here's the bot edit page so far, it looks pretty gross i know
are there any options that seem missing? there are some other options not pictured here, such as turning off replies, banning given words, or changing the profile picture
i don't want to overwhelm the user with options but i don't want it to be too limiting either
this page allows you to manage your bots and such. the buttons on the bot are a little confusing because they're just icons. they mean, from left to right:
. toggle bot enabled/disabled
. bot settings
. accounts learned from
. banned words
. chat with your bot
before i shut down my free bot hosting service, i was hosting 108 bots. that means my server had 108 open connections listening for replies at all times. i don't know how many it can handle, but the answer's at least 108
i have no idea how many people are going to use this, though, so it might not go so well. each reply listener needs to be its own process, too... i might have to either get a separate server just for this or upgrade my current server to the prohibitively expensive next tier
in other words, when this goes live, i'm kinda hoping for people clicking on those donation links so i can upgrade the server!
this is by the people (henlo) for the people (you!) so if there's anything at all you'd like to see, let me know!
what do you want in an ebooks bot? what annoys or disappoints you about the current ones? if you could program, what custom functionality what you give your own one? what do you like or hate about webapps (like mastodon and gmail) that could apply here? what is your favourite breed of rabbit?
allowing users to get their bot to post once every five minutes is probably a bad idea, right
this will do
i'm excited to work on the backend but the frontend still isn't done, there's just so much to do!!
you wouldn't delete lynnebot, would you?!
the more hardcore lynnesbian fans may note that fedibooks looks rather similar to curious greg (no not , i mean https://cg.lynnesbian.space)
i did take inspiration from that design, which in turn took inspiration from mastodon's web UI. however, i made a few changes, most noticeably to the buttons, to give it its own unique identity. i also decided to go a little bit brutalist (and i really do mean a little bit) by leaving everything with sharp, square edges, flat colours, monotone icons, and so on.
who says programmers can't design frontends?
you may also notice that fedibooks used to be a different project. i've abandoned the old fedibooks and moved to this one instead. in retrospect, the old fedibooks concept was way too ambitious. it was around the time i was considering how to create a simple UI for displaying complex decision trees that i realised i was in too deep.
why create fedibooks? (long)
I've been working on ebooks bots for a long time. My first project, mstdn-ebooks, dates back to October 2018. It's a much less ambitious project than FediBooks, but maintaining and developing it has still been a formidable undertaking. It's changed a lot since the initial version, and has worked very well for a long time.
Using mstdn-ebooks is nowhere near as easy as using FediBooks. There's a long guide you'll need to follow, and you'll have to install some programs like Python and possibly Git to get working. It runs on your own computer, meaning that if you put it into sleep mode, it stops working. Updating it to the latest version is also your responsibility, and the error messages it gives aren't exactly user friendly.
To help with this issue, I decided to create a Patreon where I offered a $2.50 per month tier to host up to three bots for you. I would take care of configuration, maintenance, updating, et cetera. This worked pretty well up until recently.
A new change in Mastodon and Pleroma adds something called authenticated fetches. Reffered to as "authorised mode" by Mastodon, this new feature prevents unauthorised instances and programs from accessing the API. In other words, if instance A blocks instance B, then instance B won't be able to see instance A's public posts anymore. However, this also means mstdn-ebooks can't see your posts. This can be fixed, however, by requesting permission from instance B. So what's the problem?
I would need to ask every single person I run a bot for to click a link I send to them, and then send me back the authentication code they received. This is messy and annoying, and greatly tedious. Furthermore, mstdn-ebooks' code base is starting to show its age (I used to be even worse at programming, believe it or not), and I thought this gave me a good motivation to create a new project.
When FediBooks needs permission from instance B, all you need to do is click "authorise". No copy and pasting codes and sending them in a Patreon DM. This is much cleaner and easier for the end user, which is what this is all about!
FediBooks is one of the biggest projects I've ever taken on, and it's been wonderful working on it. I hope you enjoy it!
when you ask me a question like "why pour all this time and energy into creating a free service" the answer always boils down to "i want to make people happy"
that's all there is to it really. my current dream job (not that i'm really capable of working) is a computer science lecturer, because i've seen how dry and boring compsci lectures are and i think i can do better. i want people to learn and have a good time doing it!
if i'm making other people happy, i'm almost always happy! i just need to remember to not let that get in the way of my own health.
i hope i don't have to use sendmail for this
okay so i think this is what the database is gonna look like
yes this is an ERD what about it
i just realised that i actually used a skill i learned at university today
university taught me something i used in a real life scenario
if you had have told past me that i would get so dedicated to a passion project that i made an ERD for it, i would say "really? fuck"
hmm i could either work on more frontend stuff or try to convert this ERD into SQL
i might work on the SQL stuff since it's been a while
known issue: fedibooks will stop working after 4,294,967,295 people connect their accounts
looking over this SQL is writing is making me feel very Powerful
i could change fedibooks to only allow one user per instance and all it would take is a single word
i could cause privacy issues and wasted disk space by just deleting one rule
i could change a single column's data type and break pleroma compatibility
SQL is actually good imo
i actually kinda like working with databases, i just don't like database theory
i fixed up some of the issues with the entity relationship diagram and it's looking pretty solid now
fedibooks can store (2^64)-1 posts
that is a lot of posts!!
i'd probably run out of disk space before getting anywhere near running out of post IDs
a difficult thing to determine is how high should i set the post length limit
my instance has it set to 65535 to ensure i never run into issues, masto defaults to 500, pleroma defaults to 5000
i guess this is supposed to be a microblogging platform so it doesn't make too much sense to allow them to be overly large, and that does technically expose me to some jerk filling my DB with posts that are gigabytes long
65535 it is
the frontend stuff is getting along well
as for the backend stuff, well, there's more SQL than python, and i haven't even hit 100 lines yet, so
okay, the frontend stuff is getting close to being ready. when fedibooks first goes live, some features won't be ready yet. the basic stuff will all work just fine, though!
the backend stuff is gonna be a lot harder than the frontend, but i'll hopefully have it done before too long!
there are a few features that will require it, but so far it's 100% JS free
which is nice because i'm bad at JS
what do you typically call the "@firstname.lastname@example.org" thing? i call it a handle
the SQL is (probably) finished and it is beautiful
one of the best parts of webdev is having to implement input validation on both the client and the server
hmm i wonder how i implemented input sanitisation in my last project
...oh! i didn't!
well time to shut cg.lynnesbian.space down forever
i can be a real dingus sometimes
wait a minute never mind i overreacted it DOES sanitise inputs
okay curious greg is back up so you can use it again now
even though it's really buggy and shit
things are coming along well
how strange that some instances don't seem to work properly
fedibooks authentication is working
the bot creation process is done now. it doesn't handle errors gracefully yet, but apart from that, it's ready!
this means you can now create a bot with fedibooks 0u0
now for the learning from posts part
i passed 100 commits
things are coming along very well! you can create a bot and add accounts for it to learn from. there's a few basic things left, and then it's on to the actual ebooks stuff - downloading and making posts!!
unfortunately, the bots are incapable of self improvement
531 (significant) lines of HTML, 328 lines of python, 174 lines of CSS, 76 lines of SQL, 1 tired bune
comparitively, mstdn-ebooks is "just" 387 lines of python
it's been a while i last updated this thread, because it's also been a while since i did any major work on fedibooks. i've kinda pushed myself way too hard on it and i'm taking it more slowly now.
that said, i do have some new features to show off! firstly, fedibooks is now capable of scraping user posts. this is one of the key steps towards implementing full ebooks functionality. the first screenshot shows that fedibooks has successfully scraped all 63 of this account's posts.
secondly, there's now a nifty little bug report form for those of us without github accounts, shown in the second screenshot.
fedibooks is now capable of:
. authenticating with mastodon/pleroma
. scraping user posts
. generating and submitting its own posts
this means it can do nearly everything mstdn-ebooks can, and all that's left is replying!!
uh oh, looks like you're out of gems! your ebooks bot will stop posting until you have at least 3 more.
[ wait for gems to recharge (3h27m) ]
[ watch 3 ads ]
[ buy pack of 15 gems ($4.99) ]
there are a few minor features left now, and one major feature - replying. once that's done, fedibooks will be complete.
unfortunately, testing the reply functionality requires me to actually deploy fedibooks to a website, since i can't test it with localhost. this means it's going to be a bit of a hassle to implement.
however, i've looked at what needs to be done for reply functionality, and it seems pretty easy with web push - mastodon will automatically send a request to fedibooks with some info, which fedibooks can then reply to. it should be pretty simple 0u0
i want to implement reply functionality and bot settings, and then i'll release the first version of fedibooks for all to use!
once fedibooks is released, i'll be shutting down my paid ebooks hosting service in a week (since it's available for free now). i'll implement an "import from mstdn-ebooks" feature to ease the transition.
thank you so much to everyone who supported me on patreon!
i'm really excited for this. this is the first time i've ever actually managed to finish a major project! i often start things that are way too ambitious and never manage to finish them, but this time i did it!!
this is the screen that appears when you try to do something i haven't made yet
well i've run into a bit of an issue...
the bot creation process works on my small laptop and pet's laptop, but not on my big laptop. i have no idea why, it's the same code and everything, and my small laptop has the same firefox addons as the big one. i'm reading over the code and i really don't see how this bug works... and why does it only happen on one laptop??
@lynnesbian ooooooooo, lookin very nice!
my eyes are tingling with the urge to CSS
@lynnesbian so strange. Must be a bug.
@lynnesbian we have a similar issue in Tusky.
But it's not a high priority fix. 🙃
@lynnesbian does this also happen when you're trying to follow people on gab instances with the bot or is it not implemented yet
@knuxify not implemented yet, i'm still working on the bot creation phase
both of those instances are awful, so it would seriously surprise me if anyone wanted a bot under gab or spinster
@lynnesbian well done lynne, oauth is fucking scary. Proud of u 💙
@lynnesbian so proud of you hun!
@lynnesbian Which of your projects has the most commits?
@lynnesbian Clearly you need more one-character typo fixes so boost those numbers.
@lynnesbian look u don't need to call me out this hard
if you create two bots that pull from the same sources, can you then make them learn from each other?
@aradinfinity i guess so, yeah
@lynnesbian Take as much time as you need to, lynne. Taking care of yourself comes first. Congrats on your progress!
@lynnesbian lynne nO
@lynnesbian congratulations! What a fantastic service
@lynnesbian Congrats!!! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
@lynnesbian i know something else that will be coming soon
@lynnesbian my paycheck!
@lynnesbian coming sune
I might actually sign up for a fedibooks bot...
what's self hosting going to be like compared to e-books? easier? harder? about the same?
@mal it's gonna be a lot easier! you won't need to download or install everything, the whole thing is done through the website. everything from replies to post frequency can be set without editing config files or anything like that. it'll be hosted on my server, so you don't need to keep your laptop running 24/7
@lynnesbian try it on another computer and see what happens
@email@example.com's anti-chud pro-skub instance for funtimes