I'm looking to run backtests (and actually do research in Jupyter) using futures contracts. I'm starting from the Basic Futures template (here)

I can't seem to find the details of the futures/futures chain data structure. Clearly there is data in the chain (the code uses x.expiry). I am unable to find what else is there; I've tried via here, but I believe due to my shortcomings, am unable to translate into Python code. 

With that said, I'm looking to work on using the current active future for a given contract. Right now, for instance, the active gold future is GC Dec17 (GCZ7). I'd like to be able determine the active futures via comparing volumes for the first N contracts or directly requesting GCZ7. 

Please help by 1) providing a way showing how to get the ticker and other information for a given futurs contract, 2) show some example code to grab a specific future, eg GCZ7, and 3) how to get the active contract based on prior day and current day volumes (and possibly OI).