Getting started with the Mastodon APIs – notifications

The docs for the Mastodon APIs are pretty good, but there’s a surprising lack of working examples online (compared to using the Twitter APIs) which means starting out I’ve been stumped several times already trying to work out how to what seem to be simple things.

Publishing a new status (a ‘Toot’, equivalent in Twitter terms to a ‘Tweet’), is easy enough with POST /statuses . Getting a list of who has mentioned you in a status was not that obvious though.

I took a look at getting my timeline with various options, using GET /timelines, before realizing what I was probably looking for was GET /notifications which can be filtered by various types, including mentions, using

GET /notifications?types[]=mention

Note the types array parameter with [] following the name. I haven’t seen this convention used before, but this is described in the docs here.

Most of the APIs returning statuses look like this:

{
      id: 'unique-id',
      type: 'mention',
      created_at: '2022-11-20T04:46:33.902Z',
      account: {
        // details about the account that posted this status
      },
      status: {
        id: 'unique-id-for-this-status',
        created_at: '2022-11-20T04:46:22.000Z',
        in_reply_to_id: null,
        in_reply_to_account_id: null,
        content: {
          //content of the status here, as HTML
        }

Note that the type=mention here, as this is what we filtered for with the types=[] parameter.

Moving my Twitterbot @kevinhookebot to Mastodon @kevinhookebot@botsin.space

I mentioned a few days back that I’ve started to look at migrating some of my Twitter bot projects over to Mastodon, specifically to the botsin.space Mastondon server. Over the past few years I’ve deployed a number of bots that have been running continually for a number of years now without any updates. My motivation to move away from patronizing Twitter since the buyout is that it’s not a place I want to hang out anymore, but also I have some tech updates I need to take care of for these bots. A few of them I deployed 5 years ago and the AWS Lambda runtimes they were deployed with are now long past their support and have long been deprecated.

The main Lambda for @kevinhookebot was deployed originally in 2017 but updated at some point at least once in 2018:

The Lambda that watches for replies to a Tweet and replies automatically I don’t think has been updated since it was first deployed, and has been running on the Node6 runtime since 2017:

Both of these need to get redeployed with a later/supported runtime and also moved to using the Servlerless framework to help automate the deploys. It’s also odd that given that I share most of my hobby projects on Github, neither of these were committed to a repo anywhere, so first steps were to commit the original source to Github, and then starting making my updates.

First Steps

Before completely retiring the Twitter accounts, I’m going to update most of these to either cross-post to Twitter and Mastodon, or fork a Mastodon version and keep both running for a while, then eventually I’ll close the accounts on Twitter later.

For first steps, updating @kevinhookebot has to add integration with Mastondon’s apis to post a status update. I’ve got some learning to do with the apis and the authentication approach, but so far using the mastondon-api npm module, posting a status update is as simple as:

let Mastodon = require('mastodon-api');
let config = require('./config/config-mastodon.json');

exports.postMastodon = (item) => {

    const M = new Mastodon({
        access_token: config['access-token'],
        api_url: 'https://botsin.space/api/v1/',
    });

    M.post('statuses', {
        "status" : item.tweettext
    })
        .then((resp) => console.log(resp.data));

}

I still have to things to work out, like how to query replies to a Toot that I’ll need to support some of my other interactive bots, but so far so good.

Planning to migrate my AWS Lambda Twitter bots to Mastodon

Like everyone else right now, I’m mulling options to migrate away from Twitter, likely to Mastodon (follow me at @kevinhooke@mastodon.social !). Moving my personal usage is relatively simple, other than rebuilding a list of people and tags that I like to follow. I also have a number of Twitter bots running on AWS Lambdas that I’ve built over the years that I should move at some point.

The easy part is that the code that’s running as an AWS Lambda doesn’t need to physically move anywhere, that can continue to run where it is. The part that needs to change is the APIs it’s using to integrate with Twitter and update them to use APIs to post to Mastodon instead.

I’m still in early stage of looking at options so far. I’ve discovered there’s a Mastodon instance, BotsInSpace, that’s specifically for running bots, so that addresses that first step, where they need to run against. I’ve also been reading through a few articles on developing bots for Mastodon such as this one. So far looks like it shouldn’t be too much of a big deal to move them across.

Building bots on Twitter with AWS Lambdas (and other stuff)

I’ve built a few different bots on Twitter and written several articles describing how I built them. Some of these were a few months back – once they’re up and running it’s easy to forget they’re up and running (thanks to the free tier on AWS Lambda which means you can run scheduled Tweets well within the free tier limits). This is a summary of the bots I’ve developed so far.

Looking at where I got started, my first bot was to build an integration between Amateur Radio 2m Packet, retweeting packets received locally to Twitter. This was my first experience working with the Twitter REST apis and the OAUTH authentication, so I lot of what I learned here I reapplied to the following bots too:

For my next project, I was inspired by articles by researcher Janelle Shane who has been training ML models to produce some hilarious results, such as weird recipes, college course names and many others. I was curious what content a ML model would generate if I extracted all of my past 4000+ Tweets from Twitter and trained a model with the content. I had many questions, such as would the content be similar in style, and is 4000 Tweets enough text to train a model? You can follow my progress in these posts:

This then led to repeating the experiment with over 10 years of my blog articles and posts collected here, which you can follow in these posts:

Next, what would it take to train my model in the cloud using AWS Sagemaker, and run using AWS Lambdas?

You can follow this bot on Twitter here: @kevinhookebot

I had fun developing @kevinhookebot – it evolved over time to support a few features, not just to retweet content from the trained ML model. Additional features added:

  • an additional Lambda that consumes the Twitter API ‘mentions’ timeline and replies with one of a number of canned responses (not generated, they’re just hard coded phrases). If you reply to any of it’s tweets or Tweet @ the bot it will reply to you every 5 minutes when it sees a new tweet in the mentions timeline
  • another Lambda that responds to @ mentions to the bot as if it is a text-base adventure game. Tweet ‘@kevinhookebot go north’ (or east/west/south) and the bot will respond with some generated text in the style of an adventure game. There’s no actual game to play and it doesn’t track your state, but each response is generated using @GalaxyKate ‘s Tracery library to generate the text using a simple grammar that defines the structure of each reply.

After having fun with the adventure text reply generator, I also used the Tracey library for another AWS Lambda bot that generates product/project names and tweets every 6 hours. I think it’s rather amusing, you can check it out here: @ProductNameBot

@ProductNameBot

My most recent creation I upped the ante slightly and wondered what it would take to develop a Twitter bot that playeda card game. This introduced some interesting problems that I hadn’t thought about yet, like how to track the game state for each player. I captured the development in these posts here:

I have some other ideas for something I might put together soon. Stay posted for more details 🙂