Facebook Search Task


Facebook Search Task extracts a list of Facebook pages or places based on a given query text.


Configuring Facebook Search Task

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

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

Figure 1

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

Facebook Search Task - Validation Errors

Figure 2

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

Facebook Search Task Editor

The Facebook Search Task has five parameters:

  1. Text – Facebook page or place to search for. It has a maximum character value of 500 and default value is trevornoah
  2. Count – Number of Facebook pages or places to return. The maximum value is 100 and the default value is 5
  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. Search For – Specifies the type of Facebook search. The default search type is page.
  5. 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 Text parameter value like I have manually entered visualstudio shown in Figure 4.

Facebook Search 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 Search Task - Choose Variable

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

Facebook Search Task - Expressions

Executing Facebook Search Task

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

Facebook Search Task - Execute Task

Figure 7

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

Facebook Search Task - Execution

Figure 8

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

Facebook Search Task - Flat File

Figure 9

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

Facebook Search Task - Flat File Preview

Figure 10

Additional information

Additional Informational & Progress Events

Facebook Search Task - Package Progress

Figure 11

As the Facebook Search 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.