A Django-based Chat Bot System

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What It Is

Yardbird is a Python package that allows you to write IRC chat bots using Django. Internally it uses Twisted Python to provide a sort of "IRC client runserver" that dispatches incoming messages to your Django apps. This saves you from having to ever see or touch Twisted code, and lets you use Django models and templates in your bot.

How to Get It

How to Develop It

Development of both the Yardbird chatbot system and the IOTower example app is done from a single bazaar tree. To get access to the development tree, simply run:

bzr branch lp:yardbird

...and you will have a complete source tree with the yardbird and iotower packages as well as an example Django IRC Bot setup.

How to Install

If you are using the PPA or other provided packages, you're all set! Otherwise, you can either use the provided setup.py to install the yardbird/ package into your PYTHONPATH, or copy/link the yardbird/ tree directly into your project as an application, like so:

|-- __init__.py
|-- manage.py
|-- settings.py
|-- testapp
|   |-- __init__.py
|   |-- models.py
|   `-- views.py
|-- urls.py
`-- yardbird
    |-- __init__.py

Now you're ready to write some IRC dispatchers and views!

How to Run

The yardbird app inculdes a runircbot management command, so that you can simply:

./manage.py runircbot

and it will connect according to the IRC_CHANNELS variable from settings.py. IRC_CHANNELS is a sequence of irc:// or ircs:// urls, like the following:

 u'ircs://irc.slashnet.org:6697/#\u2615', # unicode teacup

The above will connect to Slashnet via SSL, with nickname nerdbird and server password password. Since Slashnet passes the server password through to NickServ, this avoids the need for a special NickServ application. The first line also joins #yardbird and notes that it is privileged, meaning that the operators in that channel may use restricted commands.

The next two channels (#birdland and #☕) are part of the same connection, so they use the same settings that #yardbird did.

The last entry is an SSL connection to OFTC with the nickname examplebot. OFTC uses SSL user certificates to authenticate to NickServ, so the query string specifies where the certificate and key files are to be found.

In addition to IRC_CHANNELS, you must set ROOT_MSGCONF to the module that contains privmsg and any other IRC events that you want your bot to handle. Typically it mimics ROOT_URLCONF like so:

ROOT_URLCONF = 'example.urls'
ROOT_MSGCONF = 'example'

How to Code for Yardbird

Writing apps for Yardbird, or hooking existing Web apps into Yardbird, is similar to writing ordinary Django apps. The key differences are as follows:

  1. There are multiple message types, so in place of urls.py, you will have a number of dispatchers: one for each message type you wish to handle.
  2. Since IRC is not HTTP, the request and response objects are different, and new shortcuts are provided.
  3. A different set of signals exists for the IRC request start/finish events. Model signals, however, remain the same.


The key dispatchable events are as follows:

privmsg:Normal messages sent either privately or in a channel
action:"Emotes" sent using the /me command
topic:Changes to a channel's topic
nick:Changes in a user's nickname

Typical bots are only interested in the privmsg and possibly action events. As an example, a bot that wished to treat them both the same would create a privmsg.py in the directory specified by settings.ROOT_MSGCONF with a standard Django urlpatterns structure, and would then symlink actions.py to the privmsg dispatcher.

It is recommended that you keep IRC-specific views in a separate package. The Yardbird maintainers use ircviews.py, but anything will do.

Request and Response Objects

The IRCRequest and IRCResponse objects in the yardbird.irc module are notably simpler than their HTTP counterparts. They effectively behave as simple structs, with only a little initialization logic.

While HTTP Django assumes that any successful response will be an HTTP 200 code, IRC responses must specify which mechanism the reply will use. Currently the options are:

PRIVMSG:To reply as IRC 'speech' either privately or in a channel
ACTION:To reply with the description of an action, as with the /me command in most clients.
NOTICE:To reply with a CTCP NOTICE that is clearly the result of an automated system.
TOPIC:To change the topic of a channel.
QUIET:To silently discard the IRCResponse data.
RESET:To trigger a reimport of all loaded apps.


The yardbird.shortcuts module has a few handy shortcuts to simplify the crafting of IRCResponse objects:

render_to_response:Renders a template using a supplied dictionary, and sends the result to a specified recipient by an optional method (defaults to PRIVMSG)
render_to_reply:Renders a template using a supplied dictionary as a reply to the user in the supplied request object.
render_quick_reply:Renders a template using the supplied request object's __dict__ as context, and sends as a reply to the original recipient.
render_silence:Returns an IRCResponse which uses the QUIET method.
render_error:Returns an error message to the specified recipient with the NOTICE method.


The yardbird.signals package implements two new signals:

request_started:Fired off before an IRCRequest is dispatched to yardbird views.
request_finished:Fired off after an IRCRequest is dispatched to yardbird views.