Before we start

Bitly allows users to shorten, share, and track links (URLs).

It’s a way to save, share and discover links on the web.

Bitly provides public API’s which is intended to make it even easier for python programmers to use.

First Step

The first step is to head over to dev.bitly.com where you will find the API documentation, best practices, code libraries, public data sets.

What is an API Key?

Many services on the Internet (such as Twitter, Facebook..) requires that you have an “API Key”.

An application programming interface key (API key) is a code passed in by computer programs calling an API to identify the calling program, its developer, or its user to the Web site.

API keys are used to track and control how the API is being used, for example to prevent malicious use or abuse of the API.

The API key often acts as both a unique identifier and a secret token for authentication, and will generally have a set of access rights on the API associated with it.

Get the Bitly API Key

To be able for us to shorten links (see below) we’ve to sign up for an API key.

The signup procedure is pretty much explaining itself, so I’ll not cover that in this post.

Create your Bitly API Key here

Bitly Code Libraries

A number of developers have written code libraries to interact with the bitly API in several different languages. Since we’re programming in Python, we’re of course interested in the Python libraries.

There are currently three different libraries to choose, which you can find here

In this post we will use the “bitly-api-python” library, which is also the official Python client.

Bitly API Python

The installation of Bitly API is very easy.

# Installation using PIP

pip install bitly_api
Downloading/unpacking bitly-api
Downloading bitly_api-0.2.tar.gz
Running setup.py egg_info for package bitly-api
Installing collected packages: bitly-api
Running setup.py install for bitly-api
Successfully installed bitly-api
Cleaning up...

Shorten a URL

We want to write a script that will reduce the URL length to make the sharing easier. Open up your favourite text editor and put in the code below.

Save the file as shortener.py

#!/usr/bin/env python

# Import the modules

import bitlyapi
import sys

# Define your API information

API_USER = "your_api_username"
API_KEY = "your_api_key"

b = bitlyapi.BitLy(API_USER, API_KEY)

# Define how to use the program

usage = """Usage: python shortener.py [url]
e.g python shortener.py http://www.google.com"""

if len(sys.argv) != 2:
    print usage
    sys.exit(0)

longurl = sys.argv[1]

response = b.shorten(longUrl=longurl)

print response['url']

Shortener.py Explained

We started the program with #!/usr/bin/env python

#!/usr/bin/env python

Importing the modules that we’re going to use in our program

import bitlyapi
import sys

Defining our API information

API_USER = "your_api_username"
API_KEY = "your_api_key"
b = bitlyapi.BitLy(API_USER, API_KEY)

Defining how to use the the program

usage = """Usage: python shortener.py [url]
e.g python shortener.py http://www.google.com"""

if len(sys.argv) != 2:
    print usage
    sys.exit(0)

Creates a variable longurl and sets the value to the argument passed in

longurl = sys.argv[1]

Gives the Bitly API the longurlresponse = b.shorten(longUrl=longurl)

Prints out the the URL value

print response['url']

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