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How To Build A Powerful App For Live News And More

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Would you like to enhance your application with news data from thousands of international news publishers and blogs, updated as often as every single minute? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a FREE, Simple REST API for Live News & Blog Articles?

In this article, we will see how fast and easy it is to use IDE software and Delphi to create a FireMonkey multi-device application using the LowCode Wizard in addition to a REST client library to take advantage of MediaStack API and retrieve a JSON format response for worldwide news, headlines and blog articles in real-time.

What can the MediaStack API do for our apps?

MediaStack API offers instant access to live news data feeds, discover trends & headlines, monitor brands and access breaking news events around the world. This is possible to be done for free (up to first 500 calls/month; no credit card required) and much more is available at very affordable prices and scalable to the use you make with no upfront commitments. Every minute, the MediaStack API interface is automatically collecting news articles from 7,500+ global news sources and blogs worldwide, parsing it and converting it into a standardized programmatic format for the purpose of ease of use. In order to ensure the highest possible level of accuracy and data consistency, each of the sources used is monitored closely and around the clock for technical or content anomalies. Additional news sources are added continuously as they become available.

Our RAD Studio and Delphi applications will be able to call the API and request information based on the name of parameters you provide.

How do I set up the MediaStack API?

Make sure you refer to MediaStack API website (https://mediaStack.com/) and and sign up for the free plan providing only your email and some basic information (no credit card required). Once you are in the website will redirect you to a Quickstart guide dashboard and your API Access Key will be provided. The Access Key unique, personal and is required to authenticate with the API. Keep it safe!

How do I call MediaStack API endpoints?

Now all we need to do is to call the API base URL (http://api.mediaStack.com/) via a HTTP POST method with no JSON request body needed and some few requested parameters added to the URL address depending on the ednpoint we choose to call. One can do that using REST Client libraries available on several programming languages.

MediaStack offers two API endpoints to choose from:

  • News Data: Get live & historical news data
  • News Sources: Get a list of news sources

Our demo will focus on the Live News Endpoint but all the others follow similar logic but with different parameters passed. For a complete and detailed list of endpoints and its parameters make sure you refer to MediaStack Quickstart guide (https://mediaStack.com/quickstart)

What does the MediaStack API endpoint return?

After the call the main results will be a very complete list with news filtered based on the parameters you sent. The list below shows the first two results I got when I called the API with parameters categories=sports, language=en and sources=cnn.

How do I connect my applications to MediaStack API?

Once you have followed basic steps to set up the MediaStack API we need to make sure we are able to connect and communicate with it before we start writing some code.

RAD Studio Delphi and C++Builder make it very easy to connect to APIs as you can you REST Debugger to automatically create the REST components and paste them into your app.

In Delphi all the job is done using 3 components tot make the API call. They are the TRESTClient, TRESTRequest, and TRESTResponse. Once you connect the REST Debugger successfully, copy and past the components you will notice that the API URL is set on the BaseURL of TRESTClient. On the TRESTRequest component you will see that the request type is set to rmPOST, the ContentType is set to ctAPPLICATION_JSON, and that it contains one request body for the POST.

Run your RAD Studio Delphi and on the main menu click on Tools > REST Debbuger. Configure the REST Debugger as follows marking the content-type as application/json, and adding the POST url, the JSON request body and the API key you created. Once you click the Send Request button you should see the JSON response, just like we demonstrated below.

Examining the MediaStack API REST return values

How To Build A Powerful App For Live News And More connecting to the mediastack API

How do I build a Firemonkey Multidevice (Windows/MacOS desktop or Android/iOS mobile) application using the MediaStack API?

Low code app development is increasingly popular today, and for good reason: it speaks to the demand for software paired with the difficulty of creating it. In many ways, Delphi led the low code revolution: RAD, where you build software by connecting components in a visual designer, is low code. The key with many low code solutions is extensibility: low code which cannot be extended to a traditionally coded app has a hard upper limit of functionality. If you’re a technology adviser, you do not want to recommend something which will limit your client or company. The best development solutions that target low code provide an avenue to grow and extend. In this too, Delphi excels.

Until recently in Delphi you still had to create a new project and create the forms or screens yourself – no matter how little code you may have to write to get powerful functionality when you did. This is something we’ve now addressed with an addon to 10.4.2. Run your RAD Studio Delphi and on the main menu click on Tools > GetIt Package Manager. In GetIt for 10.4.2 and later search for “Low Code App Wizard for FireMonkey”, our technology for cross-platform applications or click here: https://getitnow.embarcadero.com/firemonkey-app-low-code-wizard/

Using the RAD Studio FireMonkey LowCode App Wizard

How To Build A Powerful App For Live News And More using the lowcode wizard

Now that you have installed Low Code App Wizard for FireMonkey and that you were able to sucessfully configure and test your API calls on the REST Debbuger, go back to the REST Debbuger and click the Copy Components button. Open RAD Studio Delphi and on the main menu click File > New> Multi-Device Application Delphi, select the Firemonkey Template App as shown below and follow some simples Wizard steps to create your Low Code application.

The FireMonkey Template App get created in a few seconds

How To Build A Powerful App For Live News And More pick the FireMonkey template

The result will be a fully functional cross-platform application, which already contains basic functionality that every mobile app will need — you can run and use the app as is — and hooks to build more, plus demonstrates application development best practices with a very clean extensible design to add more screens with low code, plus a set of tests to ensure your app remains high quality as you customize it.

How can I customize the RAD Studio FireMonkey LowCode Wizard App?

The app that Delphi builds for you is configurable through the wizard and you can choose any set of the following:

  • User accounts: sign up, sign in, and a profile screen, with hooks for your own authentication
  • Settings screen (where you can change the app theme (light or dark), plus some example settings you can reuse or extend)
  • Contacts screen
  • Terms of Use, About, and Privacy policy screens, easily configurable for your own data
  • A database layer: using Interbase, store data in your app
  • An example new screen you can use as a template or example for adding new functionality

As you can see the Wizard saves you a lot of time as it creates a complete project with many forms ready for you to implement the code. Open the recently created NewFormFrame and hit Ctrl+V in order to paste the components you copied from REST Debbuger. This acction will result in three components added to the the form RESTClient1, RESTRequest1 and RESTResponse1.

Adding some code to the button click events

Now we will simply add very simple code to a TButton OnClick event to make sure every thing is configured correctly and voila! In five minutes we have made our very first call to MediaStack API and we are able to receive JSON response for whatever parameter we want.

The sample application features a TEdit as a place to paste in the access key and additional TEdit for each parameter, a TMemo to display the JSON results of the REST API call. Now you have every thing you need in order to interate with the response data and make your application process the information and present it visually in the way it better suits your needs!

Here are the results of the REST API calls

How To Build A Powerful App For Live News And More REST results in the app

In this blog post we’ve seen how to sign up for the MediaStack API in order to get instant access to structured and readable news data. We’ve seen how to use the RAD Studio REST Debugger to connect to the endpoint and copy that code into a real application. And finally we’ve seen how easy and fast it is to use RAD Studio Delphi and the Low Code App Wizard for FireMonkey to create a real Multidevice (Windows/MacOS desktop or Android/iOS mobile) application which connects to the API and retrives the data ready for you to iterate!

You can download the full working example code from here: https://github.com/checkdigits/NewsApp_MediaStackAPI_Example

Why not try out the LowCode App Wizard for yourself by downloading a free RAD Studio Delphi trial today? It’s so easy (and super fast) to use!

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