appropriate bend of the screen. You’ll be prompted to log in or signup if you haven’t already and don’t worry, it’s free! Afterwards a moment you should get a argument and see the afterward in the after-effects panel, accompanied by a argument bulletin to your phone:
You may apprehension an added bulletin that says “Sent application Standard Library”. That is added because you are calling utils.mms unauthenticated. To accredit your request, you charge to add a library badge to your env.json. Accessible that book and bang in amid the brace of quotes abutting to STDLIB_LIBRARY_TOKEN beneath the dev key. Press cmd/ctrl k and aces a library badge from the prompt. Assassinate the action again, and you should get aloof the comic.
Now with the action ready, its time to agenda its execution. In the top-left bend of the screen, you should see a tab labeled “Tasks”. Bang that, and you’ll see an interface agnate to below.
On the left-hand ancillary you can see any currently alive appointed tasks, should you accept any. On the right, you can aces an API you appetite to actualize a new assignment for. Aces the API you aloof deployed — and you’ll move on to the abutting screen.
There are a few fields to ample in. The Assignment Name can be whatever you like; it will be acclimated in the larboard console as the label. Add your buzz cardinal (don’t balloon the country code, for example, 15558579305). Now for the schedule, you can see it was inputted as 0 17 * * Mon,Wed,Fri. That is a cron announcement that says to assassinate the action Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am PTD, which is about back new xkcds are released. It’s apparently account demography a little detour to amount out how to actualize a cron announcement like that. If you’re accustomed with cron, feel chargeless to skip this part.
Cron is a job scheduler accepted for its flexibly. But with that ability to accumulate circuitous schedules, comes some occasionally awkward syntax. A cron job consists of two parts, the agenda and the command. In our case, the command will be the API we appetite to call, i.e., the xkcd scraper, so we’ll avoid that part.
The agenda consists of bristles fields, minute, hour, day of the month, month, and day of the week. At anniversary minute, cron checks if the fields bout the accepted time. If they match, the command is executed, contrarily nothing. The bristles fields and their ambit of accessible ethics are apparent below:
In accession to application a anchored value, you can set a acreage to * which will bout the accomplished ambit of ethics that a acreage can take. Now for a few examples:
There are additionally a few modifiers which absolutely aggrandize the capabilities of cron:
Now, with all of that information, let’s agenda the xkcd scraper. A new xkcd comes out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at about 12:00pm UTC, so anytime afterwards that will be good. In the aloft archetype it was set to 5:00pm UTC (10:00am PDT). In cron, that agency ambience the aboriginal two fields to 0 17. The abutting two fields, day of the ages and month, are extraneous to this task, so leave those as *. That gives us 0 17 * *. Now for the Monday, Wednesday, Friday bit, we can use the , abettor and set the aftermost acreage to Mon, Wed,Fri. Putting it all together, we get 0 17 * * Mon,Wed,Fri!
Now, whether you’re a cron wizard, affected the example, or absolutely apprehend the above— you should accept a cron announcement ready. Bang on the Advanced (cron) button abutting to the agenda acreage in the assignment conception accoutrement and access it the expression. Press create, and your new assignment should pop up on the left!
The acute aegis able in you may accept noticed that our API is accessible to the world. Anyone could alarm it, with any buzz number. Thankfully, there is a quick fix for that. With your API accessible in Code.xyz, bang the amethyst “Share” button in the bottom-right corner. A modal with pop up, bang “Manage Access”, and you’ll about-face to the afterward screen.
This awning describes the permissions about your API. Currently, anyone can alarm your API with no problem. To change that bang the debris bin icons abutting to the two rows beneath “Public”. At the abutting awning bang “Revoke Access” and aloof like that, your API is secured.
And that’s it, acknowledgment for reading! Hopefully you were able to apprentice a little bit about cron jobs, web scraping, and Standard Library. This tutorial is aloof one of the abounding means you can get started with Standard Library and Code.xyz. If you accept acknowledgment or a accurate abstraction you’d like to share, ability out to me anon by e-mail: email@example.com, or chase me and the Standard Library aggregation on Twitter @StdLibHQ.
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