Functionality and special features of a Telegram bot

The Telegram messenger stands out, compared to competing services such as WhatsApp and Co, especially because of its special function of bots and channels. Freely available application programming interfaces (APIs) make life easier if you want to collect data or automate things. Thus, a Telegram bot is a good way to deliver information from almost every conceivable area whenever you need it. It is precisely this special functionality that we would like to address in the following article.

Telegram communication

1. What is Telegram?

Telegram is an online messaging app that, at its core, works like the popular messaging apps WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

This means that you can use Telegram to send messages to your contacts when connected to Wi-Fi or mobile internet access. Telegram is cloud-based and prioritises security and speed. As a result, the messenger has become a popular alternative to other messaging apps. The service started in 2013, and has now reached over 500 million active monthly users.

1.1 What are the special features?

Telegram combines the speed of WhatsApp with Snapchat’s ephemerality. Like WhatsApp, Telegram has the ability to show the status of a communication partner online and transmit texts, photos, videos, audio files, location information, contacts and documents. But there is also the option of providing this information with a time expiry date and thus having it deleted automatically.

Another special feature of Telegram is its security. All activities, including chats, groups and media shared by participants, are encrypted. This means that they are not visible without first being deciphered. Telegram also offers end-to-end encryption between chat partners with the “secret chats” feature.

1.2 Where does the messenger come from?

The company “Telegram Messenger” and the app were launched in 2013 by brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov in Russia and later moved abroad. Previously, both founded the Russian social network VK, but abandoned it in 2014 because it had been taken over by allies of President Putin. Pavel Durov sold his remaining stake in VK and left Russia after resisting government pressure. It is stated that the aim of the venture is not to make a profit, but it is not currently structured as a non-profit organisation.

1.3 What is the background?

Telegram is a free app without advertising that will be financed by donations in the future. The service is available for all common platforms and competes with other mobile instant messengers, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Telegram’s app downloads are well ahead of competitors Signal and Wickr, but still well behind WhatsApp and Facebook.

In January 2021, it was announced that Telegram has 500 million monthly active users who send tens of billions of messages every day. The programming code of the Telegram clients is mostly freely available. An open programming interface (API) is offered for the server.

2. Basic functions of a Telegram bot

2.1 What does the Telegram Bot do?

A Telegram Bot is a programme that behaves like a normal chat partner with additional functions. It performs predefined tasks independently and without the user’s involvement. The term bot is derived from the term for robot.

2.2 What does the messenger send?

A Telegram bot can basically do everything a human chat partner does. Automatically or on request, it can send you the following information:

  • Text messages
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Files of any other kind

2.3 What makes it special?

An important function of a Telegram bot is the possibility to execute commands in a Telegram chat, which then directly trigger actions or request information. For example, it is possible to send the bot the command “/help” or “/help”, which then outputs the commands possible for this bot in the chat as text feedback. This could be the following command list:

  • /status
  • /temperature
  • /last alarm
  • /stop

functions of the Telegram Bots

2.4 Where does the Messenger live?

Telegram stores all data, i.e. all chats and also the bots, encrypted in the cloud. An external backup of the Telegram data is therefore not absolutely necessary and the entire personal settings are available to the logged-in users across platforms at any time and everywhere. However, the sensitive data and commands that the bot then accesses externally can be available outside the cloud, e.g. on local company-owned servers in their own databases.

2.5 Who can use the functionality?

Normal Telegram bots are not private. Anyone can find and use them. However, Telegram bots can also only be made accessible to certain users if a separate communication channel with the bot is set up. This channel is a “private” group with the bot, to which only you, users approved by you and the actual bot belong. In this way, the Telegram Bot can only be used by the user group controlled by you.

2.6 What is the name of a Telegram Bot?

A Telegram bot can always be clearly identified by the suffix “bot”. For example, “@weatherbot”, “@ARD_tagesschau_Bot” or “@mein_erster_test_bot”.

2.7 Can it become a personal assistant?

Many of us admire the Internet of Things (IoT) and this is where a Telegram Bot comes in. It can, in environments defined by you, comfortably inform and react. Telegram can not only enable communication between people, but with a Telegram Bot, it can also enable communication between people and programmable machines. We can thus forward messages to multiple devices with one click or receive them from you.

2.8 How do you find Telegram bots?

Public bots can be found either via the Telegram user search function (e.g. you can enter “tagesschau” in the search to find the Tagesschau-Telegram bot) or in third-party catalogues or overviews on the internet (e.g. https://telegramchannels.me/ or https://telegramic.org/bots/). For private bots, they must be “invited” to a private group by the administrator of the Telegram bot.

How you can find the bot?

2.9 How do you talk to him?

Conversation with a Telegram Bot takes place via the text commands defined during creation or programming, which always begin with “/”. These can be commands like e.g.

  • /start
  • /end alarm
  • /status
  • /last error

The command “/help” always gives an overview of the possible commands.

3. How secure is a Telegram Bot?

3.1 Where is the bot running?

If one considers the Telegram Bot in the context of the data source, the actual data usually remains on the local servers of the data source. The bot accesses the required data sets there and then prepares them for message output as requested on the end device. As listed in 2.4, only the actual programme structure is permanently located in the cloud on the Telegram servers.

3.2 How high is the application security?

The actual Telegram bot application with the relevant data is stored on its own computers and databases. Here, the application security depends on the administrator of the local PC environment on site. The Telegram Bot only delivers the message outputs defined in the application to the respective end devices. Only these message outputs are then located in the Telegram Cloud.

3.3 How is the Telegram data encrypted?

All messages and thus also the communication with a bot are secured via client-server/server-client encryption. In the Telegram Cloud, this data is also divided among a number of servers and stored there in encrypted form.

4. Can I create a Telegram Bot myself?

4.1 How can i create an account?

To create a Telegram Bot yourself, all you have to do is install the Telegram app on a device and log in there to create your personal account. You can find the Telegram app for mobile devices in the app stores (e.g. Google Play Store or Apple App Store) and for other devices e.g. on the official Telegram website https://telegram.org/.

4.2 How can I create the bot?

The actual creation of your own bot is generally very simple. You are supported by the virtual user “Botfather”, which is the central development tool for Telegram bots. So you first have to search for this user on Telegram and start a chat with him. Make sure that you select the verified (with a blue tick) user.

How can I create the bot?

4.2.1 What is the Botfather?

The Botfather (the name is an allusion to the Mafia epic “The Godfather” – based on the novel by Mario Puzo and successfully filmed in three parts with Marlon Brando as “The Godfather” from 1972) is basically a Telegram Bot and responds to commands. It helps with the creation of one’s own bot, organises unique bot names, for example, and assigns access authorisations for programming.

4.2.2 How do I set up my bot? (A quick guide)

Start by entering the command “/newbot” as a text message in the chat with the botfather. Now you have to give your bot a name such as “My first bot for testing”. The user name of the bot is then requested. This must end in “bot”. In our case, for example, “my_first_test_bot”. Now the botfather should congratulate you on setting up the new bot and tell you the address and the personal “token”. This is, so to speak, the password for complete control of the bot. The basic setup of the Telegram bot is now complete. Now the bot only needs to be filled with functionality or programmed.

4.3 How does the programming work?

4.3.1 What programming languages are available for bot programming?

In principle, all programming languages that run on a server and can respond to requests via HTTPS can be used. Here is a selection of popular programming languages that are often used for web and app development:

  • JavaScript (node.js)
  • Java / Kotlin
  • PHP
  • C#
  • Python
  • Swift
  • Ruby

When choosing a programming language for bot development, different points come into play: How “well” do they or their team know the respective programming language? Which programming tools are available or which libraries can be accessed?

4.3.2 What does the OPC Router option offer?

With the OPC Router communication platform, a Telegram Bot can be created with just a few clicks without complex programming. With the OPC Router Telegram Bot Plug-in, the bot is realised through simple graphical configuration. Messages from other Plug-ins (SAP, OPC, MQTT, etc.) can be easily sent to the bot and are then sent to the registered chat users. The creation of commands is possible via the simple creation of triggers in an OPC Router project. In this way, you can create a Telegram Bot for your own system in just a few minutes.

Was bietet die Option OPC Router?

You can find a programming video on our Telegram Plug-in page.

4.4 What costs will I incur?

The use of a Telegram bot, like the use of Telegram itself, is free of charge. Only the possible costs for the acquisition of programming languages, tools or interfaces to machines to be connected must of course be taken into account for a self-development.

5. Examples of applications in industry

5.1 How can you use a Telegram bot for resource control?

In the injection moulding industry, for example, a Telegram bot can send an automated message to a smartphone when the level of plastic granulate required for the production of injection moulded products falls below a certain level. In this way, it is possible to react ahead of time with a reorder or additional delivery and there is no downtime due to a shortage of material.

5.2 What machine information can be transmitted?

Relevant machine data such as temperature or pressure information can be sent regularly via Telegram Bot to the tablets, smartphones or PC workstations of the department managers. In this way, a complete overview of machine production is possible for this user group at any time.

5.3 How can I use the functionality for fault messages or alarms?

Effective fault or alarm reporting systems with smartphone connection can be configured via bot. For this purpose, fault messages that are managed, generated and stored in an SQL database, for example, are sent to the logged-in Telegram clients via the bot. The OPC Router can also offer commands to the clients so that fault message acknowledgements and comment functions can be designed. With the Telegram Plug-ins access to the SQL data, the Telegram user can also be offered queries, for example to access detailed data on fault messages.

5.4 What maintenance information can a Telegram bot send me?

If the functionality of production machines reaches certain predefined threshold values, a Telegram bot could automatically generate maintenance recommendations and send them to the respective machine operators. In this way, maintenance-related failures can be avoided and downtimes can be effectively planned in advance.

Summary

A Telegram bot is a useful addition to smart communication, especially in professional areas. Compared to the most popular messaging services, Telegram offers additional advantages in the exchange of information with the special queries and actions of a bot listed in our article. However, like all programming, Telegram usually requires concrete programming knowledge for extensive use. Particularly for use in industry and machine connection, the OPC Router is a recommendable tool that extremely simplifies precisely this complex programming.

Further information

Telegram Bot Plug-in

With the Telegram Bot connection, the OPC Router enables the Telegram messenger to be linked to the industrial process. Users of the bot can receive alerts, production messages, operating states, but also initiate actions via the Telegram bot.

SMS WhatsApp sending via Twilio

With the OPC Router and the Twilio service, events from the automation world can be sent easily and application-specific. In our instructions, we show how individual notifications and alarms from the automation level can be sent to mobile users via SMS and as WhatsApp messages in just a few steps with the OPC Router.

MS Teams Rest connection

Chat messages, such as alerts and status messages, can be sent directly to Teams using the OPC Router’s REST Plug-in and to the Teams app for mobile devices. In a step-by-step guide, we show how information can be transmitted, which then allows the recipient to jump to the right place in the production system or make acknowledgements.

Further interesting articles on the topics of Industry 4.0, cloud, technology, alerting and practical application examples as well as case studies can be found in our Knowledge Base.

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With the Telegram Plug-in you can communicate via the OPC Router and start active queries.

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