[backstage] Persian news IM bot now on Jabber (and other updates)

Forwarding from the BBC backstage list; some interesting I18N issues
around bidi content in IM tools. See 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/danbri/109247073/ for screenshot of the 
MSN version of Mario's bot, and links to his earlier announcement.
This is a tool that exposes BBC Persian newsfeeds via MSN and Jabber.
Exercises some of the issues Ian Forrester talked about in


----- Forwarded message from Mario Menti <mmenti@gmail.com> -----

From: Mario Menti <mmenti@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2006 23:33:40 +0000
To: backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk
Cc: hoder@hoder.com
Subject: [backstage] Persian news IM bot now on Jabber (and other updates)
Message-ID: <2dd7faef0603081533h4ad87a59w9d3b54ff2732076b@mail.gmail.com>
Reply-To: backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk

Hi all,

here's a brief update on recent conversations and developments on the
BBCPersian.com news bot.

1. A Jabber version of the bot is online at " bbcpersian@menti.name ".

I tried it with a number of different Jabber clients, and "proper" support
for Arabic/Farsi and BiDi rendering seems rather patchy (although I have to
admit there is the possibility that my bot is not sending the correct info
to make this work, in which case I am grateful for suggestions...).
Here's the summary of some tests I did with Windows Jabber clients:

- the one client that works beautifully, and handles BiDi correctly even in
messages with mixed English/Farsi text (i.e displays English LTR and Farsi
       Gaim (I used v2.0 beta2)

- clients that render the text ok, but don't orientate the overall message
RTL (so the text is OK, but not right-aligned):
       Psi, Exodus, Google Talk, Gajim, Pandion, meebo

- clients that don't even seem to render the Farsi UTF-8 text properly
(although maybe there's some settings to fix this, I haven't spent too much
time with this):
      Miranda IM

Haven't tried other clients or OSs yet.

2. Support for other IM networks:

Consensus appears to be that Yahoo IM is popular in Iran, so a Yahoo bot
would be useful. My current problem is that I can't find a working Yahoo
Messenger Protocol Perl module (the ones on CPAN seem out of date and not
functional). If anyone here knows of a working YIM Perl module, please let
me know (the bots are implemented in Perl).

3. Push or Pull?

When developing the previous (English) newsflash bot, I came across a
problem with the MSN switchboard when sending out a large number of
newsflash messages. I worked around it by staggering the sending of
messages, but the problem may well re-appear if large numbers of users make
use of the bot (on MSN at least). This problem is caused by the MSN bot
requesting too many active switchboards when it initiates the conversation
in order to send the newsflash, so is not an issue in a scenario where the
users initiate a chat with the bot (I had around 2000 users over a couple of
days on the BBC TV schedules bot after it was posted on Betanews and
Microsoft Watch, without any problems).

In order to minimise potential issues like these (if there ever are large
numbers of users), it may make sense to turn the bot from "push" to "pull" -
i.e. you contact the bot to get the latest news, rather than the bot sending
you the news headlines on a regular basis. I'd be interested to hear other
people's opinions on this.

----- End forwarded message -----

Received on Thursday, 9 March 2006 00:01:53 UTC