Making botsofcode - An Introduction to Twitter Bots

Another addition to my bot army! This time, I made a very simple twitter bot for this blog, @botsofcode (Source Code).

The Setup #

I created @botsofcode using Twit, a simple Twitter API Client for Node.js. To setup Twit, we need to first create a Twitter Application and get four private keys.

  • Consumer Key (API Key)
  • Consumer Secret (API Secret)
  • Access Token
  • Access Token Secret

Once the application is created, these keys can be found under the ‘Keys and Access Tokens’ section.

Twitter API Page section showing the four private keys

Once we have these keys, we can create a new Node.js project and initialise Twit.

const Twit = require('twit');
const T = new Twit({
access_token: ACCESS_TOKEN_HERE,
access_token_secret: ACCESS_TOKEN_SECRET_HERE

Listening for Events and Keywords #

Twitter's Streaming APIs gives us access to the global stream of tweets. There are two streams we can currently follow -

  • The Public Stream, which is the stream of all public tweets
  • The User Stream, which is a stream of tweets corresponding to a single user's view

@botsofcode uses the public stream, because it listens for tweets from any user that mention this blog.

We can create a stream of tweets based on a filter using the statuses/filter endpoint and passing an object with the filter parameters. We can pass parameters like language or location, but to filter by keyword, we use the track parameter. This accepts a string or array of keywords to watch for.

const stream ='statuses/filter', { track: ['', 'bitsofcode'] });

Once the stream is created, we can listen for any tweets that fall within the stream.

stream.on('tweet', (tweet) => {
// Do something with the tweet

Responding to Events #

Twitter's REST API allows us to take pretty much any action you could if you were using twitter directly. We can post tweets, retweet, reply to tweets, follow users, favourite/like, etc.

I built @botsofcode to be able to take four actions - retweet, like, reply, and add to a list.

Retweet #

If the tweet found from the stream was from myself (@ireaderinokun), @botsofcode should just retweet it. We can retweet by posting to the /statuses/retweet/:id endpoint.

const me = {
id: 2714960622,
screen_name: 'ireaderinokun'

const stream ='statuses/filter', { track: ['', 'bitsofcode'] });
stream.on('tweet', (tweet) => {
if ( === ) {'statuses/retweet/:id', { id: tweet.id_str });

Like #

If the tweet was from any other account, like it. We can like a tweet by posting to the /favorites/create endpoint, passing the id of the tweet we want to like.

stream.on('tweet', (tweet) => {

if ( === ) { ... }'favorites/create', { id: tweet.id_str });

Reply #

If the tweet was by any other user, send them a reply. We can reply to a tweet by posting to the /statuses/update endpoint and passing the id of the tweet we are replying to.

stream.on('tweet', (tweet) => {

if ( === ) { ... }'favorites/create', { id: tweet.id_str });'statuses/update', {
status: `@${tweet.user.screen_name} Thanks for sharing! ${emojis[Math.floor(Math.random() * emojis.length)]`,
in_reply_to_status_id: tweet.id_str


Add to List #

Finally, add the user to a twitter list. We can do this by posting to the lists/members/create endpoint and passing the list parameters.

stream.on('tweet', (tweet) => {

if ( === ) { ... }'favorites/create', { id: tweet.id_str });'statuses/update', {
status: `@${tweet.user.screen_name} Thanks for sharing! ${emojis[Math.floor(Math.random() * emojis.length)]`,
in_reply_to_status_id: tweet.id_str
});'lists/members/create', {
slug: 'bitsofcoders',
owner_screen_name: botsofcode.screen_name,
screen_name: tweet.user.screen_name


Deployment #

I used Heroku to host @botsofcode. Deploying a Node.js app to Heroku is simple, we just need to make sure that the following information is specified in our package.json file -

  • The main script
  • The start script
  • Any dependencies
  • The version of Node.js

This is my package.json file for the bot -

"name": "botsofcode",
"version": "1.0.0",
"description": "A bot for",
"main": "index.js",
"scripts": {
"start": "node index.js"
"author": "ire-aderinokun",
"dependencies": {
"twit": "^2.2.4"
"engines": {
"node": "4.1.1"

Optional - Setting up Config Variables #

To keep the Twitter Application keys out of the app files, I used Heroku's config variables. These can be defined under the application settings.

Heroku Application Conifg Variables

In the actual application script, we can then reference them as environment variables -

const T = new Twit({
consumer_key: process.env.consumer_key,
consumer_secret: process.env.consumer_secret,
access_token: process.env.access_token,
access_token_secret: process.env.access_token_secret

That's it! You can follow @botsofcode, view it's source, or click the tweet button below to see it in action.

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