Skip to content

Sending activities

In ActivityPub, an actor can deliver an activity to another actor by sending an HTTP POST request to the recipient's inbox. Fedify provides an abstracted way to send activities to other actors' inboxes.

Prerequisite: actor key pairs

Before sending an activity to another actor, you need to have the sender's key pairs. The key pairs are used to sign the activity so that the recipient can verify the sender's identity. The key pairs can be registered by calling ~ActorCallbackSetters.setKeyPairsDispatcher() method.

For more information about this topic, see Public keys of an Actor section in the Actor dispatcher section.

Sending an activity

To send an activity to another actor, you can use the Context.sendActivity() method. The following shows how to send a Follow activity to another actor:

typescript
import { Context, Follow, Recipient } from "@fedify/fedify";

async function sendFollow(
  ctx: Context<void>,
  senderHandle: string,
  recipient: Recipient,
) {
  await ctx.sendActivity(
    { handle: senderHandle },
    recipient,
    new Follow({
      actor: ctx.getActorUri(senderHandle),
      object: recipient.id,
    }),
  );
}

TIP

Wonder where you can acquire a Context object? See the Where to get a Context object section in the Context section.

Enqueuing an outgoing activity

The delivery failure can happen for various reasons, such as network failure, recipient server failure, and so on. For reliable delivery, Fedify enqueues an outgoing activity to the queue instead of immediately sending it to the recipient's inbox if possible; the system retries the delivery on failure.

This queueing mechanism is enabled only if Federation object has a queue:

typescript
import { createFederation, InProcessMessageQueue } from "@fedify/fedify";

const federation = createFederation({
  // Omitted for brevity; see the related section for details.
  queue: new InProcessMessageQueue(),  
});

NOTE

The InProcessMessageQueue is a simple in-memory message queue that is suitable for development and testing. For production use, you should consider using a more robust message queue, such as DenoKvMessageQueue.

If the queue is not set, the ~Context.sendActivity() method immediately sends the activity to the recipient's inbox. If the delivery fails, it throws an error and does not retry the delivery.

Immediately sending an activity

Sometimes you may want to send an activity immediately without queueing it. You can do this by calling the ~Context.sendActivity() method with the immediate option:

typescript
import { Context, Follow, Recipient } from "@fedify/fedify";

async function sendFollow(
  ctx: Context<void>,
  senderHandle: string,
  recipient: Recipient,
) {
  await ctx.sendActivity(
    { handle: senderHandle },
    recipient,
    new Follow({
      actor: ctx.getActorUri(senderHandle),
      object: recipient.id,
    }),
    { immediate: true },  
  );
}

Shared inbox delivery

The shared inbox delivery is an efficient way to deliver an activity to multiple recipients belonging to the same server at once. It is useful for broadcasting activities, such as a public post.

By default, ~Context.sendActivity() method delivers an activity to the recipient's personal inbox. To deliver an activity to the shared inbox, you can pass the preferSharedInbox option:

typescript
import {
  Context,
  Create,
  Note,
  Recipient,
  PUBLIC_COLLECTION,
} from "@fedify/fedify";

async function sendNote(
  ctx: Context<void>,
  senderHandle: string,
  recipient: Recipient,
) {
  await ctx.sendActivity(
    { handle: senderHandle },
    recipient,
    new Create({
      actor: ctx.getActorUri(senderHandle),
      to: PUBLIC_COLLECTION,
      object: new Note({
        attribution: ctx.getActorUri(senderHandle),
        to: PUBLIC_COLLECTION,
      }),
    }),
    { preferSharedInbox: true },  
  );
}

TIP

PUBLIC_COLLECTION constant contains a URL object of https://www.w3.org/ns/activitystreams#Public, a special IRI that represents the public audience. By setting the to property to this IRI, the activity is visible to everyone. See also the Public Addressing section in the ActivityPub specification.

NOTE

To deliver an activity to the shared inbox, the recipient server must support the shared inbox delivery. Otherwise, Fedify silently falls back to the personal inbox delivery.

Followers collection synchronization

This API is available since Fedify 0.8.0.

NOTE

For efficiency, you should implement filtering-by-server of the followers collection, otherwise the synchronization may be slow.

If an activity needs to be delivered to only followers of the sender through the shared inbox, the server of the recipients has to be aware of the list of followers residing on the server. However, synchronizing the followers collection every time an activity is sent is inefficient. To solve this problem, Mastodon, etc., use a mechanism called followers collection synchronization.

The idea is to send a digest of the followers collection with the activity so that the recipient server can check if it needs to resynchronize the followers collection. Fedify provides a way to include the digest of the followers collection in the activity delivery request by specifying the recipients parameter of the ~Context.sendActivity() method as the "followers" string:

typescript
await ctx.sendActivity(
  { handle: senderHandle },
  "followers",  
  new Create({
    actor: ctx.getActorUri(senderHandle),
    to: ctx.getFollowersUri(senderHandle),
    object: new Note({
      attribution: ctx.getActorUri(senderHandle),
      to: ctx.getFollowersUri(senderHandle),
    }),
  }),
  { preferSharedInbox: true },  
);

If you specify the "followers" string as the recipients parameter, it automatically sends the activity to the sender's followers and includes the digest of the followers collection in the payload.

NOTE

The to and cc properties of an Activity and its object should be set to the followers collection IRI to ensure that the activity is visible to the followers. If you set the to and cc properties to the PUBLIC_COLLECTION, the activity is visible to everyone regardless of the recipients parameter.

Excluding same-server recipients

This API is available since Fedify 0.9.0.

In most cases, you will not want to deliver activities via ActivityPub to recipients on the same server with the sender. To exclude same-server recipients, you can pass the excludeBaseUris option to the ~Context.sendActivity() method:

typescript
await ctx.sendActivity(
  { handle: senderHandle },
  "followers",
  activity,
  { excludeBaseUris: [ctx.getInboxUri()] },  
);

Excluded recipients do not receive the activity, even if they are included in the recipients parameter.

NOTE

Only the origin parts of the specified URIs are compared with the inbox URLs of the recipients. Even if they have pathname or search parts, they are ignored when comparing the URIs.

Error handling

This API is available since Fedify 0.6.0.

Since an outgoing activity is not immediately processed, but enqueued to the queue, the ~Context.sendActivity() method does not throw an error even if the delivery fails. Instead, the delivery failure is reported to the queue and retried later.

If you want to handle the delivery failure, you can register an error handler to the queue:

typescript
import { createFederation, InProcessMessageQueue } from "@fedify/fedify";

const federation = createFederation({
  // Omitted for brevity; see the related section for details.
  queue: new InProcessMessageQueue(),
  onOutboxError: (error, activity) => {
    console.error("Failed to deliver an activity:", error);
    console.error("Activity:", activity);
  },
});

NOTE

The onOutboxError callback can be called multiple times for the same activity, because the delivery is retried according to the backoff schedule until it succeeds or reaches the maximum retry count.

HTTP Signatures

HTTP Signatures is a de facto standard for signing ActivityPub activities. It is widely used in the fediverse to verify the sender's identity and the integrity of the activity.

Fedify automatically signs activities with the sender's private key if the actor keys dispatcher is set and the actor has any RSA-PKCS#1-v1.5 key pair. If there are multiple key pairs, Fedify selects the first RSA-PKCS#1-v1.5 key pair among them.

Object Integrity Proofs

This API is available since Fedify 0.10.0.

Object Integrity Proofs is a mechanism to ensure the integrity of ActivityPub objects (not only activities!) in the fediverse. It shares the similar concept with HTTP Signatures, but it has more functionalities and is more flexible. For example, it can be used for forwarding from inbox and several other cases that HTTP Signatures cannot handle. However, as it is relatively new, it is not widely supported yet.

Fedify automatically includes the integrity proof of activities by signing them with the sender's private key if the actor keys dispatcher is set and the actor has any Ed25519 key pair. If there are multiple key pairs, Fedify creates the number of integrity proofs equal to the number of Ed25519 key pairs.

TIP

HTTPS Signatures and Object Integrity Proofs can coexist in an application. If an activity is signed with HTTP Signatures and Object Integrity Proofs, the recipient verifies the Object Integrity Proofs first when it is supported, and ignores the HTTP Signatures if the Object Integrity Proofs are valid. If the recipient does not support Object Integrity Proofs, it falls back to verifying the HTTP Signatures.

To support both HTTP Signatures and Object Integrity Proofs, you need to generate both RSA-PKCS#1-v1.5 and Ed25519 key pairs for each actor, and store them in the database.