Python Bits — Writing an Imgur Album downloader

- 3 mins

This is the first in the series of Python blog posts I’m “hoping” to write. In this particular one I’ll write a simple python script to download whole Imgur albums to your local hard drive. I’ll be continuing on this code and explain how to add threads, later we’ll convert threads to “async await” style, and finally create a standalone python package.

A while back I stumbled upon this Digital Ocean wallpaper album from reddit. Never being by satisfied with just one, I went on to save all of them one by one (which in itself is quite a boring process). Sure, I could have used a dozen Imgur album downloaders from the Internet, but what’s the fun in that. So, I thought of writing another one, and that too in Python, which I can run through my terminal.

I started by first searching for Imgur API docs, and a quick google search led me to the official Imgur API Python bindings. It was quite simple to use the Imgur python package, all you had to do was register over here to get your client secret and id.

I found an API get_album_images which when given an album id will give me a list of image hyperlinks. I can then loop through them and simply download them using the all powerful Python requests library.

You can get the required album id from the url itself. If you see closely at the link below, you’ll see that the album id is usually the last few letters after the /a/ sub-url.

https://imgur.com/a/q6i58

Downloading a file using requests library is a little tricky, what we’ll have to do is a GET request to our image with a special option stream=True. When this option is given, instead of downloading the link immediately, requests would defer the download and we can iterate over the request one chunk at a time and save it to a file. Since we’re always consuming the whole request we don’t need to call Response.Close

To create your environment you’ll need to install the following python packages:

# Install these using pip in a virtual environment preferably
imgurpython
progressbar2
requests

Here’s the solution I came up with :

You’ll notice a weird function get_extension which depends upon a cryptic regex r’\.(\w+)$’, what this regex is doing is trying to find the last word after a “.”(dot) character, which we can safely assume to be the extension of our image.

It’s simple and gets the job done, but it’s hard to tell how many images it has downloaded till now, it needed a progress bar.

So, let’s add one. For doing that we use a handy library for adding a progress bar.

It’s very easy to add a progress bar using the above utility, the only thing that we want to do is wrap our items list with a ProgressBar instance, and just loop normally. Let me clear what I said using some code:

In our case, instead of iterating over numbers, we’ll iterate over the list of images we’re downloading. Also, while we’re doing that, why not abstract away the code actually downloading the images to a separate function (This will help us in creating a threaded version of our code as well):

To run this code first set the IMGUR_CLIENT_ID and IMGUR_CLIENT_SECRET environment variables with the values provided by Imgur. Then you can simply use Python to call this script and pass the album id as a command line argument

python imgur_download.py q6i58

The code as it stands currently is too slow, this is due to the fact that the images are being download sequentially. In the next post, we’ll use threads to speed it up by processing downloads in parallel.

Kartik Anand

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