Nelson's log

Discord API first use

My gaming group is switching from Slack to Discord. It’s a nice product. It’s sort of a Slack clone with voice channels as the big added feature. It’s also a product aimed at gamers, not corporate use, so there’s some hope the pricing and features will make more sense for gamers. I like the product, it’s worth a look.

So now I need to make my Slack bot post to Discord, too. Discord currently has no formal API. There is a fantastic group of hackers doing an Unofficial API project, though, and the company seems OK with it. Compared to most hacking projects this one is particularly well documented and organized. I dove in this morning and figured out how to write my own bot that works with the Discord API.

First, some resources:

The Python client is very nicely documented and organized. If you’re starting afresh you want to get version 0.10.0a, the alpha, directly from GitHub. PyPI currently has 0.9. 0.10 has reorganized the API, no reason to use the old one now.

The client itself is entirely based on Python 3.4’s asyncio (with preference for the new 3.5 syntax if available). That means you basically have to do everything through an event loop, which is a bit of a nuisance for simple things but absolutely necessary for building real software that’s going to interact with a Discord server. it also means only works with Python 3.4 and later. I think that’s all the right choice.

Here is my demo program. It took me a couple of hours in total, half of which was me reminding myself how asyncio works. All in all pretty straightforward, once you figure out the basic paradigm of how it fits together. There’s one choice embedded in my code here, which is I subclassed discord.Client instead of using the function decorator syntax for declaring event handlers. Either works fine.

The unofficial API also makes me understand the Discord product a little better. Unlike Slack, Discord has a notion of a single User that is logged into Discord with an email/password. That user can then be a member of various Servers, each of which has its own Channels. Slack doesn’t really have a cross-Slack notion of User, every Slack is an independent domain. The Discord API’s handling of public/private/DM channels is also a bit more straightforward than Slack’s.