Build A Fully Featured Niche Twitter Clone With Laconi.ca Open Source

There is no denying that the microblogging format Twitter is based upon has exploded over the past few years you simply have to look at Twitters overall exponential growth to further validate this fact. So what about starting your own self hosted niche twitter clone website? Surely there isn’t an Open Source Microblogging application that would emulate twitter is there? step up Laconi.ca a fully featured microblogging application that does just this, written in PHP and best of all Open Source.

A few months back we published an article titled “Ever Wanted To Start Your Own Twitter Clone? Now You Can” which listed various applications Open Source and Commercial that allowed anyone to start there own microblogging website just like twitter. One of the featred application within that article was Laconi.ca which was an open source microblogging application that had all the features of twitter and then some, the largest website running the Laconi.ca code live at the moment is Identi.ca.

After having some time to play around with Laconi.ca lately i have to say that i was really impressed with the application. Okay so it doesn’t have a fancy admin section, in fact there is no admin section at all but don’t let that put you off as this application as it’s easy to configure and install. Most of the important setting for Laconi.ca are contained within the config.php and can be easily changed if you know what FTP means.

It’s the features of Laconi.ca though that really make this application shine. All the features you already use on twitter are present, follow members, unfollow members, block members, #hashtags, along with a few others like, favorite/save message and the ability to create groups. Members can also input their twitter account details into their Laconi.ca profile, all messages they submit to your Laconi.ca site will then also be posted to their chosen twitter account. Members can post notices with their browser, their favorite Jabber/GTalk application, Email, SMS or one of many other desktop and web applications including Twhirl that are already compatible with the Laconi.ca core. A wordpress plugin is also available Laconica WordPress Plugin it’s from 2008 and untested by us so may or may not still work.

Laconica implements the OpenMicroBlogging protocol, meaning that you can have friends on other microblogging services that will receive your notices. The web interface is the main interface to the functions of a Laconica server. When logged in, there are three major parts on the main page: the main menu to the right of the logo, an input box and the public timeline.

identica063main

The tabs below the input box in version 0.6.3 will bring you to the public timeline, the overview page of the recent used tags, a list of featured users on the Laconica server and a list of notices that were marked as favorites the most this week.

As you can see from all the features the Laconi.ca application is a pretty advanced and has all the features you or your users would require and come to expect from a microblogging platform.

Common Features Explained

To send a notice to the server, simply type in the input box and press the Send button. The notice should immediately enter the public timeline below.

via XMPP/Jabber

To use Laconica with XMPP (Jabber/GTalk) just add the XMPP bot of your Laconica platform to your contacts (at identi.ca this is update[at]identi.ca). Then make sure your settings (IM tab) are set properly.

Sending “help” to the bot will give you an overview what it can do for you. As of version 0.6.0 the commands it understands are:

 on     - turn on notifications
 off    - turn off notifications
 help   - show this help
 sub    - subscribe to user
 unsub  - unsubscribe from user

The list of commands has grown somewhat, just try “help” to see the all the commands.

To send a notice, just send it to the bot. If you enabled it in the setting, notices from people you’re subscribed to will be delivered to your XMPP account.

If you’re at a supported platform (currently that is identica, twitarmy and twitter) you can use dustins IdentiSpy service to track specific topics. Add laconica[at]west.spy.net to your contact list. Send a help to that adress for a short introduction.

For some currently unknown reasons identi.ca has a problem with jabber.org XMPP accounts. If it happens to sadden your Laconica experience you might try another XMPP service.

via email

To post dents via email you have to create an Incoming email adress in “Settings -> Email”. If you did, you can send emails with the address you entered above in the settings to this address to post notices.

The settings are case sensitive, so Testaddress[at]example.com is not the same as testaddress[at]example.com!

Details on features

The following section should give some more details of the features that are implemented.

public timeline

The public timeline is the live stream of all notices that are posted. Every notice that is not a direct notice will show up in the public timeline. Everybody can read and answer to it.

The main menu, located at the top of the page consists of six links: Home, Search, Tags, Settings, Invite and Logout.The Home link points to your profile (see below).

tags

Following the Tag link, you’ll reach a cloud of the recent tags. The entries in the cloud are linked with a list of all dents, that where taged with that word.

Tags are used to categorize dents. Tags are linked with an overview page, that shows all notices that got marked with the tag.

To set a tag you have to prefix the tag-to-be with a hash (that’s the #). Currently (as of Laconica version 0.6.0) tags may contain ASCII characters (alphanumeric and underscores) UPPER, lower and mixed case, but no UTF8.

Examples

  • valid tags: #thIS #is #a #Valid #TAG
  • invalid tags: #€uro #Übertragung

Since version 0.6.3 of Laconica you now can also tag yourself and your friends.

friendtags

Since version 0.6.3 of Laconica you can tag your contacts. To do so go to your profile page and follow one of the links “Subscribers”, “Subscriptions” or “All subscriptions” (below the icons of your contacts). There you’ll see all your contacts in a list, with their associatied tag or “(none)”. To change the tags simply follow the Tags link for that contact.

So why tagging your contacts?

  1. you can send dents to a group of friends tagged with the same tag with @#thetag
  2. if you’ve a lot of people subscribed, you can shorting the list with displaying only the contacts mathing to a selected tag.

search functions

Here you can search either for people on a Laconica server, or a piece of text in the public notices. The search item have to have three (3) or more letters. You can search for more than one word at once, separating the search items with a space.

Logical expressions and the order of your search items are ignored.

invite

Since version 0.6.0 you can invite friends to Laconica based platforms. Following the Invite link brings you to a form with two boxes. In the upper one you list the email addresses of the people you wish to invite, one per line, and in the lower you can add a message to be sent along with the default message. If the person accepts the invitation you’ll be notified.

Invitation emails consist of a short introduction of the server and who invited you. With links to the profile of the member who send out the invitation and to register at the server.

If you invite somebody that is already active at the Laconica server, you will automatically be subscribed to that account.

your profile – the tabs and what’s behind them

If you follow the Home link in the main menu, you’ll reach your profile. Currently (version 0.6.0 of Laconica) it is subdivided into six tabs:

identica063home

personal

The personal timeline in your profile is the collection of all your notices and the notices of the accounts you are subscribed to.

replies

In the replies tab you’ll find answerts to your notices. Laconica counts every notice that includes a @yourusername as a reply to you. Replies are public as any other notice you write–if you don’t wish that, send a direct notice instead.

profile

The profile page shows your personal information that you can alter in the Settings Area. There is also a small area listing statistics of your activities; to whom you are subscribed and who is subscribed to you. The profile tab is also the place where all your notices (except direct notices) are collected.

Here you’ll also find links to the list of people who subscribed to you, and you are subscribed to. In these lists you can tag your friends.

favorites

Since version 0.6.0 Laconica supports marking a notice as favorite, like bookmarks in your browser. All the notices you marked as favorite will be listed in the Favorites tab of your profile. Everybody can browse your favorites.

To mark a notice as favorite, there is a button in the near of the notice, depending on the styling. The author of the notice will receive an email notification, that you marked the dent as your favorite. At identica it’s a small heart at the right side of the notice.

Since version 0.6.3 there is a tab at the main page of Laconica, where the most faved dents are collected called “Favorited” or since version 0.6.4 “Popular”.

Spam and Blocking other users]

Since version 0.6.4 of Laconica you can block other users from your account. They are then forced to unsubscribe from your account and can not resubscribe to it. Further they can no longer send you @-replies.

There is a block link around profiles in their profile or your subscribers/subscriptions lists. If you want to block someone.

direct notices [inbox / outbox]

Since version 0.6.0 you can send direct messages other Laconica users, as long as both of you are subscribed to each other.

If this is the case, you’ll find a link below the avatar of the users profile follow the link and type the direct message. Another possibility is to go to either your inbox or your outbox. In both cases right above the input box, there is a pull down menu of all the accounts you can send direct notices to. Select the recipient from this menu, type the message and hit the Send button.

The inbox and outbox tabs are not publicly visible and will only be displayed if you are logged in and view your own profile. Direct messages will not show up in the public timeline. They will only be visible in the Inbox and Outbox tabs of your profile. If you receive a direct message, you’ll be notified with an email containing the direct message and a link to reply to the message.

Since version 0.6.1 of Laconica you can use direct messages by beginning a notice with “d username”.

twitter related

Since version 0.6.3 you can syncronise your friend lists between your Laconica account and twitter. You’ll be automatically connected to other local twitter users in your friendlist, if you two have set up the twitter settings in your profile.

twitter bridge (0.6.0)

Simply enter your Twitter username and password into the ‘Twitter’ tab on the Settings page. Afterwards all dent’s are also posted to Twitter. Currently (version 0.6.0) this only works from the web interface.

To stop sending updates to Twitter, go back to the ‘Twitter’ tab on the Settings pages and click ‘Remove’.

What are you waiting for go and setup your very own twitter like site withLacinica now!

Download: Laconica Open Source Microblogging Platform

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Article Details

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Author: on May 25th, 2009

Category: Laconica

Tags: , ,

  1. bbrian017 says:

    Hi Lincoln,

    The software looks great but in all reality do we really need another one of these websites?

    I’m already tired of twitter let alone a twitter clone!

    See pligg did well because of all the niche markets available to get into…

    What can a successful niche for twitter be?

    If any I’m thinking movies, torrents, or for bloggers only but again how long can the hype go for?

    Nice write up!

  2. Catchpen says:

    Great read. I’m thinking when the viral spread of Twitter wears off, software like this might take off, but not as a stand alone CMS more of an addition to an already established site. The question about Twitter is: Is there enough glue to support the Twitter microblogging feature as a stand alone site? I just don’t see a lot there other than link exchange. In my opinion Twitter clones would make an excellent side feature on a web site that could take place of something like a chatroom.

  3. fredmarks says:

    Another free twitter clone like laconica is http://www.floopo.com