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Visualization of Youtube watch history from Google Takeout

Project description

The goal of the app

is to gather some data about your YouTube watch history (available via Google Takeout) and do some light visualization of it. There's a few built-in interactive graphs and tables, delivered via a web page, and then there's the data itself that can be used for more. An SQLite browser, such as DB Browser for SQLite, could be used for viewing and filtering it like a spreadsheet, as well as making simple graphs.

Outside of requests to YouTube Data API, the whole thing is run locally.

This is not a tool for exhaustive data gathering/archiving and records keeping. Even if it tried to be, inaccuracies in Takeout would not allow for that.

What you'll need

In addition to Python 3.6+ and installing the package (preferably in a virtual environment):

pip install youtubewatched

you'll need two things:

  • Your Google Takeout YouTube data, in English. If yours isn't, switching your language to English should make the Takeout archives created afterwards be in English.
  • have YouTube Data API enabled and an API key for the app to make requests for information on each video. The first part from Before you start section from Google's guide on the matter explains how to do that (should only be a few minutes):
  1. You need a Google Account to access the Google API Console, request an API key, and register your application.
  2. Create a project in the Google Developers Console and obtain authorization credentials so your application can submit API requests.
  3. After creating your project, make sure the YouTube Data API is one of the services that your application is registered to use:

a. Go to the API Console and select the project that you just registered.
b. Visit the Enabled APIs page. In the list of APIs, make sure the status is ON for the YouTube Data API v3.

*the above block of text is a modification based on work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.*

Running the app

From your terminal, enter:

youtubewatched

That'll start up the app on http://127.0.0.1:5000 (may take a few seconds).
Enter youtubewatched --help for some limited server startup options.

The rest (there isn't much) is explained on the web page itself.

Browser compatibility

Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Brave and hopefully Safari should all work fine as long as not terribly outdated; Edge and IE will not.

Possible issues

Opening multiple instances of the front page will lead to wacky tracking of records' insertion or updating, though the process itself won't be affected. Close all, but one and maybe refresh that one.

If videos' graphs for 1k+ records show up blank, WebGL in your browser is probably disabled or otherwise prevented from working.
In Brave specifically, that could be fixed by clicking on the Shields icon in the address bar and allowing device recognition.

Notes on how the app works

Data retrieval and insertion process

Takeout's watch-history.html file(s) gets parsed for the available info. Some records will only contain a timestamp of when the video was opened, presumably when the video itself is no longer available. Most will also contain the video ID, title and the channel title.

All the video IDs are then queried against YouTube Data API for additional information such as likes, tags, number of comments, etc. Combined with the timestamps from Takeout, the records are then inserted into a database, located in the project directory under the default name of yt.sqlite. Those without any identifying info are collectively inserted as a single 'unknown'.

Each successful query to the API uses 11 points, with the standard daily quota varying wildly, depending on some factors. The Quotas tab on Google's Console page will show how many have been used up.

Should the process get interrupted for any reason, it's safe to restart it using the same Takeout files; no duplicates will be created and no duplicate queries will be made (except one for updating the 'categories' table every time).

Takeout quirks and data accuracy

Takeout works strangely. Only the last few years of watch history seem to ever get returned.
In addition to that, varying numbers of entries get returned each time an archive is created, with more recent versions sometimes including older entries than the previous versions, as well as more entries throughout the whole watch history.

YouTube's History page keeps a more complete record, though, inversely, it also misses some entries that are present in Takeout. Most of those are for videos that are no longer available.

Timestamps

In short, the timestamps can be very inaccurate and the app doesn't fix that. They shouldn't be relied on for anything precise, but would work fine for a rough overview of activity over a given period of time, etc.

There is no timezone information coming from Takeout beyond abbreviations like EDT/PST/CET, some of which may refer to multiple different timezones. The timestamps seem to be returned in local time of what's used to browse YouTube (or perhaps use Google products in general), including those for videos that were watched in a different timezone. Temporarily changing the timezone on the computer used to request the Takeout archive creation, or in Google Calendar, or the region in Google Search Settings, doesn't trigger a change in the timestamps.

One of the worse things happens with DST zones. In the case of zones observing Daylight Saving Time (DST), all of the timestamps seem to be set to either the DST timezone or the non-DST one, depending on the date the archive was created. That is, if someone who lives on the East coast of US were to create an archive in May, all the timestamps, including ones that should be in EST (November - March) would be set to EDT, and vice versa if they were to create it in February.

Avoiding duplicate timestamps because of potential different timezones for different Takeout archives

Since different Takeout archives may have different timezones, depending on when/where they were downloaded, there may be duplicate timestamps in different timezones. To weed out them out, any timestamps for the same video ID that have been watched at the same year, month, minute and second as well as less than 26 hours apart are treated as one. This may also block a very limited amount (likely less than a dozen for most) of legitimate timestamps from being entered. Most if not all of them would be the ones attached to the 'unknown' record.

Built with significant use of the following packages

  • Flask - the app itself
  • Dash / Plotly - visualizing data and making interactive graphs, constructing the visualization web page
  • Pandas & NumPy - data wrangling
  • Beautiful Soup - parsing Google Takeout

Project details


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Files for youtubewatched, version 0.1.4
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