Twitch Extensions: Part 1 – An Introduction

This is the first part of a I don’t know how many parts series on Twitch Extensions. We’ll cover how to develop them, how to EBS them, some notes on Designing and what to avoid, some practicies for after release care, and touch on some marketing ideas/things for your Extension Website.

So since this is the first part, we’ll cover the basics first. What, Where, Who, How, and Why of an Extension

[caption id="attachment_51846" align="aligncenter" width="740"]When is Gamora Why is Gamora[/caption]

This is the first part of a I don’t know how many parts series on Twitch Extensions. We’ll cover how to develop them, how to EBS them, some notes on Designing and what to avoid, some practices for after release care, and touch on some marketing ideas/things for your Extension Website.

So since this is the first part, we’ll cover the basics first. What, Where, Who, How, and Why of an Extension

When is Gamora
Why is Gamora

What is a Twitch Extension

A Twitch Extension is basically an iFrame that allows a developer to create anything they want, as long as it fits within the Guidelines set out by Twitch, and of course it’s Terms of Service and Developer Agreements

This can range from MiniGames, to QnA/Polling extensions, to Community information extensions, to game information extensions, or play with the Streamer extensions

Some examples include

  • Sound Alerts – Lets users pick a sound to play on Stream, can be free or utilize bits/channel points
  • Crowd Control – Provides plugins for a variety of games, to allow people to interact with the game, make it easier/harder for the Broadcaster
  • Cardboard.live – Lets viewers see what cards are in your current deck, and check the state of the game board, without having to spam/ask in chat
  • Borderlands 3 ECHOcast – Lets viewers check out your Borderlands 3 character, and let viewers win extra loot for their own character when the Broadcaster opens Red Chests in game
  • Detroit: Community Play – Ask the community to pick/vote on the option when a multiple choice question appears during the game play of Detroit: Become Human.
  • The Cohhilition – A community interaction extension, that provides access to various Community things (in this case for a single channel), without having the viewer leave the comfort of the Twitch page

Some of these descriptions are super simple to cover the salient points and many will do more things than my summary covers

Check out more extensions at Twitch’s own Extension Discovery

Where is a Twitch Extension

Twitch being a live streaming site, provides to the Broadcaster, a page, and that page will consist of a number of elements.

Depending on if the streamer is live or not the elements on the page will vary slightly. If the Broadcaster is live, you’ll land on the video/chat page, if the Broadcaster is not live, you’ll land on a “Home”/index style page

Now the part that we care about is the “Chat”/live view page, and on that page you will find a number of sections

An example of a Twitch Channel Page
An example of a Twitch Channel Page
  • The Video Player
  • The live Chat
  • The Stream information section – The Title and Category
  • A small about the Broadcaster section
  • The Panels section

A Twitch Extension can be added to a couple of these sections, and has 3 main (and two auxiliary) integration points.

The Main Integration points

  • Video Overlay – The Extension can cover/utilize the whole of the video player
  • Panel – The Extension appears in the panels section below the stream, and has width of 318px and a maximum height of 500px
  • Video Component – Basically a panel that appears over the video player but is locked to the right hand side of the player, it can utilize a varied amount of the player space

The “main” integration points are mutually exclusive, an Extension can only occupy any one of those slots at once

The Auxiliary Integration points

An example of a mobile extension on iOS
An example of a mobile extension on iOS
  • Mobile Panel – The Extension is available on mobile for mobile users to interact, it will replace the chat, and dimensions wise basically similar to a panel on PC (in terms of ratio), but you would have to consider landscape views on tablets as well.
  • Panel popout – Panel Extensions can be opened in a new window and can be resized by the user at will

An extension can be in one of the “main” integration points, and the mobile point.

Who is a Twitch Extension

As part of being on Twitch, extensions are able to use a number of Extension Features, as well as doing more “regular” Twitch stuff. You could run a regular chat bot that runs with your extension, the Twitch Extension Timeout with bits does this in order to run the actual timeout commands on users

So aside from the “regular” stuff like chat bots, Twitch Extensions have access to some additional features

  • Bits Support – Allow Viewers, to exchange bits (a digital good) for various “digital goods” inside Extensions, this could range from an extra vote in polling extensions, or picking a victim in “Timeout With Bits”, or a cool cloak for your character in a game. Revenue generate here is split 80/20 between the Broadcaster/Developer.
  • Subscription Support – Allows the Extension to check the subscription status of a viewer on the channel the extension is installed to, avoiding the need for the Extension Developer to get and maintain oAuth access tokens from the Broadcaster “separately” to the install process of the Extension
  • Identitiy Link – Allows viewers to “login’ to your extension, we’ll cover this more in a later post in the series
  • Chat Capabilities – Allow the Extension to send chat messages (via a HTTP POST request), usually used as a notification system to prompt viewers to perform an action in the extension, like a new poll has started, go vote, for example
  • The Configuration Service – We’ll cover this in a later post as well, but it’s a way to store data on Twitch’s server that you can use in the extension, this might be something like, the name of the Broadcasters Character in a game that you would use in an API request to get information about the character
  • Streamer Allowlist – allows the Extension Developer to restrict whom can install the Extension to their channel

We’ll cover each Capability/feature in future blog posts in the series

How is a Twitch Extension

We’ll cover this more, in depth in later posts, a Twitch Extension is a bundle of files uploaded to the Extension CDN (Content Delivery Network). This needs to include your HTML, JS, CSS, and any static images you want to store on the CDN (pretty handy for background images for panel extensions). Twitch has some restrictions on what an extension can load from external sources, but essentially images are fine, CSS/JS is not, CSS/JS must be local/included.

Those files are uploaded to a sub domain of Twitch, into a particular sub folder tree on that sub domain, which we will cover more in depth in a later post, when we talk about building extensions and a suitable way to test them and some related gotchas.

All Twitch Extensions have their bundles uploaded to the Twitch and before they are released (or updated) to the masses, the Twitch Extension Review team will review the Extension, to ensure it works as intended, there is no major bugs effecting activation, the Extension compiles with the Guidelines and Terms of Services, and most importantly contains nothing malicious to interfere with the Twitch website or the viewer using the extension Computer/device

A Twitch Extension is allowed to communicate offsite, the resource just has to be secured over SSL, this is commonly referred to as an EBS or Extension Backend Service, we’ll cover this more later as well!

Why is a Twitch Extensions?

But Why is a Twitch Extension (any use) I hear you cry?

A Twitch Extension provides ways for the Streamers Community to perform rich interactions, without leaving the Twitch Broadcasters page, which means you keep the Viewer watching the Stream or interacting with Chat, with relatively easy access to Twitch API’s, without long additional steps for Viewer Authentication

Summary

That is it for Part 1 in this series on Twitch Extensions, I’ve cover the basic What, Where, Who, How of Twitch Extensions

Parts will either be weekly or bi-weekly, we will see how we go!

BUT MOTHER I CRAVE VIOLENCE

Well, until I write the next part if you want to read more about the Developer Side of Extensions, you can pop a visit over the to the Documentation or take a look at Twitch’s Introductory Page and you can always join us on the “TwitchDev Discord Server”, visit the Developer Support Page for the current invite link!

Were the sub headings supposed to make sense? No not really.

Why you think you are good enough to even write blog posts on Extensions? I made a one or two of them Extensions of various types.

How does Twitch’s new EventSub work?

Preamble

In the beginning, Twitch created Webhooks. And the world rejoiced, finally we no longer have to long poll for things such as followers! Hurrah! But it came with a gotcha, since Twitch Webhooks is based on the Websub specification, each and every Webhook you wanted to listen to had to be renewed, now this is limited to 10 days (max) or the time remainging on the Token you authenticate with (when asking to listen to priviledge topics such as subscribers), which generally meant you had to remake certain subscriptions every 4 hours, after of course renewing the token with the refresh token. Since the maximum length of a Twitch user token is 4 hours. (Implicit tokens use 60 days, but you can’t refresh those).

This wasn’t a good solution for developers, since it creates siginificant load, and “wasting” of your rate limits with Helix. Even more so when working with multiiple streamers.

Twitch has acknowledged this as a problem, which leads us to the new product of EventSub.

Aside from ignoring the need to remake your subscriptions periodically, EventSub also doesn’t need a correspoding Helix endpoint to exist for the topic you wish to listen on (this also means a different format for the data payloads), and means EventSub can make new topic types without waiting for Helix to create the endpoint first.

So, now onwards to the meat of this post!

EventSub, hows does it work?

The long and short of it, is that everything is sent via HTTP Post requests, to your SSL protected endpoint.

Unlike Webhooks, Eventsub only authenticates using App Access Tokens (for server to server requests), but how does this work when you are attempting subscribe to a channels new Subscribers topic, or the Ban/timeout events topics?

Authentication

Well, when you make a subscription request to EventSub, Twitch looks at your App Access token, then checks in the background if the requested broadcaster has connected to your Application at any point, with the relevant scopes, and not revoked that connection.

So, it’s a “two legged” approach to authentication. But means that you, the developer, don’t need to store the broadcasters access or refresh tokens, after they have authorised. though you generally would in order to perform “catch up” if your application goes offline/restarts for any reason.

Infrastructure

So to utilise EventSub, you need to create a portal that allows broadcasters to grant access to your Application to their account with the relevant scopes, using “regular” User Authentication.

Then on authentication you check/create eventsub subscriptions as needed, using your App Access Token. You should also store and use the returned User Acces token for use on catchups

And you need a server that can recieve HTTP Posts from Twitch for verification of the connection and accepting data payloads. (Generlly here you’ll HTTP 2xx OK as quickly as possible and send the data into background processes.

TLDR: for example if you can call Get Broadcaster Subscriptions (at the moment you obtained the Access Token) then your ClientID can subscribe to the channel.subscribe EventSub.

Summary

Hopefully this should help out anyone that is new to EventSub or getting involved with the Twitch Channel Points Hackathon.

Since many people may look at EventSub to recieve new Channel point redemptions but might trip up over the initial authentication setup.

There are a number of examples on my GitHub that might help, but if you need any further help, please join us on the TwitchDev Discord Server!

Just thought I would write up this post with a ramble of notes on how EventSub Authentication works, since theres gonna be a spike in people asking and probably getting stuck if they are new to working with Twitch.

Twitch API Examples

I spend a lot of time on the Twitch Developer forums and Discord helping out other third party developers. That among other things led to me being asked to become a Twitch Ambassador, which is probably a story for another post.

As part of spending a lot of time helping of Forums/Discord, it become useful to write up some examples in various languages for people to refer to, since some people prefer code examples over documentation, and it’s easier to demonstrate how to tie multiple calls/endpoints together for the desired result.

To that end my GitHub Repo at barrycarlyon/twitch_misc now exists and holds examples from Authentication flows (from Implicit to server access and regular user in-between), extension config/pubsub, and examples for Webhooks and the new Eventsub (which is worth a look!). So if you are looking for some examples do checkout the Repository. Some of the examples can even be tested on GitHub itself via GitHub pages, the examples available are listed in the readme and at the Github Pages site.

Twitch also recently made the requirement that all calls to helix (aka the New API) need to be Authenticated using a Bearer, which made it difficult for Extensions to get the viewers details. So to that end I created a basic example of how to do that in an Extension with a “User Profile Extension” example. Which is at BarryCarlyon/twitch_profile_extension. So this covers a good way to handle that flow.

Right now most of the examples are nodeJS, or PHP, but there are some in Python kicking about!

I’ll be looking at adding more examples and other examples in other languages as we go!

I’m usually really bad at commenting my code as I prefer reading the code, but I made a conscious effort to add useful code comments on these repos!

The Future and all things change?!

Long time no write.

Hopefully gonna start writing again, (not the first time I’ve said that, so we’ll see how we go!)

Anywho, I do currently find myself unemployed after quitting my previous Job on Monday, nothing on my part but the actions of others leading to the actions of others forcing my hand.

I am currently deciding what to do next!

If you know whom I used to work for you can go look it up yourself, I don’t feel the need to talk about it myself.

I am continuing to do various bits and pieces for the Streamers I work with on Twitch, so nothing has changed there, I’m just out of full time work!

Watch this space is the TLDR!

In the mean time, go checkout my Twitch Extensions

Google oAuth and offline access

Been doing a lot of various stuff and things for CohhCarnage and some of that stuff has involved building an achievements tracking system for the website.

One of those achievements, is for YouTube Subscription. Where the achievement is awarded to the logged in user, if the user has subscribed to a given YouTube channel, in this case Cohh’s YouTube.

In order to make sure that people can’t “cheat” the system, we ask them to link their Google/YouTube account with the website and use the relevant API to look up their Subscription status.

Initially this worked fine, but I ran into some issues where the oAuth token stored has expired and thus I can’t do a status check, for cases where the user links their YouTube to their Cohhilition Account then doesn’t subscribe on YouTube until after 24 hours later (or some caching issue with Google).

So, the simple fix using Googles PHP Library for oAuth’ing is to just do a

<?php

$client->setAccessType('offline')

Now, this works fine for the most part, you happily get a refresh token, and can thus renew your token.

Then comes a hiccup, if for whatever reason you have offline access type on, and the user has previously authorised the application and it’s offline permission, you DON’T get a refresh token in some cases. Some user cases include:

  • you’ve lost their token,
  • or got a bad one
  • or the user managed to find the authentication loop (again) when they shouldn’t, and thus a new code/token combo is generated

Normally you are using something like:

<?php

$client = new Google_Client();
$client->setClientId($client_id);
$client->setClientSecret($client_secret);
$client->setRedirectUri($redirect_uri);
$client->addScope("email");
$client->addScope("profile"); 
$client->setAccessType('offline');// last forever/give me a refresh

But in order to make sure that you get a refresh_token EVERY time someone goes through the authentication loop, you have to adjust as follows:

<?php

$client = new Google_Client();
$client->setClientId($client_id);
$client->setClientSecret($client_secret);
$client->setRedirectUri($redirect_uri);
$client->addScope("email");
$client->addScope("profile"); 
$client->setAccessType('offline');// last forever/give me a refresh
$client->setApprovalPrompt('force');// force a refresh token return everytime

Apparently, using

'offline'

is supposed to imply

'force'

according to some Stack Overflows posts, but this doesn’t seem the case.

In the end my full Google_Client setup looks like:

<?php

        $client = new Google_Client();
        $client->setAuthConfig($consumer);
        $client->addScope('profile');
        $client->addScope('email');
        $client->addScope('https://www.googleapis.com/auth/youtube.readonly');
        $client->setAccessType('offline');// asks for a refresh token
        $client->setApprovalPrompt('force');// forces the refresh token being returned
        $client->setIncludeGrantedScopes(true);
        $client->setRedirectUri($callback);

Just an odd thing I came across recently that I thought I would write up. Most of the notes here are from Stack Overflow post on the subject