Thursday, March 15, 2012

YouTube, Google+, the API, and You

Update (April 2012): The last paragraph was changed to reflect the distinct yt:display and display attribute names, depending on whether the parent element is media:credit or yt:username.

By now, you may have read about the recent launch of connecting a Google+ profile with a new YouTube channel and questioned whether the change will affect YouTube Data API responses and, consequently, your application. The API does have a couple of changes that affect the way account names are returned, and these changes are designed to be backward compatible with applications that follow the best practices defined in our compatibility guidelines.

With that in mind, this post explains how to ensure that user names function properly in your application.

  • Avoid manually generating links to related feeds — instead, extract URLs for related feeds from <link> or <gd:feedLink> elements. For instance, the profile entry for a given account contains a <gd:feedLink> element with a rel attribute of, and that element's href attribute contains the URL for that account’s playlists.

  • If you do need to manually generate a feed URL that is not for the default user, use the value in the <yt:username> element as the username in the feed URL. Other fields, like <author>, might contain a display name or a different identifier that is not appropriate for use in a feed URL.

    Note that for accounts that have connected a Google+ profile to a new YouTube channel and for
    Google Accounts without a linked YouTube account, the <yt:username> field will not be a traditional YouTube username. Instead, it will be a globally unique identifier that isn't intended for display in a user interface. A new field, <yt:userId>, will always contain this globally unique identifier regardless of the account type, and if you are writing new code to specifically deal with that identifier, we recommend reading it from <yt:userId>.

  • Any existing code that relies on displaying the <yt:username> or <media:credit> value to users should instead switch to using a value taken from one of that element's attributes. On the <yt:username> element, the relevant attribute is called display. On the <media:credit> element, the corresponding attribute is called yt:display. The display or yt:display attribute value will always be a meaningful value suitable for display. For accounts connected to Google+, it will be set to the full public display name. For full YouTube accounts that aren’t connected to Google+, it will be set to the YouTube account name.

–Jeff Posnick, YouTube API Team