O'Reilly

Using the GitHub API and PHP to Get Repository Information

By on  

GitHub is an awesome place to host your open source project code. MooTools, Prototype, and jQuery all use GitHub. As you probably know, the MooTools Forge requires your plugins be hosted on GitHub. The only problem with hosting all my MooTools plugins is that I lose traffic when I want people to see my code. Problem solved: use PHP, the GitHub API, and PHP Markdown to display files of my choice on my website.

Our goals with this code will be to:

  • Connect to GitHub via the API to retrieve repository information.
  • Retrieve the content of two files from the repository: a source file and the README.md Markdown file.
  • Cache the information for a given period of time to reduce the load on GitHub.
  • Use PHP Markdown to output a formatted README.md file.

I know that seems like a lot of work but you'll be amazed at how easy the process is.

PHP MarkDown

You may download PHP Markdown at Michel Fortin's website. It's simple and full of features.

The PHP

The first step is to build a PHP function that will connect to GitHub using cURL:

/* gets url */
function get_content_from_github($url) {
	$ch = curl_init();
	curl_setopt($ch,CURLOPT_URL,$url);
	curl_setopt($ch,CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER,1); 
	curl_setopt($ch,CURLOPT_CONNECTTIMEOUT,1);
	$content = curl_exec($ch);
	curl_close($ch);
	return $content;
}

Next we need to define a few settings:

/* static settings */
$plugin = 'Overlay';
$cache_path = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'].'/plugin-cache/';
$cache_file = $plugin.'-github.txt';
$github_json = get_repo_json($cache_path.$cache_file,$plugin);

The next step is to create another PHP function that grabs the repository information (JSON-encoded, because I love JSON) -- either fresh from GitHub (by first grabbing the most recent commit hash, then grabbing the contents of the two files) or our local cached information:

/* gets the contents of a file if it exists, otherwise grabs and caches */
function get_repo_json($file,$plugin) {
	//vars
	$current_time = time(); $expire_time = 24 * 60 * 60; $file_time = filemtime($file);
	//decisions, decisions
	if(file_exists($file) && ($current_time - $expire_time < $file_time)) {
		//echo 'returning from cached file';
		return json_decode(file_get_contents($file));
	}
	else {
		$json = array();
		$json['repo'] = json_decode(get_content_from_github('http://github.com/api/v2/json/repos/show/darkwing/'.$plugin),true);
		$json['commit'] = json_decode(get_content_from_github('http://github.com/api/v2/json/commits/list/darkwing/'.$plugin.'/master'),true);
		$json['readme'] = json_decode(get_content_from_github('http://github.com/api/v2/json/blob/show/darkwing/'.$plugin.'/'.$json['commit']['commits'][0]['parents'][0]['id'].'/Docs/'.$plugin.'.md'),true);
		$json['js'] = json_decode(get_content_from_github('http://github.com/api/v2/json/blob/show/darkwing/'.$plugin.'/'.$json['commit']['commits'][0]['parents'][0]['id'].'/Source/'.$plugin.'.js'),true);
		file_put_contents($file,json_encode($json));
		return $content;
	}
}

Once we've acquired the appropriate information, we output the information to screen:

/* build json */
if($github_json) {
	
	//get markdown
	include($_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'].'/wp-content/themes/walshbook3/PHP-Markdown-Extra-1.2.4/markdown.php');
	
	//build content
	$content = '

'.$github_json['repo']['repository']['description'].'

'; $content.= '

MooTools JavaScript Class

'.$github_json['js']['blob']['data'].'

'; $content.= trim(str_replace(array('',''),'',Markdown($github_json['readme']['blob']['data']))); }

That's all! Now I get the benefit of hosting my code on GitHub but displaying it on my own website. I've created a special WordPress template page to do so and recommend you do too!

Demo?

Visit my Projects page and click on the "Docs" link for any project. All of the information that comes up on individual project pages comes from GitHub. No more manual page creation!

Treehouse Learning

Recent Features

  • CSS Filters

    CSS filter support recently landed within WebKit nightlies. CSS filters provide a method for modifying the rendering of a basic DOM element, image, or video. CSS filters allow for blurring, warping, and modifying the color intensity of elements. Let's have...

  • Page Visibility API

    One event that's always been lacking within the document is a signal for when the user is looking at a given tab, or another tab. When does the user switch off our site to look at something else? When do they come back?...

Incredible Demos

  • 9 Mind-Blowing Canvas Demos

    The <canvas> element has been a revelation for the visual experts among our ranks.  Canvas provides the means for incredible and efficient animations with the added bonus of no Flash; these developers can flash their awesome JavaScript skills instead.  Here are nine unbelievable canvas demos that...

  • Color Palette Generator Using jQuery

    As I continue to learn jQuery, I think it's important that I begin by porting over scripts I've created using MooTools. One of those scripts is my Color Palette Generator script, which debuted on Eric Wendelin's blog. For those of you that...

Discussion

  1. Roy Sutton

    Very nice, exactly what I was looking for. I did notice that the last line of get_repo_json() should be return $json instead of return $content.

  2. Hi, nice article.
    I would love to try it, but your demo seems to fail.

  3. […] Github API has a method to render Markdown (PHP example), and DocumentUp can automatically generate  documentation pages/sites from Markdown, so some of […]

  4. […] Using the GitHub API and PHP to Get Repository Information […]

  5. David

    Is there a way to get the contents of a private repository through php if you have a user name and password and permissions on the repository? Any direction how to go about it?

Wrap your code in <pre class="{language}"></pre> tags, link to a GitHub gist, JSFiddle fiddle, or CodePen pen to embed!