Building A Simple Python API for Internet of Things Gadgets

It’s no secret that I rather enjoy connecting things to the Internet for fun and profit. One of the tricks I’ve learned along the way is to spin up simple APIs that can be used when prototyping a project. It’s easy to do, and simple to understand so I’m happy to share what has worked for me, using Web2Py as the example (with guest appearances from ESP8266 and NodeMCU).

Barring the times I’m just being silly, there are two reasons I might do this. Most commonly I’ll need to collect data from a device, typically to be stored for later analysis but occasionally to trigger some action on a server in the cloud. Less commonly, I’ll need a device to change its behavior based on instructions received via the Internet.

Etherscan is an example of an API that saves me a lot of work, letting me pull data from Ethereum using a variety of devices.

In the former case, my first option has always been to use IoT frameworks like Thingsboard or Ubidots to receive and display data. They have the advantage of being easy to use, and have rich features. They can even react to data and send instruction back to devices. In the latter case, I usually find myself using an application programming interface (API) – some service open on the Internet that my device can easily request data from, for example the weather, blockchain transactions, or new email notifications.

Occasionally, I end up with a type of data that requires processing or is not well structured for storage on these services, or else I need a device to request data that is private or that no one is presently offering. Most commonly, I need to change some parameter in a few connected devices without the trouble of finding them, opening all the cases, and reprogramming them all.

At these times it’s useful to be able to build simple, short-lived services that fill in these gaps during prototyping. Far from being a secure or consumer-ready product, we just need something we can try out to see if an idea is worth developing further. There are many valid ways to do this, but my first choice is Web2Py, a relatively easy to use open-source framework for developing web applications in Python. It supports both Python 2.7 and 3.0, although we’ll be using Python 3 today.

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Python 3000 officially released


Python 3000 has officially been released. The final bug, Issue2306, “Update What’s new in 3.0” has been closed. Python 3000, py3k, Python 3.0, is a major release for the community. [Jeremy Hylton] pegs the earliest mention of the beast to January 2000. The new release has grown from PEP 3000, opened April 2006.

Py3k breaks backwards compatibility with previous releases in order to reduce feature duplication and promote one obvious way of getting things done. The first major change is that print is now a builtin function and not a statement. int and long have been unified, and integer division now returns a float. Py3k uses concepts of “text” and “data” instead of “Unicode strings” and “8-bit strings”. You can read about many of the changes in What’s New In Python 3.0. Some new features have been backported to Python 2.6 so you can start implementing them in your current code to ease the transition. 2.6 also has the -3 command line switch to warn you about features that are being removed or changed. Finally, the tool 2to3 is a source-to-source translator that should automate a lot of the changes.

Documentation for the new release is online. Source packages and binaries are available now.

[via johl]