I’ve written before about IM in the workplace. It’s becoming more and more prevalent, and other people have noticed this as well. IM is something that’s easy to use, and gives you the immediate response of the phone without be nearly as intrusive.

Now, in the past, using IRC, it was relatively easy to have a program, or bot, that would listen to conversations, or that you could ask questions of. They were dumb, but they worked. In the world of IM, I wasn’t aware of any easy way to do this. However, browsing freshmeat yesterday I discovered an easy way to write IM applications.

It’s called the SDBA Revolution Instant Messaging Application Server and building IM applications is fantastically easy if you use this perl framework. I was able to download it, and build a simple application in about 30 minutes. And that includes signing up for the usernames from AOL. It uses a perlish syntax and doesn’t support extremely complicated applications, but does offer enough to be useful. If you can code a php website, you can build an IM application. The author even provides six or so sample applications, including a database interface (scary!). The only issues I found with the IM app server were:

1. It doesn’t support Yahoo! That’s because the Yahoo! IM perl module has been unmaintained since the last Yahoo! protocol update.

2. I’m not sure of the legality of using a bot on a public service like AIM, MSN, or Yahoo!. Violations of these license agreements happen all the time, but, if you’re a stickler for those darn license agreements, this application server appears to work with Jabber.

Just goes to show you that 30 minutes a week browsing freshmeat or SourceForge will almost never be wasted. A bit of slack to do this will probably pay off in the long run.


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