Identi.ca and XMPP

I've been trying out micro-blogging through Identi.ca recently. (I'm jpichon, if you're curious.) I find their integration with XMPP both awesome and handy, so here's a quick guide to setting it up and using it, if you haven't given it a try yet.

Activating it

Start by adding update@identi.ca to your buddy list. Then, log in to your Identi.ca account, go to Connect -> I.M. and enter your XMPP enabled address. They say any Jabber or GTalk account will work, I'd be surprised if it didn't work with any XMPP account.

Authorise update@identi.ca when it asks to add you, and tadam! You are set to send and receive updates, depending on the options you selected on that initial Connect -> I.M. screen.

How to use it

Don't trust the Identi.ca help page as it appears new commands have been added since it was last updated. If you open a chat with your new update@identi.ca buddy and type 'help', you'll see the following menu:

(12:34:56) update@identi.ca: [Identi.ca] Commands:
on - turn on notifications
off - turn off notifications
help - show this help
follow <nickname> - subscribe to user
groups - lists the groups you have joined
subscriptions - list the people you follow
subscribers - list the people that follow you
leave <nickname> - unsubscribe from user
d <nickname> <text> - direct message to user
get <nickname> - get last notice from user
whois <nickname> - get profile info on user
lose <nickname> - force user to stop following you
fav <nickname> - add user's last notice as a 'fave'
fav #<notice_id> - add notice with the given id as a 'fave'
repeat #<notice_id> - repeat a notice with a given id
repeat <nickname> - repeat the last notice from user
reply #<notice_id> - reply to notice with a given id
reply <nickname> - reply to the last notice from user
join <group> - join group
login - Get a link to login to the web interface
drop <group> - leave group
stats - get your stats
stop - same as 'off'
quit - same as 'off'
sub <nickname> - same as 'follow'
unsub <nickname> - same as 'leave'
last <nickname> - same as 'get'
on <nickname> - not yet implemented.
off <nickname> - not yet implemented.
nudge <nickname> - remind a user to update.
invite <phone number> - not yet implemented.
track <word> - not yet implemented.
untrack <word> - not yet implemented.
track off - not yet implemented.
untrack all - not yet implemented.
tracks - not yet implemented.
tracking - not yet implemented.

(As a side-note, if you see me saying 'help' on Identi.ca, I'm not in trouble, I probably fat-fingered the command. Ignore!)

These are all the cool commands to do basic micro-blogging tasks from the comfort of your IM client, as well as a few house-keeping tasks. I particularly like the commands using ids: Identi.ca has a feature I find very nice, the link "in context" under notices that let you follow the flow of a conversation (see an example). Replying / repeating with id lets you preserve this link.

For a bit of context (heh!), when you have your IM client open and someone you're subscribed to writes a notice, you'll see something like this:

(21:23:51) update@identi.ca: CoolKid789: Hello, world! [12345]

12345 is the notice id, so you still don't need to open a browser. Usually, both the id and the person name appear as hyperlinks, if you'd like quick access to the web view. To preserve the link, I would reply:

reply #12345 @CoolKid789 OHAI!

The actual notice posted (and associated character count) will start from @, and the 'in context' information will be preserved.

Something to watch out for: When I initially tried this, I kept getting a "Message too long" error, even when writing very short notices. It turns out that when I was copying the ids in my IM client, Pidgin, I was also copying the url for the initial notice, even if I couldn't see it. Right-click -> Reset formatting in the text area and the problem is solved. Have fun!


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