Facebook Photos Task


Facebook Photos Task extracts a recent list of photos uploaded by a given Facebook ID.


Configuring Facebook Photos Task

Similarly to adding other SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) tasks, the Facebook Photos Task shown in Figure 1 can be added onto the Control Flow pane in the following manner;

  1. Drag-and-drop the Facebook Photos Task into the Control Flow, or
  2. Double clicking the Facebook Photos Task
Facebook Photos Task - SSIS Toolbox

Figure 1

By default the Facebook Photos Task will throw validation errors shown in Figure 2.

Facebook Photos Task - Validation Error

Figure 2

To resolve the validation errors, we need to configure the Facebook Photos Task by using its editor (Facebook Photos Task Editor).

Facebook Photos Task Editor

The Facebook Photos Task has four parameters:

  1. Facebook ID – Facebook ID to search for. It has a maximum character value of 500 and default value is 160836574053016. For information on how to retrieve a Facebook ID, see Facebook Search Task
  2. Count – Number of photos to return. The maximum value is 100 and the default value is 20. Please note that if you specify a higher value, the greater are the chances of the Facebook Photos Task taking longer to execute.
  3. Save To – Path wherein the generated file will be stored. If you can, try to keep the length of the path as short as possible.
  4. Save As – Only JSON file type is supported. There are many tools and applications available on the internet to deserialise the JSON file. We recommend also considering using JSON built-in functions in SQL Server 2016.

Set Absolute Values

Providing absolute values for the parameters refers to hardcoding the values into the textboxes. This basically means that everytime you execute the task you have to manually set the Facebook ID parameter value like I have manually entered 102038129831681 shown in Figure 4.

Facebook Photos Task - Absolute Values

Figure 4

Dynamically Set Values using Expressions

Instead of manually capturing values for the parameters, we can dynamically set them using package expressions. Expressions reads data from package variables at runtime. To configure expressions, click the Ex button. This will open up a Choose Variable dialog box. You can then select the variable you want to use and click the OK button.

Facebook Photos Task - Choose Varriable

Once you have clicked the OK button, you will be redirected back to the Facebook Photos Task with textboxes set to variable names.

Facebook Photos Task - Expressions

Executing Facebook Photos Task

The execution of the Facebook Photos Task is usually quick. Similarly to executing other SSIS tasks, the simplest way of executing Facebook Photos Task is to right-click your mouse button, navigate to and click Execute Task option as shown in Figure 7.

Facebook Photos Task - Execute Task

Figure 7

If the configuration is done correctly, the Facebook Photos Task execution should be successful as shown in Figure 8.

Facebook Photos Task - Execution

Figure 8

The file generated after executing the Facebook Photos Task is shown in Figure 9 and it is prefixed with SST_FBPhotos_ followed by a date and time stamp.

Facebook Photos Task - Flat File

Figure 9

A preview of the data contained in the file shown in Figure 9 is shown in Figure 10.

Facebook Photos Task - Flat File Preview

Figure 10

Additional information

Additional Informational & Progress Events

Facebook Photos Task - Package Progress

Figure 11

As the Facebook Photos Task is being executed, it is important to take note of two additional information events that will appear in the Execution Results tab in the designer. As indicated in Figure 11, these two informational events basically describe the parameter values that are being used during task execution. This information could be useful during troubleshooting, especially in cases where Expressions are used to set parameter values. Finally, during package execution, the package will constantly report on the progress of the execution.