Create a Live Twitter Profile Banner to show followers counter

#javascript#beginners#webdev#tutorial
cover image

In the previous part of this series, we learned how to automatically Tweet your popular articles.

Now as most developers, I didn't just stop there, lol. I went one step further, to create a service to automatically update my Twitter Banner with my followers count from DEV, Medium, and YouTube.

Believe me, it's much simpler than we think, or is it?

Let's find out -


Breakdown

  1. Create a sassy Twitter banner image with placeholders to fill in
  2. Read followers from DEV, Medium, and YouTube
  3. Use the Twitter API to update the banner
  4. Do this at a regular interval

Creating an Image template

The first and foremost step to start is to create a template that we can later fill in with live data.

I always use Canva to create images for Twitter and YouTube. So, I went there and used their Twitter Banner template to create one for myself.

I added usernames for all of the three accounts and left some space to fill in the live counter value.

I took inspiration from some Twitter accounts, and Tada 🎉!

My Twitter banner


Fetching DEV followers

This one was the easiest, all you have to do is

  • get an API from your DEV account
  • use their followers API to get all followers
  • they only send 1000 followers per page at max, so we have to run a loop, as long as followers are returned

Code Snippet

// fetch all followers
export async function getFollowersFromDev(): Promise<any[]> {
  // start with page 1
  let page = 1,
    limit = 1000;
  const followers = [];
  // repeat until page number exists
  while (page) {
    const res = await fetch(
      `${process.env.DEV_API_URL}/followers/users?per_page=${limit}&page=${page}`,
      {
        headers: {
          "api-key": process.env.DEV_API_KEY as string,
        },
      }
    );
    const answer = await res.json();
    if (answer && Array.isArray(answer) && answer.length) {
      followers.push(...answer);
      // increment page number if this page is full, otherwise set to 0
      page = answer.length === limit ? page + 1 : 0;
    } else {
      // no more followers, so set page to 0
      page = 0;
    }
  }
  return followers;
}

Fetching YouTube subscribers

We have a REST API available for this one,

  • create an API Key in your Google Cloud Platform project and allow access to YouTube API's Google Cloud console

  • visit YouTube Studio to get your channel ID, like shown in the image below Channel ID

  • all you have to do next is to call the API and read the data

Code Snippet

export async function getYoutubeSubscribers() {
  const res = await fetch(
    `https://youtube.googleapis.com/youtube/v3/channels?part=statistics&id=${YT_CHANNEL_ID}&key=${YT_API_KEY}`
  );
  const data = await res.json();
  return data?.items[0]?.statistics?.subscriberCount || 330;
}

Fetching Medium followers

Well, this was the toughest, Medium doesn't seem to provide an API to get followers count. But googling this I ended up finding this Gist from GitHub user newhouse, lots of thanks to them.

It turns out if you add a ?format=json to the end of your Medium profile URL you'll get a JSON response with a bunch of data including "SocialStats".

But, "Wait...Wait...Wait, not so fast" said the Medium team.

They have added some text in front of the actual JSON to restrict usage as an API.

Also it didn't resolve when I did a fetch request but worked when using Insomnia, so I used Insomnia as the user-agent when making network requests.

Code Snippet

export async function getMediumFollowers() {
  const res = await fetch("https://medium.com/@anshuman-bhardwaj?format=json", {
    headers: {
      "user-agent": "insomnia/2021.7.2", // didn't work without this for me
    },
  });
  // Medium adds this to the JSON text
  const hijackString = "])}while(1);</x>";
  const jsonText = await res.text();
  // remove the hijackString from JSON before parsing
  const data = JSON.parse(jsonText.replace(hijackString, ""));
  return (
    data?.payload?.references?.SocialStats?.[MEDIUM_USER_ID]
      ?.usersFollowedByCount || 20
  );
}

Updating my Twitter Profile banner

Now that we have all the information needed, we simply need to create an API handler function that will

  1. fetch data from all three of the methods made above
  2. update the placeholder image we created with the values fetched from the above methods
  3. upload the updated image to my Twitter account using v1 API's update_profile_banner endpoint.

Updating the Image

We will use the jimp npm package to add text on top of our image. For that, we have to find the exact coordinates of the placeholders. (hit and trial worked fine for me)

We use the print method from jimp to put the text on top of the image.

I've explained how to get Twitter API credentials in the previous article. So, please refer to that article and I'll skip that for now.

Limitations

  • The Twitter API accepts base64 encoding of the image but I was hitting max payload size when using fetch call but using the Twitter API Client npm package fixed the issue for me.
  • My NextJS API handler function was unable to resolve the fonts from jimp module at runtime so I copied them into the public folder to fix the issue.
  • As I was using the NextJS functions, I couldn't write the image on the disk.
  • Yeah, I know getBase64Async exists in jimp but it was giving a huge return value ~6x of the original size. So, I chained the getBufferAsync utility with a toString call and that worked fine for me.

Code Snippet

import { NextApiRequest, NextApiResponse } from "next";
import {
  formatLog,
  getFollowersFromDev,
  getMediumFollowers,
  getYoutubeSubscribers,
  twitterClient,
} from "../../../utils";
import path from "path";
import jimp from "jimp";

export default async function views(
  request: NextApiRequest,
  response: NextApiResponse
) {
  console.info(formatLog("Running Update Twitter Header Function"));
  try {
    const devFollowers = await getFollowersFromDev();
    const ytSubs = await getYoutubeSubscribers();
    const mediumFollowers = await getMediumFollowers();

    const filePath = path.resolve("./public/yellow_twitter_header.png");
    const jimpFont = path.resolve(
      "./public/open-sans-32-black/open-sans-32-black.fnt"
    );
    path.resolve("./public/open-sans-32-black/open-sans-32-black.png");

    const image = await jimp.read(filePath);
    const font = await jimp.loadFont(jimpFont);
    image.print(font, 150, 98, ytSubs);
    image.print(font, 620, 98, devFollowers.length);
    image.print(font, 1130, 98, mediumFollowers);
    const fromImage = await image.getBufferAsync(image.getMIME());
    const updatedHeader =
      await twitterClient.accountsAndUsers.accountUpdateProfileBanner({
        banner: fromImage.toString("base64"),
        width: 1500,
        height: 500,
      });
    response.status(200).send({
      type: "success",
      updatedHeader,
      devFollowers: devFollowers.length,
      ytSubs,
      mediumFollowers,
    });
  } catch (e: any) {
    console.log(e);
    response.status(500).send({
      type: "error",
      message: e.message,
    });
  }
}

Scheduling the updates

Now that we have done all the heavy lifting, we just have to call the API handler created above.

For scheduling, I created a Cron job using GitHub actions to run every 5 minutes to update my profile picture. The Cron Job calls the API handler created above and that's it.

And as of now, it is working pretty well.

Note: Twitter's Update Banner API is rate-limited, couldn't find the exact number but it's somewhere around 30 calls in 15 minutes or something. If you know it, please put down in comments.


Resources


Well, that's all, my friends. You can check out the complete guide and use it by forking this GtiHub Repo.

I hope you find this article helpful! Should you have any feedback or questions, please feel free to put them in the comments below, I would love to hear and work on them.

For more such content, please follow me Twitter

Until next time

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