A Simple Python GET Script

Community Member
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Hey guys, 

I'll spare you my life story on this one, but I am the LMS Administrator at a non-profit institution. What that means is that I'm the administrator, the course designer, the data-analyst, the help team, and all things betwixt. I've had to learn about APIs from the ground up. Since most of the content in here is geared toward advanced users, I thought I would post something for the user who is just getting started. 

Step One - Get access token

Step One

The first thing you need when performing any API operation is an access token. You have to have administrative rights to do this. The good news is that you can auto-generate them yourself. Click on account - settings. Scroll down until you come to this and generate a new access token. 

Step Two

This step is the script itself. Python has a library available to make API requests. Naturally, this is called "requests". The documentation for this library can be found here.  There are several low priced books also available on Google-Play-Books. These books all assume some level of basic knowledge but if you want to further explore it, then they are good resources. Below is a picture of the script.

Python Code

The first part, URL, is the URL you are making your request to. The next and most important section is your headers. This is where you need your access token, or your request will never work. The part that is blurred it is where you will copy & paste your access token. 

After that, we use the variable r to form our request. This is where the library comes in handy. Here, we call our URL and use the headers to access it. Then we tell python to print our results. In this case, I have them printed in text and json format. The results are printed below. 

GET Result

The point of this is that it works. It returns your result with no hiccups. The next step of this project for me, personally, is to have these results saved to a CSV file that I can easily analyze. But the point of this is that it works. 

There are many useful things you can do with API calls, including POSTS, that allow you to create a course, delete a course, create and delete users, without ever having to access Canvas itself. 

4 Comments
Community Member

This was useful! Hope to see more projects in the future! thanks

Community Coach
Community Coach

That is a great guide nice work kevinw@financialmentors.org! It is always awesome to share knowledge to help others out!

Learner II

kevinw@financialmentors.org‌,

I love python.  I have found it very intuitive and a very useful language for the tasks that I complete.  If you are interested in learning more about the language and how it can be used to retrieve, store, and manipulate data, there is a great open source book you can find online (Automate the Boring Stuff with Python ).  This book is not only free, but it helped to give me a good understanding of the basics of the python language and allowed me to get comfortable coding. 

I hope this helps. 

Community Member

I will be working on my first API soon and found this to be very helpful.

About the Author
Graduated with a degree in Mathematics from University of Houston in 2017. Doing non-profit work with Financial Mentors of America to educate our nation's children in the art of critical thinking and financial independence.