Deprecating Support for IM and Twitter Channels
We’re making changes to the number of channels that can be used to connect to applications running on the Tropo platform.
Specifically, we’ll be deprecating support for the IM and Twitter channel. The ability to add IM and Twitter bots to Tropo apps will be turned off shortly, and will be turning off servers running these features as of January 28.
Over the last several months, it has become apparent that running an IM bot hosting service is something that cannot be done profitably. When we added IM to Tropo several years ago, the popular IM networks had programs for running bots – bypassing limits in contact lists and message volume, for example. This made it feasible to run a large scale IM bot. However, over the last year, these programs have started to disappear. Our contacts at IM providers have left the companies or been reassigned. It’s become clear that this is a business that public IM providers no longer want to be in.
We’ve tried to keep IM support operational despite the fact that not only have we had no support from IM networks, but we have also had to fight the networks actively stopping and shutting down IM bots. Continuing to do this requires a significant amount of resources, and does not bring in enough revenue to justify the battle.
So we’re shutting down the service.
The logical question that many of you will have next is “what can I do instead?” Unfortunately, we’re not aware of any viable IM bot hosting services. Those that we knew of have all gone away. One alternative is to host one yourself. Building a basic XMPP (Jabber) bot isn’t hard. You just need to sign up with an XMPP host, someone like Gmail or Jabber.org will work for low-traffic bots. There are numerous tutorials and frameworks for building XMPP bots in your language of choice. A discussion thread on Quora has some other ideas.
Once you have a XMPP bot up, you can connect it to other IM networks using XMPP Gateways (also known as Transports). These sign on to an IM network for you, and relay messages to and from an XMPP account. There’s not much in the way of public gateways available, so to go this route, you may need to host your XMPP server and your gateways yourself. Spectrum and Kraken are two popular gateways, and Kraken is available as an easy-to-install plugin for Openfire, an open source XMPP server.
If you have concerns or questions about the shutdown or if you have a large scale bot and want to discuss commercial terms for IM bot hosting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.