2.0.0 • Public • Published


    Digital Identity Intro

    Jump down the rabbit hole.


    See some existing bots

    The pieces of the puzzle

    Users of the Tradle app converse with providers. The brains behind each provider is a bot.

    The Tradle server takes care of:

    • secure line to your users
    • creation/monitoring of blockchain transactions
    • calling your bot's web server with messages from the user (and blockchain-related events)

    The Tradle app takes care of:

    • cross-platform support (iOS & Android). iOS is currently more mature.
    • cross-browser support (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE11). Chrome currently has the best support.
    • offline support, a must on mobiles, but very hard to develop. You have it here out of the box.
    • UI. You can customize it with per-provider styles on the server-side. In the near future you will be able to add your own JS code that will be executed in the app.

    This framework supports:

    • asynchronous messaging
    • reliable persistent-queue-based send/receive on both the server and the bot ends (the basis for offline support)
    • easy to get started. We provide set of sample bots, which we call "strategies"

    Your bot, the Tradle server, and the clients

    communication diagram

    The Tradle server acts like a router between your bot and your clients, on their Tradle apps. Your bot will represent a single provider, as different providers typically require different functionality. Being able to set up multiple service providers on one Tradle server makes it easier to test and do demos.

    From the client's perspective (see the Tradle app screenshot below), providers are listed together in the Conversations screen.

    In the guide that follows, you'll set up a service provider called Silly, and connect your bot to it.

    providers in Tradle app

    Talk to some sample bots

    At https://bots.tradle.io there's a Tradle web app set up with a bunch of test bots, some of which are built with this framework (Inviter and Age Verification). Register, click the chats icon in the Profile page footer and chat with bots.

    1. Conversation Screen 2. Chatting with the Inviter bot
    talking to "Inviter"


    How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your prerequisites?


    These instructions have been tested on the following platforms:

    • macOS Sierra
    • Windows 10 Home Edition

    If you run into problems setting up, submit an issue!


    You will be using a dockerized Tradle server, and building your bots with Node.js

    • Docker. On Windows 10 Home Edition you will need to install Docker Toolbox instead of Docker. Follow the Docker link, find Windows installation page and search for Toolbox.
    • Docker Compose
    • Node.js 6 or later

    OSX Users

    1. Docker used to run via boot2docker, but now has the much better Docker for Mac. Install it.
    2. Remove environment variables in your ~/.bash_profile that start with DOCKER_. These are boot2docker's legacy.
    3. Open a fresh shell. Mm, you smell that? Me neither. boot2docker will plague us no more.

    Run docker, login

    1. Create an account on Docker Hub if you haven't already
    2. Make sure Docker is running. To make sure you made sure, run docker info and count off two microseconds. If it doesn't spit out some awesome stats, docker is probably not running.
    3. Run docker login in your shell, and login with your Docker Hub credentials


    Clone this repository

    git clone https://github.com/tradle/bots tradle-bots
    cd tradle-bots

    Install dependencies

    This project uses yarn package manager, which is like npm, but faster, leaner, and more emoji-infused. You had as at "emoji", yarn!

    To install it, smirk ironically, and run:

    npm i -g yarn
    # if that doesn't work: sudo npm i -g yarn 

    Then install dependencies:

    yarn --ignore-optional

    Run Tradle server

    This uses the Docker Compose file tradle-server-compose.yml, at the root of your tradle-bots folder:

    On OSX, to enable connecting from the container to the host, run:

    # https://docs.docker.com/docker-for-mac/networking/#/known-limitations-use-cases-and-workarounds 
    #   see: "I want to connect from a container to a service on the host" 
    sudo ifconfig lo0 alias

    Start the server!

    # switch to your tradle-bots directory 
    # start up dockerized tradle server and web app 
    yarn run server
    # check things are running: 
    docker ps
    # ... NAMES 
    # ... tradle-web-app 
    # ... tradle-server 

    Create a provider

    Let's create a provider called Silly, with handle silly (url path: /silly)

    # attach to the tradle-server container 
    # or: `yarn run attach` 
    docker attach tradle-server
    # ( you may need to hit Enter an extra time to show the prompt ) 
    # you are now in the tradle server's command line client 
    # let's create a provider 
    tradle-server$ newprovider silly Silly
    # Generating a really good provider: silly  
    # This may take a few seconds... 
    # Enter a local path or a url of the provider logo: 
    # subscribe your bot's web server for webhooks 
    # OSX: see the previous section for the explanation for the IP address value 
    tradle-server$ newwebhook silly
    # Windows: use Docker's NAT address ( to configure webhook: 
    tradle-server$ newwebhook silly 
    # start things up 
    tradle-server$ restartproviders

    Your Tradle server is now running at http://localhost:44444, and silly provider is running at http://localhost:44444/silly

    Note: when attached to a Docker container, if you hit Ctrl+C, you will kill it. Docker Compose will automatically restart it (see the restart: always flag in tradle-server-compose.yml), but to be nice, detach with Ctrl+P Ctrl+Q

    Connect your Tradle app


    1. Make sure docker ps shows tradle-web-app running
    2. Open http://localhost:55555 in Google Chrome. Firefox, Safari and IE11 are almost there.


    1. Make sure your phone is on the same network as the computer running your Tradle server.
    2. Get your computer's local ip.
    3. In your Tradle app, on the Conversations screen, click the red button, and choose Add Server URL. Enter the address of your Tradle server: http://{your_local_ip}:44444

    Configuring your bot

    No silly provider is complete without a silly strategy. Below is the annotated default config file, which can be found at ./sample-conf.json. It runs the strategy in ./lib/strategy/silly.js. Once you outgrow the silly strategy (it took me years), and you've sampled the others in ./lib/strategy, feel free to create your own. To use a particular config file, run yarn start as follows:

    # nerds: 
    #   the extra '--' after yarn start is to help yarn distinguish its own arguments 
    #   from arguments to the underlying script (./cmd.js) 
    #   it is equivalent to: DEBUG=tradle:* ./cmd.js --conf ./path/to/your/config.json 
    yarn start -- --conf ./path/to/your/config.json
      // the port on which your bot will run its web server
      // when you register your webhooks on the Tradle server, specify this port
      "port": 8000,
      // the console prompt, in this case a red hot chili pepper icon
      "repl": "\uD83C\uDF36  ",
      // the url of the provider your bot controls on the Tradle server
      // url format: http://localhost:44444/{providerHandle}
      "providerURL": "http://localhost:44444/silly",
      // the directory in which your bot will store its databases
      // and any temporary files
      "dir": "./storage/silly",
      // strategies your bot will use when it starts
      "strategies": [

    Note: If running multiple bots simultaneously, be sure to use a different port and a different dir for each.


    The easiest way to get started is by playing in the Javascript console. Make sure your Tradle server us up and running.

    The console can be started by running yarn start. Below is a sample session. Below that, see an outline of the objects and functions available in the global scope.

    Sample Session

    # switch to your tradle-bots directory 
    # yarn start runs ./cmd.js with lots of logging. See "scripts" in package.json 
    $ yarn start -- --conf ./conf/silly.json
    # Listening on port 8000 
    # before anything test the connection to your provider: 
    testing connection to provider...
    all good!
    # list stored users 
    # TIP: assign to variable with: users = yield bot.users.list() 
    # no users yet 
    # list our strategies 
    # we're using the silly strategy (see './lib/strategy/silly.js') 
    # depending on your config (sample-conf.json), you may be using a different one 
    [ [Function: sillyStrategy] ]
    # screw that for now, we want to talk to our users manually 
    # print to console all received message 
    # go to your Tradle app and say something to the provider your bot's hooked up to 
    # ..yay, we got a message 
    #  a7d454a8ec9a1bd375f9dd16afdadff9ed8765a03016f6abf7dd10df0f7c8fbe { 
    #  "_s": "CkkKBHAyNTYSQQQkBY3Zz1lTCpyGK4aQzW8mzp8cz7KuvP0U9Km8vddXuL8PFnHpeFN60seFpmvGTAmy0hpA4hg/zQVsYXc2h8kIEkcwRQIgdQy4DkLs3AcYZ+LsbZvEyGNbuLzuyNHri1kWuvN3Su8CIQC6TwkhBqyJn+QG5gUFFFmnxZS+iI0OJ2yQIB4I2dGhbA==", 
    #  "_t": "tradle.CustomerWaiting", 
    #  "_z": "ac1c730a4b803b9cb9ca88c6ed0ddadce06d89e5f881f4c91f76e64050728a4c", 
    #  "message": "Ove has entered the chat", 
    #  "time": 1486070892140 
    # list stored users 
    # ok, this is that person that was messaging us earlier 
    # { a7d454a8ec9a1bd375f9dd16afdadff9ed8765a03016f6abf7dd10df0f7c8fbe:  
    #   { id: 'a7d454a8ec9a1bd375f9dd16afdadff9ed8765a03016f6abf7dd10df0f7c8fbe', 
    #     history: [ [Object], [Object], [Object], [Object], [Object], [Object] ], 
    #     profile: { firstName: 'Ove' } } } 
    # ok, this is the guy who was messaging us earlier 
    # let's say hi (make sure to replace a7d4... with the 'id' that bot.users.list() printed out) 
    bot.send({ userId: 'a7d454a8ec9a1bd375f9dd16afdadff9ed8765a03016f6abf7dd10df0f7c8fbe', object: 'hey Ove!' })
    # ok, good chat, let's turn the Silly strategy back on.  
    # Silly will send a message to the app, and you can chat with Silly,  
    # but do not expect any serious stuff, be silly yourself 
    # if you build your own strategy, you simply use require(..): 
    #   bot.strategies.use(require('./path/to/my/strategy')) 
    # or add the path to your own conf file's "strategies" field 

    Console globals

    as you can see in the session above, the console exposes a bunch of objects and functions in the global scope:

    - health                      [Function]    test the connection to your provider
    - togglePrintReceived         [Function]    toggle the printing to console of received messages
    - bot                         [Object]
      - bot.strategies            [Object]
        - bot.strategies.list     [Function]    list enabled strategies
        - bot.strategies.use      [Function]    enable a strategy
        - bot.strategies.disable  [Function]    disable a strategy
        - bot.strategies.clear    [Function]    disable all strategies
      - bot.users                 [Object]
        - bot.users.list          [Function]    list users
        - bot.users.get           [Function]    get a user's state by id
        - bot.users.del           [Function]    delete a user
        - bot.users.clear         [Function]    delete all users
        - bot.users.new           [Function]    create a new user (you probably don't need this)
      - bot.seals                 [Object]
        - bot.seals.list          [Function]    list seals
        - bot.seals.get           [Function]    get a seal by an object link
        - bot.seals.queued        [Function]    get queued seals
      - bot.queued                [Object]
        - bot.queued.seals        [Function]    list queued seals (same as bot.seals.queued())
        - bot.queued.send         [Function]    list queued sends
        - bot.queued.receive      [Function]    list queued receives
      - bot.send                  [Function]    send a message to a user


    Yadda yadda, the examples were fun, now how do I build my own bot?

    Implementing a basic strategy for a bot is easy. See ./lib/strategy for examples. Below is the echo strategy, which echoes everything any given user says back to them (and boy, do users love it).

    // ./lib/strategy/echo.js
    const { co } = require('bluebird').coroutine
    module.exports = function echoStrategy (bot) {
      return bot.addReceiveHandler(co(function* ({ user, object, link /*, other goodies*/ }) {
        // we received `object`
        // send it back
        yield bot.send({ userId: user.id, object })

    If your Promises are a bit rusty, or if you're asking yourself "what's co?" or "isn't yield only for generators?", skim this

    ./lib/strategy/silly.js is a slightly more complex strategy, and tradle/bot-products is an expert-system type strategy that is a pared down version of the Tradle server's in-house bot's strategy.

    Receiving messages

    To handle incoming messages from users, add a receive handler as follows:

    function myStrategy (bot) {
      bot.addReceiveHandler(function ({ user, object, link /*, other goodies*/ }) {
        // return a Promise to ensure receive order
      // tip: wrap in `co` to make your async javascript saner:
      // const co = require('bluebird').coroutine
      // bot.addReceiveHandler(co(function* ({ user, object /*, other goodies*/ }) {
      //   yield promiseSomething()
      //   yield promiseSomethingElse()
      // }))

    Sending messages

    To send a message to a user, use bot.send({ userId, object }):

    function myStrategy (bot) {
      // const news = ...
      // ...
      news.on('raining men', function () {
        // bot.send(...) returns a Promise. Sensing a theme?
          userId: String, 
          object: {
            _t: 'tradle.SimpleMessage'
            message: 'wear a helmet'
          // equivalent shorthand for sending simple messages:
          // object: 'wear a helmet'
      // ...

    Creating blockchain seals

    Objects sent to a user, or received from a user can be sealed on blockchain as follows. To seal an object, you need to know its link, which

    function echoAndSealStrategy (bot) {
      return bot.addReceiveHandler(co(function* ({ user, object, link /*, other goodies*/ }) {
        yield bot.send({ userId: user.id, object })
        bot.seal({ link })


    the bot.users object emits the following events:

    • 'create': a new user state object has been created
    • 'delete': a user state object has been deleted
    • 'clear': all user state has been deleted
    • 'update': a user state object has changed

    the bot.seals object emits the following events:

    • 'push': a request to seal an object has been pushed to the Tradle server
    • 'wrote': the Tradle server has written a seal to the blockchain
    • 'read': the Tradle server has read a seal for an object from the blockchain

    the bot object emits the following events:

    • 'message': when a message has been handled by all enabled strategies without error
    • 'sent': when a message has been sent to the Tradle server for deliver to the client
    • 'seal:push', 'seal:wrote', 'seal:read': re-emitted for convenience from bot.seals
    • 'user:create', 'user:delete', 'user:clear', 'user:update': re-emitted for convenience from bot.users

    Managing users

    bot.users is the user manager object, which you can explore in the console. If you like mostly empty JSON objects, you're going to love this one.

    Each user has a single state object, which is accessible with bot.users.get(userId)

    Users are automatically registered with a default state object when the first message from them is received:

      "id": "..userId..", 
      "history": [] 

    When you bot.send(...) or when your bot receives messages, they get appended to state.history. You can store whatever your evil bot needs on the user state object, just don't forget to bot.users.save(userState) lest the evil be thwarted.


    How can you have any pudding...wait, we already did that one



    Validate your models. To be renamed to @tradle/validate-model once it has enough deps to break things.

    Objects / Resources


    Validate objects against their corresponding models.

    Model Builder (still raw)


    Build a model in code.

    Known Limitations

    • database: for simplicity and ease of getting started, the bot framework uses lowdb for its databases. Yes, it's not a production-level database, it writes synchronously to the file-system, etc. Feel free to substitute it with your personal preference once you're past the prototype phase (e.g. the Tradle server uses LevelDB).

    • user state object: currently holds the user's messaging history. It would be good to have the history separate as an append-only feed, and only dig it up when needed (instead of on every change to the user object)


    Pull requests are welcome. If you build a strategy that you would like to share or show off, submit a pull request to add it to this README.

    The master branch has stable if outdated code. The dev branch has the latest developments, so pull requests are best submitted there.




    npm i @tradle/bots

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