Over the past few years bots for social media have become increasingly popular. This also means there's a demand for bot creation resources. This article will help you get started with the creation of your first bot.

This is the first part of a multi-part series that will cover bot creation.

Before you dive into creating a bot you need some essential programming knowledge.

This article will cover some of the basics.

Some great topics to learn about are:

  • Basic Programming (Variables, Loops, Logic, Flow etc.)
  • HTTP Requests
  • Authentication (OAuth)
  • Basic Image Manipulation
  • JSON

Where To Begin?


If you have little to no programming knowledge then your first task will be picking a programming language.

There's a lot of programming languages and each of them come with their own pros and cons.

Some great languages for social media bot creation are:

  • Javascript (node)
  • C# - The majority of our bots are primarily written in C# (We'll slowly be porting them to D.)
  • D - We've released a library for social media bots written in D.
  • Python

The most popular languages for bots in the social media bot community are Javascript and Python but really any language that is able to perform web requests and do basic image manipulation will work just fine.

Understanding Bots


The core principal of creating a bot is understand how a bot work.

Bots are not much different from regular programs created to perform specific tasks.

The main difference is that a bot is made to automate and perform specific tasks, usually without input from humans (or at least very little.)

Usually the only human interaction a bot has is the given data it performs tasks around.

Bot Ideas


Creating a bot that isn't stale is very important because you want a bot that people will find interesting enough to follow.

There's no point in having a bot if nobody is going to follow it and engage with the posts it make.

If you're a member of The Bot Appreciation Society then you can usually pick-up bot ideas from other people if you can't come up with your own, as ideas are often given there.

If you're unsure if your bot idea will gain traction then you can always ask in the group as well. People will usually tell you if the bot idea is good or not and from that you can figure out whether you should spend time creating the bot or not.

Once you have your bot idea nailed then you need to figure out how it should function.

The rules for the The Bot Appreciation Society are kind of seen like global rules for the bot community as a whole so when you create a bot please make sure it follows the rules there.

The reason why that's important is because bots are kind of a gray area and we (the community as a whole) constantly battle each platform with their restrictions.

So the rules were made to reflect certain restrictions of the platforms and breaking those rules could possiblt jeopardize it for everyone else.

Planning


It's a good idea to create a plan for your bot, the more complex your bot is going to be the more planning you'll need to do.

Some simple bots do not need much planning and you'll be fine just starting to program it.

A good idea when planning the creation of your bot is simply writing down everything you want it to do.

  • Post the image to Facebook
  • Post a comment
  • Write text on the image
  • Draw a blue background

Then afterwards sort the list based on when the bot should be doing the task.

  • Draw a blue background
  • Write text on the image
  • Post the image to Facebook
  • Post a comment

This might seem like some tedious work but when you start creating a complex bot with a lot of functionality then having its tasks structured like this will greatly help creating the bot.

Conclusion


Now that you've been introduced to the creation of bots then in the next article we'll be looking at Part II - The Facebook API and how to interact with it.

Later on we'll be looking at the following things:

  • Part III - The Twitter API
  • Part IV - Programming A Text-based Bot
  • Part V - Programming An Image-based Bot
  • Part VI - Programming An Interactive Bot

The programming of a bot will be covered using examples from multiple languages.

Thank you for reading the first article we've written.

See you next time!





Tagged in: #social-media, #bots, #facebook, #twitter, #tutorial, #creation, #part-1

Founder of The Bot Blog and a passionate programmer interested in automation, artificial intelligence, network- and game programming, web development, meme enthusiast and C#/Java/D/C programmer.

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