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telegram-scribe-bot

A chat-bot for Telegram that can add comments to Trello cards, your TickTick todo-list and your Diigo bookmarks, from any Telegram client.

The first version of this bot was developed by following the steps provided in Serverless Telegram Bot with Firebase - Francisco Guti矇rrez - Medium.

Supported commands

  • /todo <task> [#tag [#...]] will add a ToDo/task to TickTick's inbox, for sorting
  • /today <task> [#tag [#...]] will add a ToDo/task to TickTick, due today
  • /tags will list the tags associated to each Trello card
  • /next will list the next task for each Trello card
  • /next <task> [#tag] will add a task to the top of the check-list of the Trello card associated with #tag
  • /note <text> [#card [#...]] will add a comment to the specified Trello card(s), for journaling
  • /shelf <spotify_album_url> will propose the addition of an album to the adrienjoly/album-shelf GitHub repository (requires options: spotify.clientid, spotify.secret and github.token with "public repo" permissions)

Notes:

  • You can find an up-to-date list of commands in the commandHandlers constant defined in src/messageHandler.ts;
  • You can find commands that I plan to add later in the ToDo / Next steps section of this page.

Clone and Install

To get started, you just need git, NodeJS and to follow these instructions:

$ git clone https://github.com/adrienjoly/telegram-scribe-bot.git
$ cd telegram-scribe-bot
$ cd functions
$ npm install
$ npm test # run automated test suites

Local setup and testing

Before making your chat-bot accessible through Telegram, you can test it locally:

$ npm run test:bot

This command will start a CLI that will allow you to interact with the bot without having to put it online.

Let's see how to set it up.

1. Connect to a Trello board

Trello credentials must be provided in a .config.json file, at the root directory of the project.

  1. Get started by copying the provided template: $ cp .config.example.json .config.json
  2. Copy your Trello API Key (from trello.com/app-key) and paste it as the value of the trello.apikey variable, in your .config.json file
  3. Manually generate a Token (a link is provided on trello.com/app-key, below the Trello API Key) and paste it as the value of the trello.usertoken variable, still in your .config.json file
  4. Run $ tools/trello-boards.ts to make sure that these credentials give access to Trello's API and display the list of the Trello boards you have access to
  5. Copy the 24-characters-long identifier of the Trello board that you want your bot to edit, and paste it as the value of the trello.boardid variable of your .config.json file

If you want to also connect to your TickTick account, fill the ticktick.email and ticktick.password variables accordingly.

2. Bind tags to Trello cards

In order to add comments and tasks to your Trello cards, you must associate one or more hashtags to these cards.

How to achieve this?

  1. Open one of your Trello cards
  2. In the description of that card, add the following text: telegram-scribe-bot:addCommentsFromTaggedNotes(#mytag1,mytag2,...), and save your changes
  3. After doing so, you'll be able to add a comment to that card, by sending the following message through your Telegram app: /note hello world! #mytag1

For instance, if you have a card in which you want to store your #diary notes as comments, add the following line to the description of that card:

telegram-scribe-bot:addCommentsFromTaggedNotes(#diary)

After doing that, the following chat message will add a comment to that card:

/note I had a great day today! #diary

Production Setup

Follow these steps to deploy your bot to Firebase and make it accessible through Telegram.

1. Create a Firebase project

  • Go to your firebase console
  • Add a new project
  • In the .firebaserc file, replace telegram-scribe-bot by the id of that project
  • $ make setup-firebase (to login to your Firebase account)

2. Create a Telegram bot

  • In your Telegram app, start a conversation with @BotFather
  • Write the command /newBot and follow the provided steps
  • Initialize the .env file, based on the provided template: $ cp .env.example .env
  • In the .env file, replace the default BOT_TOKEN value by the Secret Token provided by that bot
  • Also, take note of the name of your bot (ends with bot), we'll need it later

3. Deploy and bind the bot to Telegram

  • $ make deploy-firebase (will upload the source code to your Firebase project)
  • In the .env file, replace the default ROUTER_URL value by the one printed when deploying (previous step), it must end with /router/
  • $ make test-firebase (to check that the function deployed on Firebase responds)
  • $ make bind-firebase-webhook (to bind that function to your Telegram bot)
  • $ make test-firebase-webhook (to check that the function's router URL was properly bound to your Telegram bot)

After making any change to your bot, don't forget to deploy again it using $ make deploy-firebase.

4. Test your bot

  • In your Telegram app, start a conversation with your bot (e.g. mine is @aj_scribe_bot)
  • Send "hello"
  • The bot should reply with your name

You can troubleshoot your bot using your firebase console.

Options

Set telegram.onlyfromuserid in your .config.json file and call $ make deploy-firebase again if you want the bot to only respond to that Telegram user identifier.

How to add a command

The steps are listed in the order I usually follow:

  1. In the commandHandlers array of src/messageHandler.ts, add an entry for your command. At first, make it return a simple string, like we did for the /version command. Deploy it and test it in production, just to make sure that you won't be blocked later at that critical step.

  2. Write an automated test in src/use-cases/, to define the expected reponse for a sample command. (see example)

  3. Write a minimal CommandHandler, just to make the test pass, without calling any 3rd-party API yet. (see example)

  4. Write a small tool to examine the response from the 3rd-party API. (see example)

  5. Update the implementation of your CommandHandler, so it relies on the actual API response. Make sure that the test passes, when you provide your API credentials. (see example)

  6. Make the automated test mock the API request(s) so that it doesn't require API credentials to run. (see example)

    In that step, you can leverage the no match for [...] logs displayed when running your test from step 5, in order to know which URL(s) to mock.

  7. Test your command locally, using $ npm run test:bot.

  8. Deploy and test your command in production, as explained above.

ToDo / Next steps

  • Make setup easier and faster, e.g. by automatizing some of the steps
  • ideas of "command" use cases to implement:
    • /next [#tag] will list the next task for each Trello card associated with #tag
    • /search <text> [#tag [#...]] will search occurrences of text in comments of Trello cards, optionally filtered by #tags
    • /openwhyd <track> [#tag] [desc] will add a music track (e.g. YouTube URL) to Openwhyd.org, in a playlist corresponding to the tag, and may add a description if provided
    • /issue <repo> will create a github issue on the provided repo
    • /bk <url> [desc] [#tag]> will create a Diigo bookmark to that URL
    • /met "<person name>" [@place] [#tag] [desc] will create or update a Google Contact
    • /convert units of measure into others (e.g. timezones, sizes, currencies, data formats...)
  • ideas of "request" use cases to implement:
    • when waking up: invite to keep a note of the dream you were having
    • before going to sleep: invite to keep a note of how was your day (i.e. mood) and of what you did that day (i.e. journal), possibly with a photo to illustrate it
  • read issues for more.

FAQ

Is this yet another chatbot or virtual assistant supposedly supported by AI?

No. It's actually pretty dumb. Think of it more like a terminal, or like MacOS' Spotlight feature: it uses Telegram as a way to save text to other services, through their API. That's it.

Why rely on Telegram?

Sending data from a mobile terminal to a server is far from trivial. For instance, your internet connection may be unstable (or unexistent) at the time when you want to save something. In that case, you'd expect your message to be automatically re-sent as soon as your internet connectivity is back. Telegram provides that out of the box!