I'm happy to announce that my barebones ActivityPub server, implemented in Node.js/Express, is now open source! I intend for it to be a reference implementation for developers who are adding ActivityPub to their own services, but also it is an application server that you can build on if you want.

In other words, t's a few hundred lines of code that lets you create Mastodon-compatible accounts that can accept follow requests and post stuff to their followers.

github.com/dariusk/express-act

I actually built a little toy service (that I will also eventually open source) which converts any RSS feed to an ActivityPub actor that you can subscribe to in Mastodon (or any other AP-compatible client).

Play with it if you like! It is SUPER rough and most feeds end up horribly rendered in Mastodon but it's still kinda cool to see it work: bots.tinysubversions.com/conve

@darius

Thanks for building this.

I set up @Algot

and then did a feed update.

As yet, the account has not displayed anything via the Mastodon web client.

@Algot Did you follow the account? Its updates will only appear in your notifications feed because there is no persistence for a "profile" page with a list of posts (yet)

@Algot if you update again with a new post, let me know, I'm following it now too

@darius

I'll go do that next.

Does it matter how many items are in the feed?

@Algot No, it shouldn't. It just does a diff every time it polls the feed and then posts any new items.

@darius

How does my mastodon account get a notification?

I have followed the @Algot

But how does that account know that my masto account exists to notify me?

By way of my follow?

@Algot when you follow an account you send it a "Follow" message, and then that account adds your account to a local database. Then when it makes a post you're in the list of accounts to notify.

Follow

@darius

Just did a site update to the RSS file with a timestamp of

Sat Sep 15 2018 16:20:00 GMT

now I wait.

@Algot Something seems not working, I'll try and figure it out!

@Algot I fixed it! Just a silly bug in my code. Your next RSS update should post to you within a minute or two. (the account I'm screenshotting here is @dfktest , I just copied your RSS feed to my own server and added/removed items for my own testing purposes)

@darius

Glad to serve as a code-test guinea pig!

@darius

Nothing has shown up here yet.

Should I see a notification with a message including my .art account name?

Or will the bot's toot only appear in my home timeline...where it might go by sometimes without being seen.

@Algot It simply appears in your home timeline. It's not a notification.

@darius

As I sit thinking about it, I'll probably not use this tool as-is (or ask others to follow the account) if the bot doesn't send a notification.

That's not actually a complaint. I understand the idea it is just doing a standard toot and that that is what most bots should do.

But as a way to be sure I know about updates to a very intermittent RSS feed like mine, someone would too often miss that a new post had occurred.

@Algot It only appears in your timeline, not as a notification. If you want to prioritize it you could always make a list for RSS feeds. But it's essentially like following the feed for any website or company or person -- most updates do not get addressed directly to you.

@darius

I remain very impressed with the concept of making RSS accessible using ActivityPub.

I am a fan of the RSS feed concept, and your work clearly shows that it can have legs in the fediverse, too.

@Algot Thanks! What I actually hope happens is that clients begin to support things like "notify me in my notifications column every time this account posts even if it's not directed at me". My hope is that by providing these kinds of tools, client implementors will be incentivized to support them.

@darius

Have you reached out to the main Mastodon/Pleroma/PixelFed/etc.
developers?

I would expect that they would be interested in your ideas.

@Algot Yes! I even know some people involved in ActivityPub itself.

@darius

I'll be interested to see how this whole federation thing continues to develop.

Accessory projects like your bot have real potential to enrich the system.

@darius

I do follow a lot of people, probably more than I should, but I like to be able to catch onto new ideas like yours as random people I follow boost posts like yours.

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