# Using a Third Party API

The time will come when you'll need data from a source you don't own. This cookbook recipe will present the scenario of accessing a third party's API from a Redwood app. We'll show an example of accessing an API from both the client side and the server side.

We're going to build a simple weather app that will display the current weather in the user's zip code (we'll assume only zip codes in the United States of America to keep the example code as simple as possible). To do this we'll get the current weather from the OpenWeather API and display it on the only page of our app, the homepage. The final app could look something like this (if you apply a little more styling on top of the basic version we'll build):

image

If you just want to skip to the code, you can get the repo for both the client and server implementation here: https://github.com/redwoodjs/cookbook-third-party-apis You will still need a valid API key from OpenWeather, so don't skip the Setup steps below!

# Setup

You'll need to create a free account on OpenWeather to get an API key. You'll be able to make 1,000 calls per day, which is more than enough for our sample app (with enough left over that you can release this as a private weather station for your family and friends).

Once you've created your account and verified your email address, go to the API keys tab and copy your default key:

image

(That's not a real key so don't even think about trying to steal it!)

For some reason it can take up to 30 minutes for OpenWeather to enable your API key, so while we're waiting for them let's see what a sample API call will return: https://samples.openweathermap.org/data/2.5/weather?zip=94040,us&appid=439d4b804bc8187953eb36d2a8c26a02

{
  "coord": {
    "lon": -122.09,
    "lat": 37.39
  },
  "weather": [
    {
      "id": 500,
      "main": "Rain",
      "description": "light rain",
      "icon": "10d"
    }
  ],
  "base": "stations",
  "main": {
    "temp": 280.44,
    "pressure": 1017,
    "humidity": 61,
    "temp_min": 279.15,
    "temp_max": 281.15
  },
  "visibility": 12874,
  "wind": {
    "speed": 8.2,
    "deg": 340,
    "gust": 11.3
  },
  "clouds": {
    "all": 1
  },
  "dt": 1519061700,
  "sys": {
    "type": 1,
    "id": 392,
    "message": 0.0027,
    "country": "US",
    "sunrise": 1519051894,
    "sunset": 1519091585
  },
  "id": 0,
  "name": "Mountain View",
  "cod": 200
}

Good ol' faithful JSON. Let's see, what can we use here to display on our site? How about the name of the city that the zip is in, the main.temp (listed here in Kelvin, so we'll need to convert) and then under the weather key we have an array with a main that lists the current conditions in english. How about that icon? Turns out OpenWeather has some we can use! Just take the icon code and use it in a URL like http://openweathermap.org/img/wn/10d@2x.png

rain icon

If enough time has passed your real API key may be activated. You can try seeing the weather in the geographic center of the US (make sure to append your API key to the end of this URL): https://api.openweathermap.org/data/2.5/weather?zip=66952,us&appid=

If it's still not ready let's start working on the app and hopefully it will be by the time we're done. You can always use the sample URL and forever see the unchanging weather in Mountain View, California.

# Create the App

We'll start our app the way we start all Redwood apps:

yarn create redwood-app weatherstation
cd weatherstation
yarn rw dev

That will open a browser to http://localhost:8910. Let's create a landing page:

yarn rw g page home /

If you like typing you can use the full command yarn redwood generate page home /

The browser should have refreshed with a message about where to find our new homepage, web/src/pages/HomePage/HomePage.js. Let's open that up and create a form so the user can actually enter their zip code:

// web/src/pages/HomePage/HomePage.js

import { Form, TextField, Submit } from '@redwoodjs/web'

const HomePage = () => {
  const onSubmit = (data) => {
    console.info(data)
  }

  return (
    <Form onSubmit={onSubmit} style={{fontSize: '2rem'}}>
      <TextField
        name="zip"
        placeholder="Zip code"
        maxLength="5"
        validation={{ required: true, pattern: /^\d{5}$/ }}
      />
      <Submit>Go</Submit>
    </Form>
  )
}

export default HomePage

This gives us a very simple form and some validation that the user is entering a 5 digit zip code. If you open your Web Inspector and click Go you should see the zip code appear in the console:

console output

Now let's talk to the API and get some data for real. We can do that in one of two ways:

  1. Have the client (React app running in the browser) talk to the API directly
  2. Have our own server (or serverless function, in the case of Redwood) talk to the API, and have the client talk to our server.

We'll build out an example of both types of integration below.

# Client-side API Integration

For the first version of our client-side integration let's access the API directly on the client. What are the pros on cons?

Pros

  • Simplest design: no server design/build needed
  • Fewest network calls: one!
  • Fast: calling directly to the API

Cons

  • Insecure: users could inspect the page source and get our API key
  • No throttling: someone could write a bot to hit the page thousands of times a second

You'll need to balance these risks in a real-world app so choose carefully!

# Fetching the weather data

We've got the zip code in our onSubmit handler so it makes sense to simply make the API call from there and then do something with the result. We'll use the browser's built in Fetch API since it does exactly what we need. For now let's just dump the result to the console (be sure to use your actual API key):

// web/src/pages/HomePage/HomePage.js

const onSubmit = (data) => {
  fetch('https://api.openweathermap.org/data/2.5/weather?zip=66952,us&appid=YOUR_API_KEY')
    .then(response => response.json())
    .then(json => console.info(json))
}

image

If it turns out your API key still isn't ready, you'd think you could just replace the URL in the fetch with the sample response endpoint instead, but this causes a CORS error. At this point you'll just need to wait for your API key to start working!

Well that was easy! We have the zip code hardcoded into that URL so let's replace that with the actual value from our text box:

// web/src/pages/HomePage/HomePage.js

const onSubmit = (data) => {
  fetch(`https://api.openweathermap.org/data/2.5/weather?zip=${data.zip},us&appid=YOUR_API_KEY`)
    .then(response => response.json())
    .then(json => console.info(json))
}

# Showing the weather on the page

We're getting our data just fine but now we need to update the page with the weather. Let's use state to keep track of the result and trigger a refresh in the UI (don't forget the new fragment <> </> around the form and weather output):

// web/src/pages/HomePage/HomePage.js

import { useState } from 'react'
import { Form, TextField, Submit } from '@redwoodjs/web'

const HomePage = () => {
  const [weather, setWeather] = useState()

  const onSubmit = (data) => {
    fetch(
      `https://api.openweathermap.org/data/2.5/weather?zip={data.zip},us&appid=YOUR_API_KEY`
    )
      .then((response) => response.json())
      .then((json) => setWeather(json))
  }

  return (
    <>
      <Form onSubmit={onSubmit}>
        <TextField
          name="zip"
          placeholder="Zip code"
          maxLength="5"
          validation={{ required: true, pattern: /^\d{5}$/ }}
        />
        <Submit>Go</Submit>
      </Form>
      {weather && JSON.stringify(weather)}
    </>
  )
}

export default HomePage

That should give us a simple text dump of the JSON:

image

Finally, let's output the actual weather data along with a couple of helper functions to format the output:

// web/src/pages/HomePage/HomePage.js

import { useState } from 'react'
import { Form, TextField, Submit } from '@redwoodjs/web'

const HomePage = () => {
  const [weather, setWeather] = useState()

  const onSubmit = (data) => {
    fetch(
      `https://api.openweathermap.org/data/2.5/weather?zip=${data.zip},us&appid=YOUR_API_KEY`
    )
      .then((response) => response.json())
      .then((json) => setWeather(json))
  }

  const temp = () => Math.round(((weather.main.temp - 273.15) * 9) / 5 + 32)

  const condition = () => weather.weather[0].main

  const icon = () => {
    return `http://openweathermap.org/img/wn/${weather.weather[0].icon}@2x.png`
  }

  return (
    <>
      <Form onSubmit={onSubmit}>
        <TextField
          name="zip"
          placeholder="Zip code"
          maxLength="5"
          validation={{ required: true, pattern: /^\d{5}$/ }}
        />
        <Submit>Go</Submit>
      </Form>
      {weather && (
        <section>
          <h1>{weather.name}</h1>
          <h2>
            <img src={icon()} style={{ maxWidth: '2rem' }} />
            <span>
              {temp()}°F and {condition()}
            </span>
          </h2>
        </section>
      )}
    </>
  )
}

export default HomePage

image

It's not pretty, but it works! We'll leave the styling to you!

You can see the final code, with styling, here: https://github.com/redwoodjs/cookbook-third-party-apis/blob/master/web/src/pages/ClientPage/ClientPage.js

# Server-side API Integration

If you weighed the pros and cons presented earlier and found too many cons on the client-side implementation, then it looks like we're making our call on the server. To do that we'll need to do two things

  1. Provide a way for the client to talk to our server(less function)
  2. A way for our server(less function) to talk to the third party API

Redwood comes with GraphQL integration built in so that seems like a logical way to get our client talking to our serverless function. Let's create a GraphQL SDL (to define the API interface for the client) and a service (to actually implement the logic of talking to the third-party API).

Doesn't Redwood have a generator for this?

Redwood does have an SDL generator, but it assumes you have a model defined in api/prisma/schema.prisma and so creates the SDL you need to access that data structure. If you're creating a custom one you're on your own!

# The GraphQL API

We can create whatever data structure we want so let's take this opportunity to strip out the data we don't care about coming from OpenWeather and just return the good stuff:

// api/src/graphql/weather.sdl.js

export const schema = gql`
  type Weather {
    zip: String!
    city: String!
    conditions: String!
    temp: Int!
    icon: String!
  }

  type Query {
    getWeather(zip: String!): Weather!
  }
`

This data structure returns just the data we care about, and we can even pre-format it on the server (convert kelvin to fahrenheit and get the icon URL). We have a Query type getWeather that accepts the zip code (note that it's a String because it could start with a 0) and returns our Weather type defined above.

# The Service

That's it for our client-to-server API interface! Now let's define the GraphQL resolver that will actually get the data from OpenWeather. We'll take it one step at a time and first make sure we can access our new GraphQL endpoint. We'll define the getWeather function to just return some dummy data in the format we require.

In Redwood GraphQL Query types are automatically mapped to functions exported from a service with the same name, so we'll create a weather.js service and name the function getWeather:

// api/src/services/weather/weather.js

export const getWeather = ({ zip }) => {
  return {
    zip,
    city: 'City',
    conditions: 'Hot Lava',
    temp: 1000,
    icon: 'https://placekitten.com/100/100',
  }
}

How can we test this out? Redwood ships with a GraphQL playground that you can use to access your API! Open a browser tab to http://localhost:8911/graphql

image

We'll enter our query at the top left and the variables (zip) at the lower left. Click the huge "Play" button in the middle of the screen and you should see the result of our query:

image

Okay lets pull the real data from OpenWeather now. We'll use a package node-fetch that mimics the Fetch API in the browser:

yarn workspace api add node-fetch

And import that into the service and make the fetch. Note that fetch returns a Promise so we're going to convert our service to async/await to simplify things:

// api/src/services/weather/weather.js

import fetch from 'node-fetch'

export const getWeather = async ({ zip }) => {
  const response = await fetch(
    `http://api.openweathermap.org/data/2.5/weather?zip=${zip},US&appid=YOUR_API_KEY`
  )
  const json = await response.json()

  return {
    zip,
    city: json.name,
    conditions: json.weather[0].main,
    temp: Math.round(((json.main.temp - 273.15) * 9) / 5 + 32),
    icon: `http://openweathermap.org/img/wn/${json.weather[0].icon}@2x.png`
  }
}

If you click "Play" in the GraphQL playground we should see the real data from the API:

image

# Displaying the weather

All that's left now is to display it in the client! Since we're getting data from our GraphQL API we can use a Redwood Cell to simplify all the work that goes around writing API access, displaying a loading state, etc. We can use a generator to get the shell of our Cell:

yarn rw g cell weather

This will create web/src/components/WeatherCell/WeatherCell.js:

// web/src/components/WeatherCell/WeatherCell.js

export const QUERY = gql`
  query {
    weather {
      id
    }
  }
`

export const Loading = () => <div>Loading...</div>

export const Empty = () => <div>Empty</div>

export const Failure = ({ error }) => <div>Error: {error.message}</div>

export const Success = ({ weather }) => {
  return JSON.stringify(weather)
}

Let's update the QUERY to match the signature of our API:

export const QUERY = gql`
  query($zip: String!) {
    weather: getWeather(zip: $zip) {
      zip
      city
      conditions
      temp
      icon
    }
  }
`

Note the weather: getWeather part. This will actually call the API endpoint getWeather but the response will be renamed to weather and then given to the Success component.

Let's leave the display as-is for now to make sure this is working. We'll use the WeatherCell in our HomePage and introduce some state to keep track of when the zip is submitted:

// web/src/pages/HomePage/HomePage.js

import { Form, TextField, Submit } from '@redwoodjs/web'
import { useState } from 'react'
import WeatherCell from 'src/components/WeatherCell'

const HomePage = () => {
  const [zip, setZip] = useState()

  const onSubmit = (data) => {
    setZip(data.zip)
  }

  return (
    <>
      <Form onSubmit={onSubmit} style={{ fontSize: '2rem' }}>
        <TextField
          name="zip"
          placeholder="Zip code"
          maxLength="5"
          validation={{ required: true, pattern: /^\d{5}$/ }}
        />
        <Submit>Go</Submit>
      </Form>
      {zip && <WeatherCell zip={zip} />}
    </>
  )
}

export default HomePage

If your copy/paste-fu is strong you should get a dump of the JSON from the GraphQL call:

image

Now all that's left is to format everything a little nicer. How about a little something like this in WeatherCell:

// web/src/components/WeatherCell/WeatherCell.js

export const Success = ({ weather }) => {
  return (
    <section>
      <h1>{weather.city}</h1>
      <h2>
        <img src={weather.icon} style={{ maxWidth: '2rem' }} />
        <span>
          {weather.temp}°F and {weather.conditions}
        </span>
      </h2>
    </section>
  )
}

image

# Extra Credit! Invalid zip codes?

What if the user inputs an invalid zip code, like 11111?

image

Gross. This happens when our service tries to parse the response from OpenWeather and can't find one of the data points we're looking for (the array under the weather key). We should put together a nicer error message than that. Let's look at the response from OpenWeather when you enter a zip code that doesn't exist: https://api.openweathermap.org/data/2.5/weather?zip=11111,us&appid=YOUR_API_KEY

{
  "cod": "404",
  "message": "city not found"
}

Okay, let's look for that cod and if it's 404 then we know the zip isn't found and can return a more helpful error from our service. Open up the service and let's add a check:

import fetch from 'node-fetch'

export const getWeather = async ({ zip }) => {
  const response = await fetch(
    `http://api.openweathermap.org/data/2.5/weather?zip=${zip},US&appid=YOUR_API_KEY`
  )
  const json = await response.json()

  if (json.code === '404') {
    return new Error(`${zip} isn't a valid US zip code, please try again`)
  }

  return {
    zip,
    city: json.name,
    conditions: json.weather[0].main,
    temp: Math.round(((json.main.temp - 273.15) * 9) / 5 + 32),
    icon: `http://openweathermap.org/img/wn/${json.weather[0].icon}@2x.png`,
  }
}

And now if we submit 11111:

image

That's much better! Let's strip out that "Error: GraphQL error:" part, and maybe make it look a little more error-like. This is a job for the Failure component in our WeatherCell:

// web/src/components/WeatherCell/WeatherCell.js

export const Failure = ({ error }) => (
  <span
    style={{
      backgroundColor: '#ffdfdf',
      color: '#990000',
      padding: '0.5rem',
      display: 'inline-block',
    }}
  >
    {error.message.replace('GraphQL error: ', '')}
  </span>
)

image

Much better!

# Conclusion

We hope this has given you enough confidence to go out and capture data from some of the amazing APIs of the Information Superhighway and get it (them?) into your Redwood app!

Picking up any new framework from scratch is a daunting task and even those of us that wrote this one made more than a few trips to Google! If you think we can improve on this recipe, or any other, open an issue or a pull request.