Posted on by Chris Warburton

I've been absent from for a while, since they disabled their XMPP bot :( Now that my new operating system seems to be Emacs, I thought I'd find another way to read and post, using flat files and commandlines (no, I don't want to use a bloody Web interface!)

The reading part is thankfully straightforward, since StatusNet generates RSS and Atom feeds of everything. The RSS 1 links seem to be broken, but the RSS 2 links point to

There are loads of commandline RSS readers out there, so I won't reiterate that. This is all, thankfully, standard.

Posting is a little more difficult, and I originally tried this commandline posting script but it was a little off from what I wanted.

Firstly, this requires storing my password in plaintext (or at least in an easily recoverable way). That's just silly. Secondly I would prefer a dedicated status-posting REPL (Read Eval Print Loop) rather than having to prefix every line with the same command. An Emacs buffer would be nice, but a commandline is easier to throw together.

These two requirements actually go hand in hand; if we don't store the password then we must take it as an argument, and since getting a password prompt every time woud be tedious, we may as well sit in a REPL and reuse the same password over and over.

Here's the code I've come up with, based on the link above (replace warbo with your username):

#!/usr/bin/env python
"""Read a password then enter a REPL for posting messages to"""

# Define this now, since its scope is quite wide
exit_commands = ('quit', 'exit')

# Define some useful functions. We use def/call/del to capture state in closures

def make_out():
    """Returns a function for printing to stdout."""
    from sys import stdout
    return lambda msg: (lambda _: (stdout.write(msg), stdout.flush()))
out = make_out()

def make_dent():
    """Creates a function for denting (posting to"""
    from urllib import urlencode
    from getpass import getpass
    import urllib2 as u
    url     = ''
    passman = u.HTTPPasswordMgrWithDefaultRealm()
    passman.add_password(None, url, 'warbo', getpass())
    opener  = u.build_opener(u.HTTPBasicAuthHandler(passman))
    req     = u.Request(url)
    return lambda msg:, urlencode({'status': msg}))
dent = make_dent()

def quit(_):
    """Exit the program."""
    print 'Bye!'
    from sys import exit

# Handle messages based on their content. Works like LISP's cond; pop off
# (condition, function) pairs until condition is True, then run function(msg)
handle = lambda(msg): filter(lambda (x, y): x, [
    (len(msg) > 140,               out('Too long: ' + str(len(msg)) + '\n')),
    (msg in exit_commands,         quit),
    (True,                         dent)

# Finally 'tie the knot' between and stdin, to make our REPL
print 'To quit, type ' + ' or '.join(map(repr, exit_commands))
while True: handle(raw_input('> '))

I'm not sure about the def/call/del style I've used here; it's reminiscent of Javascript, but Python doesn't allow anonymous procedures. Still, I quite like the way handle works ;) Note that it doesn't try to handle any exceptions, but in this case I don't see the point uglifying the code when seeing a stack trace is the most helpful output anyway.

I've stuck this in Git and will publish it somewhere as soon as I get non-stupid access to Gitorious (bloody cookies, ruining the stateless purity of HTTP!)