Trailbot: Philly

A tool to help Philadelphia-area runners and hikers explore the great outdoors. A prototype Twitterbot made using JSON and Tracery.

The inspiration: One of my favorite holiday traditions is ringing in the New Year by going for a First Day Hike. With that in mind, I started browsing the trails at Pennsylvania State Parks and realized that the information I was gathering might make for a pretty fun and useful little Twitterbot project.

The process: So, I compiled information on various trails in the Philadelphia area into a spreadsheet and used Kate Compton’s Tracery text generation tool to create @trailbotphilly, a localized running/hiking trail suggestion tool. It was a pretty quick little project, made slightly more complicated by the deterministic nature of some of the variables. It’s now up and running, and tweets daily!


Next steps:

  • Incorporate area biking and horseback riding trails
  • Insert urls that link to trail details and/or maps
  • Include images and emojis via SVG format

Make your own:
Are you interested in creating a similar project?  Head over to Kate Compton’s Tracery webpage and Github repository. The readme file on the Github is a pretty useful primer, but you can also find tutorials for Twitterbots at Bot Wiki. If you’re looking for an easy, free hosting solution, I recommend Cheap Bots, Done Quick!