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



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:


$client = new Google_Client();
$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:


$client = new Google_Client();
$client->setAccessType('offline');// last forever/give me a refresh
$client->setApprovalPrompt('force');// force a refresh token return everytime

Apparently, using


is supposed to imply


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

In the end my full Google_Client setup looks like:


        $client = new Google_Client();
        $client->setAccessType('offline');// asks for a refresh token
        $client->setApprovalPrompt('force');// forces the refresh token being returned

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

Some Random Useful Things

Some random useful things:

Twitter, is scrapping Basic Auth! Which means no more simple curl calls, its on to OAuth.

Check out for how to update your Apps/Usage, and for a handy countdown.

In other twitter news, I use Notifo to forward my twitter replies to my iPhone, which uses to grab the stream. Twitter has currently borked @Replies both in apps and on the website, however Notifo announced they have updated their website with a new design, (hurrah), and a desktop client (further hurrah).
So with my mac and growl I now get Growl @ Responses….. SUCCESS!

Thats enough twitter! I was linked in a random IRC channel to, which is a sort of real time code and run/test interface for several different javascript libs, including MooTools, and jQuery. Its currently in Alpha and under “heavy development”, so far I have found it quite useful, since it saves a lot of time in prototyping something. Looking forward to when they add user accounts, will be easier to track my own fiddles, heres the 5th version of me fiddling with jQuery UI tabs yes it has basic version control!

Facebook next, came across this today: pretty much nails the coffin shut on FBML and suggests that we will all be using iFrames instead….

Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, since iFrames are not always the most secure of things, but will make sending more upto date stuff to a Facebook page easier. And no longer stuck with Facebook caching, which in itself is a useful thing….

Also they are moving to a larger oauth setting with the use of oauth version 2! And scrapping their Rest API.

So there is a lot of change going on within two of the larger things I have been involved with (in terms of building things for clients), so in this vein when is the Last.FM api moving to oAuth too, tho it does use a token based Auth now?!

I’m gonna need to do a lot of recoding/refactoring for things that use FBML and basic Auth….

Is oAuth the future for all API’s? What do you think?


O and I am going to invest in one of these!