A fast-paced digital world requires smart, efficient work. Although business leaders and traders still focus on the vital few, they are delegating the trivial many not to human beings, but to machines—bots.
Some of these traders use pre-programmed bots, while others prefer to build their bots with customized functions. Coding bots require an understanding of the right programming language to use. But before delving into programming languages for coding bots, let’s understand what bots are and how they work.
What Are Bots?
Bots (also called internet bots or web bots) are designed to execute tasks repeatedly. They are computer programs that operate over a network and function automatically and independently. Bots are often programmed to mimic human behavior. Thus, there are different types of bots depending on the behavior or function they mimic—whether good or bad. The cryptocurrency space is one ecosystem that has seen the rise of both good and bad bots
Bots: Good Guys vs. Bad Guys
Bots can be broadly categorized into good and malicious. Good bots carry out useful tasks (e.g., chatting with clients), while malicious bots play a role in malicious internet activities such as phishing and DDoS attacks.
Some bots programmed to carry out helpful tasks include:
- Social network bots: These crawl websites shared on social media platforms to optimize them for searches and recommendations. Some social network bots serve as anti-spam bots, while others maintain safe online spaces by monitoring user interactions. Social network bots can also help users schedule, make, and engage with posts.
- Search engine bots: Similar to social network bots, search engine bots crawl the Web to index websites and optimize them for searches. Major search engines have their own bots. Examples include Googlebot, Bingbot, Yandex Bot, and Baidu Spider.
- Trading bots: These are automated trading systems that automatically execute trades when specific trading conditions have been met. Trading bots use information such as current prices and volatility to execute trades. They simplify investing and crypto trading. It is said that algorithmic trading bots account for 70-80% of the crypto trading volume. An example of this is the Python Trading Bot.
- Marketing bots: These bots are programmed to function in any part of the marketing process. Chatbots are a popular type of marketing bot. They are designed to converse with clients and perform customer service functions, including providing product information and updating order information. Other marketing bots crawl websites for keywords, traffic, and backlinks.
- Site monitoring bots: As their name suggests, these bots monitor a website’s performance and detect website downtime.
Like the good bots, these bots are named based on the malicious activity that they carry out.
- DDoS Bots: These bots carry out DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. These attacks involve using a botnet—an array of online devices—to overburden a website with fake traffic and make it unavailable to legitimate users.
- Scraper Bots: These bots “scrape” vital information on a website, such as prices and product descriptions, and use them without permission. This can have far-reaching implications for a business. An example of this would be Instagram scraping bot.
- Spam Bots: These bots can share malware, overwhelm a website or social media platform with unnecessary comments, and advertise fake products.
- Credential Stuffing Bots: Cybercriminals use these bots to test different leaked credentials (usernames and passwords) in order to breach a system. They are implicated in credit card fraud and other bank fraud.
How do Bots Work?
There are three parts of a bot: (1) the workflow logic, (2) the database, and (3) the API. The workflow logic defines the bot’s function. The database provides available data for the bot to perform its function. The API (Application Programming Interface) enables the bot to access the functionalities of other applications even if such functionalities aren’t within its workflow logic.
Depending on how the code is written, a bot can be rule-based or self-learning. Rule-based bots execute functions only within their workflow logic. Self-learning bots, on the other hand, are programmed to learn new functions outside their workflow logic.
But whether a bot is rule-based or self-learning depends on its algorithms and scripts. Scripts and algorithms, in turn, depend on the programming language.
Programming Languages for Bot Coding
Considerations Before Choosing a Language
Before choosing a programming language for your bot, there are certain considerations you need to make.
- You need to decide the function of the bot and whether it would be rule-based or self-learning.
- If you’re going for the latter, then your considered language should have diverse functions that the bot could use to improve its functionalities.
- Also, consider the language performance of the language and if it would be easy to write your code with it.
- You need to consider your budget. The cost of a programming language often depends on its licensing terms.
Some Programming Languages
Java is an easy-to-use language. Easy to write. Easy to compile. Easy to debug. Being platform-independent, it can be used across different platforms. But it isn’t without its disadvantages. It is slow, unattractive, and requires a lot of memory space. Several Telegram and Discord bots have been written in Java.
This programming language is far easier than Java. Its syntax is easy to understand. You would use fewer lines to code to create the same bot that would execute the same function as a bot written in Java or C++. Since it is open-sourced, you can use and distribute it for free. However, a downside to Python is its speed and design limitations. Limbo is a Slack chatbot written in Python.
Lisp is a simple yet dynamic language. It is the common language for artificial intelligence. So if you are looking to build a self-learning bot, you may want to consider this language. Despite its simplicity, it has poor syntax and readability.
Ruby is an open-source language that is free to use, debug and distribute. Similar to Python, it has an easy syntax, which makes it an ideal choice for beginners to create their bots. You can write bots for Telegram, Twitter, and Slack in Ruby. Despite its advantages, a major problem with Ruby is that it is difficult to debug.
Considered one of the easiest scripting languages, PHP is a simple language that is easy to learn. It is flexible, and efficient and allows for more user control. However, it is known to be an insecure language with a poor framework. You can write Telegram and Discord bots with this language.
Programming languages have their respective pros and cons. Choosing one for your bot would depend on what you hope to achieve. Whichever language you choose, three important factors should guide your choice. Firstly, your bot should be easy and cost-effective to design and maintain. Secondly, given that bots would be used to automate processes for a long time, they need to be efficient. Finally, they should be secure and unique enough so as not to be hijacked by fraudsters.