Many bots

December 21st 2008

Computer bot

All these APIs for all these excellent vertical web services. How about connecting all the bits of cloud you need and having all that information as accessible as an IM buddy?

Enter Computer bot.

It’s a framework that Ruby developers can easily extend and adapt to create IM bots that harness the APIs of the web services they rely on, for work and play.

You don’t have to open web sites and click your way through the information, you can type your commands and have it delivered to you.

I named it “Computer” after Star Treck: the way they consult the computer, and how it seems to be connected to everything.

It’s available on github and the actual version has some cool features, with the help of Ruben Fonseca.

The big picture for future development is clearly about moving beyond the bot realm and creating reliable deep-integration tools: a data hub for the cloud that you access via an API: locally, to generate rich views and apps on the server side and remotely, via XMPP, REST, etc., to render rich views and apps on the client side.

If you already fool around with Yahoo Pipes and Tarpipe, know about Microsoft’s Live Mesh and “the cloud”, I hope your eyes are sparkling.

Digg and Twitter modules are built-in at this moment.

Have fun with it, send your patches and your feedback.

Twitter edition

Are you looking for an IM Twitter client? Computer bot / Twitter edition is a full-featured Twitter bot that you might love:

  • Live twitter feed
  • Track and untrack keywords
  • Grab the latest X messages from your friends
  • Grab the latest X messages from any user
  • Search the latest X containing a given word
  • The classics: follow, unfollow, whois, post updates
  • More :)

You can download it from github. It’s pretty straight forward to setup, Ruby beginners can give it a try. It’s based on an early version of the Computer bot framework.

Prologuer bot

Last but not least, I have just pushed the latest Prologuer bot to github.

Prologuer bot is a bot for Wordpress, meant to be used in a “Wordpress-based twitter-like environement”. It was first developed right after the release of Prologue, a theme made by the Automattic team to power their own Wordpress-based twitter earlier this year.

During the The Star Tracker development sprint in November I’d added a live feed feature to the bot, extracted from Computer bot / Twitter edition. And since these guys started using the 0.2 version along a “Wordpress-based internal Twitter” setup for their company, it’s a good opportunity to push the new version.

With Prologuer bot, you can grab the latest posts from a given person or tagged with a given keyword, post to Wordpress, subscribe to the live feed and… little more at this point.

Prologuer bot wants to be a great productivity tool: replace some email with Twitter-like interaction, and make it even more convenient by making it available via IM. It’s really about real-life usage. If you use it with your team, do send your feedback.

Personal information systems

Many more bots I have written this year, like the “bigbrother bot” (link in portuguese) at Codebits that let you find people through the RFID tag infrastructure and the API. Data at your fingertips is a powerful idea, one that I’ll certainly pursue into 2009.

The more information I round up, the more this subject makes me think of information systems, and how they’re going personal. Social, and personal.

Nowadays services are designed for social scale and interaction not unlike like enterprise software is designed for enterprise scale and interaction; I say ‘not unlike’ because they’re merging. We almost expect SLA’s from social services and we expect corporate intranets to turn into facebooks, and yesterday’s company knowledge bases to become wikipedias. Application design is challeging organizational architecture (versus vice-versa).

Beyond the “social enterprise”, there is “user-centricity”. It’s not a new idea. Nor are social networks, nor were intranets; it’s a new timeframe, where old pieces form a new puzzle. User centricity rides on top of the social- and process- oriented paradigms in organizational software.

How powerful does user-centric software, designed to absorb social and organizational culture in the through their APIs, sound to you?