It wasn't that long ago that we described how we listen to music here in the office. Well, we've changed it up all over again, taking us back to rdio in a big way, even if it's completely stripped of its own interface. Instead, we've got a tool we're building ourselves controlling the tunes, in the form of rdio chatbot Wolfman. It's a tool that's built specifically for the way we work, so it's not just a tool, it's a peek into how we get things done.

We used to have the Infinite Jukebox (our main music station) set up against the far wall of our office. This was convenient for those sitting on that side of the room to see what was playing, but not so much for those on the other end. There was also the problem of music selection. Yes, anyone could either remotely control or walk over to the Infinite Jukebox, but that was a disruption to their workflow (another password to remember, another window to keep open). Moving the IJ helped to solve some of those problems, but Wolfman solves both of the remainder (for now anyway), spreading the burden of keeping the office awash in music to more of the staff (thankfully we universally have pretty decent taste).

Our devs spend all day with a window open in Hipchat. It's company-wide group chat, and people trade tips, ask questions and plan lunch without looking up from their screens. Wolfman is a chatbot that lives within that Hipchat room. All it takes to queue an album is to type "@wolfman find album [album name]." Wolfman then searches rdio for the album (or artist or song) and places them in the play queue. Simple play controls ("next") also keep things moving if you accidentally to a search that's a bit too broad (a little Zeppelin is great, but maybe you don't want to hear their entire discography in one sitting). We also built in support for Apple Remotes to allow for another method of controlling the music (pause, play, skip, or adjust the volume).

Wolfman is based on the Robut gem, which simplifies integration with Hipchat. Apple Remote integration is achieved via Remote Buddy. The other major piece is rdio, the service that we initially shunned in favor of Spotify. rdio's API makes apps like these much easier to build.

Wolfman is still a work in progress but we've been using it for weeks. If you want to use it for yourself you can grab the code from Github.