Back in October 2017, I soft-launched a Swedish clone of the lovely Twitter chatbot NYPL Emoji Bot. Basically it is a node app listening to Twitter mentions aimed at @Emojimuseet which 1) checks if there’s an emoji in the tweet, and if there is 2) replies with a URL pulled from a static JSON file. There’s also a ”status” script that tweets a random emoji with matching URL which can be run by a cron job at regular intervals.

The code for the NYPL Emoji bot is open source and available on Github, so there were only a few steps to get it up and running:

  1. Fork the project & update the .env file with Twitter credentials
  2. Replace the NYPL urls with new links to Swedish museum collections (work in progress – see below)
  3. Find a server to host the app. Luckily the Nordic Museum already has an excellent and flexible hosting provider (hi Cloudnet!) who setup a PM2 process for me to keep the app running.

I added a bunch of emojis and invited museum colleagues around Sweden to contribute with emoji ideas from their own collections. Right now, after lots & lots of very serious emoji research at multiple institutions, around 800 emojis have one or more matching urls from five different sources: Digitalt museum (a joint site for more than 50 Swedish museums), Nationalmuseum, Världskulturmuseerna, Stockholmskällan and Spårvägsmuseet.

As a side project during January 2018, I wanted to find out if I could get the bot running on Facebook as well. There are a few node modules available that provide a middleman for the Facebook Messenger API, and decided on messenger-bot. The code is horribly written (since I never quite get the hang of proper object-oriented programming) but hey, it works. Again I needed help from Cloudnet to get the server-side connection working (in particular, Facebook Messenger requires a https connection) but the app is up and running and available at facebook.com/emojimuseet. One snag in the app review process was that the fields for example queries and responses actually couldn’t handle emojis, confusing both app reviewers and myself until I figured out what was going on.

Try out the chatbot on Twitter or Facebook! The code is available on Github.