Developing Yammer apps for iOS/OS X with ADAL, REST API and Swift 2.0

You’re interested to develop applications on top of Yammer (Microsoft’s Enterprise Social Network) but you’re currently working on iOS/OS X devices ? No problem ūüėČ

Yammer offer to developers a REST API to allow them build applications on top of the product. Microsoft has also started to move the authentication mechanism to Office 365, to let people to use the same credentials as for other services in their company (Outlook, SharePoint, Skype for Business…).

In this article, we’ll discover what are the main steps to create our first application which will use the Yammer REST API and Office 365 authentication, in conjunction with Swift 2.0, the new programming language of Apple platforms, updated during the WWDC 2015.

Declare your application in Azure Active Directory

The first step to accomplish to be able to develop an application which will call the Yammer REST API with the Office 365 authentication (based on Azure AD), is to declare your application in Azure.

To do this, you need to be a global administrator of your tenant, and you can achieve this by using the Azure Management Portal :

On the Azure Management Portal, go to Active Directory section, select the appropriate directory, select applications and create a new native application.

After you fill the requested information (a name and a redirect URL), you have to declare for each service (SharePoint, Exchange, Active Directory…) what permissions are needed by your application as you can see below.

Few weeks ago, Microsoft has released a new permission which allows you to use the Yammer REST API (it’s a preview for now). So just add it to your application (as you can see below) and save your modifications.

Office 365 Yammer - Azure AD Permissions

Authenticate with ADAL

The second step to develop your application is to acquire an authentication token from Azure AD and to pass it to the Yammer REST API when you want to retrieve data.

The simplest way to acquire an authentication token from Azure AD is to use the Azure Active Directory Library (aka. ADAL) which can be downloaded for free on GitHub :

After downloading the library and integrating it in your application (cf. documentation on GitHub on how to achieve this goal), you can acquire a token with just few lines of code.

var authError: ADAuthenticationError?
var authContext = ADAuthenticationContext(authority: "", error: &authError)
var bearerToken: String!

authContext.acquireTokenWithResource("", clientId: "...", redirectUri: "...", completionBlock: { (result: ADAuthenticationResult!) in
    guard (authError == nil) && (result.accessToken != nil) else {
        // Authentication Error

    bearerToken = result.accessToken

The Swift code above is pretty simple to understand :

  • We declare an authentication context
  • We call the acquireTokenWithResource method with required parameters (clientId and redirectUri are the same you filled in step #1)
  • If the token was successfully acquired, we store it in a variable to use it later

Use the Yammer REST API

Now that we have a valid authentication token, we are now able to use the Yammer REST API. If you need some information about all the capabilities available in that API, you can refer to the official documentation :

In Swift, we are able to use all the frameworks (Foundation, AppKit, UIKit…) available on iOS/OS X and which allow us to perform advanced operations in a simple manner.

To perform HTTP communications, we can use the NSURLSession class. With just few lines of code, we are able to send a request to a server (synchronously or asynchronously) and to retrieve the response.

let URLSession = NSURLSession(configuration: NSURLSessionConfiguration.defaultSessionConfiguration())
let request = NSMutableURLRequest(URL: NSURL(string: "")!)
request.setValue("application/json", forHTTPHeaderField: "Accept")
request.setValue(bearerToken, forHTTPHeaderField: "Auhtorization")
let task = URLSession.dataTaskWithRequest(request) { (data: NSData?, response: NSURLResponse?, error: NSError?) in
    guard (data != nil) else {
        // No data returned

The most important part in the code above, to authenticate the request, concerns the addition of an Authorization header to the request. The header is a concatenation of the token retrieved in step 2 with the Bearer keyword such as “Authorization: Bearer our_authentication_token“.

If the request is successfully executed (it returns data), then we call the processResult method by passing the retrieved data as parameter.

Deserialize JSON response and catch errors

The last step to perform in our application is to parse the retrieved data. Because we have passed an Accept header to the previous request to indicate that we want to retrieve the data as JSON, we just have to deserialize and to use them.

Once again thanks to Foundation which expose a class (NSJSONSerialization) to perform this operation.

If you used Swift 1.x during the last year, focus your attention on the code below. A brand new way to deserialize and catch potential errors has been introduced with Swift 2.0 (do … catch).

func processResult(data: NSData?) {    
    do {
        let JSONObject = try NSJSONSerialization.JSONObjectWithData(data!, options: [])
        print(JSONObject, appendNewline: true)
    } catch let error as NSError {
        print(error, appendNewline: true)

In the code above, we just print the deserialize object so it should display something like that :

    "activated_at" = "2015/01/01 01:01:00 +0000";
    admin = true;
    "birth_date" = "";
    "can_broadcast" = true;
    "can_browse_external_networks" = 1;
    "can_create_new_network" = 1;
    contact = { ... };
    department = Direction;
    email = "...";
    expertise = "Office 365 REST API, SharePoint, iOS, Objective-C, Swift";
    "external_urls" = ();
    "first_name" = "Stéphane";
    "follow_general_messages" = 0;
    "full_name" = "Stéphane Cordonnier";
    guid = "<null>";
    id = 123456789;
    interests = "<null>";
    "job_title" = "Technology Addict";
    "kids_names" = "<null>";
    "last_name" = Cordonnier;
    location = Paris;

If you want to use and parse the deserialized object, it’s a key/value dictionary so it’s pretty simple to use it.


2 thoughts on “Developing Yammer apps for iOS/OS X with ADAL, REST API and Swift 2.0

  1. Pingback: Office 365 Developer Podcast: Episode 051 on Office UI Fabric | Triptoirvine69 Blog

  2. Pingback: Office 365‚ÄĒmonthly Dev Digest for July | Triptoirvine69 Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s