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Josef Biehler
Josef Biehler

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Fetch tweets, download images and display them

In the last articles we created a static website with 11ty and configured travis-ci to deploy the site to a FTP server. Now we will look at the Twitter API and investigate how we can fetch tweets and display them in our 11ty page.


I already wrote about my motivation to fetch tweets here:


I publish my drawings on Twitter and I want to fetch the from there and publish them at my site. This reduces the effort to maintain that stuff.

Example: Please go to to see this how this can look like.

My idea

I publish a tweet with specific hashtags. If I use them all the time, I just have to look for the tweets that contain the hashtag drawing (or any other hashtag). The twitter API delivers only the latest 200 tweets so we need some kind of data store for the tweets.

I will do this:

  • load all tweets from tweets.json
  • get the highest id from all tweets
  • load all latest tweets that are older than maxId
  • merge the existing with the new ones
  • save them to tweets.json
  • provide all tweets to 11ty and use them in a template

Travis integration

In an ideal world the CI build runs every day and pushes the new tweets to the git repository. But that will be the subject of one of the following articles.

Get Access to Twitter API

Twitter provides a very good documentation. So feel free to take a look into it!

  • Log into the twitter developer page
  • create an app Create app
  • fill out the required fields Mandatory fields

Then you get access tokens and secret keys. Please write them down because they are not displayed again after you close the page!


Fetching tweets

I want all tweets from my own account but exclude retweets and answers. This can be done with user_timeline.

// project/first/twitter.js#L15-L22

timeline = await client.get("statuses/user_timeline", {
    screen_name: "JosefBiehler",
    exclude_replies: true,
    include_rts: false,
    tweet_mode: "extended",
    count: 30,
    //since_id: <id of the latest tweet stored on your disc> 

Note the parameter since_id. It is used later to retrieve only tweets that are newer than those stored in the JSON file.

The result does not contain a completely filled tweet. To retrieve the full text, the hashtags and all media items related to the tweet, you must use show:

// project/first/twitter.js#L24-L29

for (var i = 0; i < timeline.length; i++) {
    let tweet = timeline[i];
    timeline[i] = await client.get(`statuses/show/${tweet.id_str}`, {
        tweet_mode: "extended"

The relevant structure looks like this:

    entities: {
        hashtags: [
            { text: "" }
    full_text: "complete text of the tweet",
    created_at: <date of the tweet>,
    id_str: "<id as string, use this instead of 'id'>",
    extended_entities: {
        media: [
                media_url: "<url to image>"

Please note the field id_str. During my tests I discovered that id differs from id_str. I think this is because Javascript can not handle such big numbers, so I use id_str and convert it explicit to BigInt.

The first test

The code above is sufficient for displaying the tweet, it's hashtags and it's image. But when you render more than just a few on your page, you will encounter massive performance problems. The images will load very slowly.

Try it out!

first try

Performance considerations

You should keep your images locally. Not only because of the mentioned performance issues but also because it is not fair to use Twitter as image hosting service ;-)

To download them, I selected the npm package request. The code is very simple:

// project/download/downloader.js

const request = require("request");
const fs = require("fs");

function download(twitterUrl, id) {
    const ext = twitterUrl.split("\.").reverse()[0];

    return new Promise(resolve => {
        const path = `/data/${id}.${ext}`;
        const stream = fs.createWriteStream(`.${path}`);
        stream.on("finish", () => resolve(path));

module.exports = download;

It takes the twitter url, downloads the content and stores the result anywhere.

The twitter code must be slightly adjusted. Also in this more complex example I load the tweets outside of the eleventy config to avoid too heavy load during eleventy startup.

// project/download/twitter.js#L46-L54

for (var i = 0; i < results.length; i++) {
    const x = results[i];
    if (!x.mediaUrl) {
    const path = await download(x.mediaUrl,;
    x.twitterMediaUrl = x.mediaUrl;
    x.mediaUrl = path;

Again you can test the full example.

As mentioned in the beginning, in my real portfolio project I fetch the latest tweet from the JSON file and pass the biggest tweet id as parameter since_id to the Twitter API.


I showed you quickly how you can use the twitter API. Also you learned how you can download the media files from a tweet for a more performant website. And last but not least you get a clue how to use that in combination with eleventy.

Feel free to try out both example projects and let me know what you think about this topic.

What is next

Unfortunately I had to rework the publishing process. The FTP strategy does not work. Also I want to show you how I use eleventy to build a more complex design.

Found a typo?

As I am not a native English speaker, it is very likely that you will find an error. In this case, feel free to create a pull request here: . Also please open a PR for all other kind of errors.

Do not worry about merge conflicts. I will resolve them on my own.

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