Larry Price

And The Endless Cup Of Coffee

Connecting to the Trello API

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Trello has a pretty sweet API, which we use extensively in our Trello-analysis app Ollert. Initially connecting to the Trello API took us a few hours, so I’d like to make a record of how we managed to connect.

Making a connection to Trello requires two hashcodes: an application key and a Trello member token. You can generate and view your application key by visiting

The member token is something we need to get from the user. There are two ways to get a user’s member token: through fragments and through a postMessage. You can also request different levels of access (read, write, read+write), and different expiration periods (such as 1 day, 30 days, or never) for member tokens. For the remainder of this writing, I’ll be accessing a read-only member token that never expires.

We didn’t have a lot of luck with fragments, but the concept is simple enough. You have the user click a link that probably says “Connect With Trello” which is similar to:

At this point, the user is redirected to Trello and given the opportunity to Allow or Deny your application access. Once allowed, the user sees a static Trello page with their member token in plain text. Somehow you"re supposed to convey to them that they should copy this token and paste it back to you. This has clear drawbacks in usability.

Using the postMessage method of accessing a member token was significantly more fruitful. Trello provides a Javascript file named client.js that does most of the legwork for you. An example:

%script{src: "//"}

function AuthenticateTrello() {
    name: "YourApplication",
    type: "popup",
    interactive: true,
    expiration: "never",
    persist: true,
    success: function () { onAuthorizeSuccessful(); },
    scope: { write: false, read: true },
function onAuthorizeSuccessful() {
  var token = Trello.token();
  window.location.replace("/auth?token=" + token);

%a{href: "javascript:void(0)", onClick: "AuthenticateTrello()"}
  Connect With Trello

When the user clicks the link, we have Trello set to activate a “popup” that will ask them to “Allow” or “Deny” our app from accessing their data. When the user allows us access, the popup closes and we hit the “onAuthorizeSuccessful” method. In my method, I simply redirect them to the /auth route with token manually added to the params list. One of the interesting options listed above is the “persist” option, which tells Trello whether it should prompt the user for his or her token every time. By telling Trello to persist, the user will only be presented with the popup when he or she needs to reauthenticate.

You can learn more about member tokens from