March 29, 2010

Xtensive Spectator: our corporate Skype bot :)

We use Skype for for many of our in-company talks - mainly, because of its group chats. Historically we had "Came in, came out" chat there ("Пришел, ушел" in Russian) - and there are quite simple rules for writing into this chat:
  • If employee enters our office, it writes "++" there (or "+1" ;) ) 
  • If employee leaves our office, it writes "--" there
  • If someone starts to work @ home, it types "++ @ home", and vice versa
  • Generally, it's a bad idea to write anything else to this chat.
  • All of us know when someone comes or leaves the office
  • All of us know who cames too late (actually, this doesn't work as we expected)
  • Finally, it's possible to make some statistics based on this info. 
The last part (statistics) was implemented few months ago: Marat Faskhiev has written a Skype bot capable of participating in our "Came in, came out" chat and providing textual reports on commands like "report" sent to it personally. 


++ and -- messages:


("month" is report showing hours we spent in March; only a part of employees is visible on screenshots)

Obviously, this is just a kind of evaluation for us - i.e. as far as I know, such a "big brother" isn't seriously taken into account by most of our employees; on the other hand, I believe finally it can be useful. Statistics it provides gives some insight on how much time people really spend on work, and which of them work harder.

And, what is more attractive, such a bot can be extended to e.g. do the following:
  • Pariticipate in all important Skype chats as corporate chat recorder
  • Provide browser-based UI allowing to search chat history & provide permalinks to certain discussions (e.g. related to bugs), and obviously, browse various statistics
  • Operate as intagration point: e.g. with RSS feeds (most likely there are such bots), issue trackers, build server, Twitter and so on.
So the question is: what do you think, can this tiny application evolve to a corporate tool for small companies like ours, that intensively use Skype, and what features must be added to it to make it really useful?

Btw, would you like to see it as DO4 sample application?