Given a Vimeo ID, I can retrieve a thumbnail from the video via Vimeo Simple API. Rather than call the API every time my page loads I want to set the image as the post thumbnail using the save_post hook (similar to this question).

My problem is that I am not familiar with URL calls in php. I would like to know:

  1. the benefits/drawbacks of using a method like curl compared to WP_Http. Is one "better" than the other?

  2. the order in which I should call functions to successfully set the post thumbnail.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Has anyone figured this out? I'm trying to do this as well.
    – user4086
    Mar 20, 2011 at 17:42

2 Answers 2


My favorite way of handling this problem has been to use a little documented function I discovered on another stack post: media_sideload_image

It works by fetching an image url to the WordPress upload dir and then associating the image to a post's attachments.

You can try it like so:

// required libraries for media_sideload_image
require_once(ABSPATH . 'wp-admin/includes/file.php');
require_once(ABSPATH . 'wp-admin/includes/media.php');
require_once(ABSPATH . 'wp-admin/includes/image.php');

// $post_id == the post you want the image to be attached to
// $video_thumb_url == the vimeo video's thumb url
// $description == optional description

// load the image
$result = media_sideload_image($video_thumb_url, $post_id, $description);

// then find the last image added to the post attachments
$attachments = get_posts(array('numberposts' => '1', 'post_parent' => $post_id, 'post_type' => 'attachment', 'post_mime_type' => 'image', 'order' => 'ASC'));

if(sizeof($attachments) > 0){
    // set image as the post thumbnail
    set_post_thumbnail($post_id, $attachments[0]->ID);

Hi @David John Smith:

1.) If you are in WordPress, (almost) always use WP_Http; it's one of the many things I love about working with WordPress. Why call it and not CURL? Well, because it has a nicer syntax and it calls CURL if CURL is available. If not, it chooses from one of 3 other options. So it really is a brilliant piece of kit.

2.) To answer the 2nd question I'll need to know how you want to name the files you are downloading?

  • Thanks Mike. As for the post thumbnails, I don't really care how they're named, I would just like to be able to access them as related to a post, either by post_thumbnail() or get_post_meta(). I guess it would make sense to name it with the post ID. Oct 20, 2010 at 2:45
  • any update on this? Nov 5, 2010 at 15:20
  • @NetConstructor - It's really hard to keep track of questions that are in a "pending" state, so no. I just created a "pending" folder on my bookmarks bar, I'll see if I can't be more consistent with that. But, I don't have time right now for this one so will have to come back to it. Nov 5, 2010 at 23:08
  • @Mike -- thanks Mike, just thought you might have had a solution here cause among other things you seem to be the master of this stuff :-) Nov 5, 2010 at 23:47
  • @NetConstructor.com - LOL! Thanks, I'm just master of the debugger, that is all. :) Nov 5, 2010 at 23:51

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