0.18.0 • Public • Published


A node.js library to assist with building best practice, configuration driven, Actions for the Google Assistant and webhooks for Dialogflow.

(This README is a work in progress, although it documents much of the platform, there are gaps. The intent is to have it completed by version 1.0.0.)

What is multivocal?

Multivocal is a library that tries to bring a new approach to helping you write webhooks for the Google Assistant, Dialogflow ES, and Dialogflow CX. (With hopes to expand to other bot and voice platforms in the future.)

Why multivocal?

We found that the traditional method of building a webhook suffered from several problems:

  • There was lots of boilerplate code required to get very simple things to work.
  • Best practices for handling no input, repeated bad input, welcoming users, prompting users, varying responses, and other conversational components add even more code.
  • All this additional code is beyond the actual logic we want to implement.
  • The text for responses were often mixed in with the business logic, making it difficult to add new language support or change the possible responses.

As we developed more and more Actions, we began to want a library that met a few goals:

  1. Reduce boilerplate as much as possible.
  2. Use sane defaults and make it easy to override those defaults.
  3. Our code should be focused on the results - not how to transmit those results.
  4. Responses to the user should be configuration driven, allowing us to easily add and modify responses that incorporate the results from our business logic.

That evolved into Multivocal.

When does it make sense to use multivocal?

We think it makes sense for any application you're writing for platforms such as

  • Dialogflow ES (Dialogflow 2) with
    • The Google Assistant (Actions on Google 2)
    • Google Chat (formerly Hangouts Chat)
  • Dialogflow CX (Dialogflow 3)
  • The Actions Builder and Actions SDK for the Google Assistant (Actions on Google 3)

We hope to expand the library so it makes sense to use for other platforms that use Dialogflow, for the Amazon Alexa, and for Samsung's Bixby.

Right now, it targets webhooks that run on the Firebase Cloud Functions platform, but it should work on any platform that uses Express-like handling or AWS Lambda.

For details and caveats about each platform, see the docs directory for platform-specific notes.

Who is behind multivocal?

Multivocal was started by Allen "Prisoner" Firstenberg, a Google Developer Expert and developer of several Actions for the Assistant.

But multivocal is open source - we would love to see your contributions!

Where can I get multivocal?

Source for multivocal is available at You can also find documentation there and at

There are sample projects (ranging from fairly sparse projects we use to test things out to more full-featured examples) and additional documentation linked from

You can report bugs and issues at the github project page.

How do I install and use multivocal?

You can install it using npm install --save multivocal.

As for using Multivocal... well... that takes up much of the rest of this document, as well as other documentation available from github or at

Hello World

Using multivocal to implement a basic fulfillment webhook for an Actions Builder based action built on Firebase Cloud Functions is straightforward with just a little boilerplate.

const Multivocal = require('multivocal');

new Multivocal.Config.Simple({
  Local: {
    und: {
      Response: {
        "Action.multivocal.welcome": [
            Template: {
              Text: "Hello world."
            ShouldClose: true

exports.webhook = Multivocal.processFirebaseWebhook;

We can roughly break this into three parts:

  1. Load the multivocal library.

  2. Build our configuration.

    We'll use a simple configuration object that takes the JSON for the configuration.

    We need to define the Action.multivocal.welcome response, and we'll define it for the undefined locale. This response says that for any incoming request that is for the Action with the name multivocal.welcome, format the Template with this text to use as our message. Furthermore, after we send this message, we should close the conversation.

    The multivocal.welcome Action is one that is provided by the standard Intents, and is called when the conversation begins.

    Building the configuration automatically adds it to Multivocal's configuration.

  3. Register the function to be called when a request comes in from Google and have multivocal process it.

    In this case, we're using the Firebase webhook processor to process from Firebase Cloud Functions, but there are also processors for Google Cloud Functions (which are slightly different), an Express function, or if you're using AWS Lambda. If you're using something else, you can build the environment yourself, call the processing, and send the JSON response.

A very similar configuration could be written for an Actions Builder project, and mostly be structured the same way. (The biggest difference is that handler names aren't allowed to have a dot in them.)


Naming Convention

Although there are some exceptions, multivocal reserves the following naming conventions as things that will be defined for the library. These names are found in the configuration object, in properties in objects, and in Dialogflow configuration. In order to maintain forward compatibility, you shouldn't use things named this way unless they've been documented:

  • Names starting with a Capital Letter (Response, Action, etc)
  • Names starting with one or more underscore, followed by a _Capital _Letter (_Builder, _Task, etc)
  • Names starting with "multivocal", in any case (multivocal_session, Multivocal_counter)


Simple Object configuration

Since most configuration is represented internally as JavaScript Object attributes, it makes sense to use a JavaScript Object as one form of configuration. You can add this configuration by creating a new Multivocal.Config.Simple object and passing in an Object with attributes.

var config = {
  Local: {
    und: {
      Response: {
        "Action.multivocal.welcome": [
            Template: {
              Text: "Hello world."
            ShouldClose: true
new Multivocal.Config.Simple( config );

Key/Value configuration

Configuration can also be loaded in from a set of key/value pairs (such as a property file or the process.env value that contains the OS environment parameters). This is a little more complicated than the Simple Object configuration in two ways:

  1. Keys may have separator characters to represent some hierarchy.

    You can specify a pathSeparator option and it will turn this into an actual hierarchy in the configuration. By default, no path separator is assumed.

  2. Values are expected to be strings, not objects.

    To parse values as JSON values, where possible, you can set the parseJson option. Things that aren't parsable as JSON are returned as-is as strings. This defaults to true.

  3. They may be loaded at a different point in the configuration hierarchy.

    Do this with the root option. By default, it is loaded directly under the Config setting in the environment.

For example, process.env is added to the configuration under Config/Process/Env using something like:

new Multivocal.Config.KeyValue( process.env, {root:'Process/Env'} );

Firebase realtime database configuration

Firebase represents its entire realtime database as a JSON tree, with some restrictions on the values of the keys. The Multivocal.Config.Firebase configuration can treat any path in a database as an object to be used for configuration. You can specify the path in the configuration, or use the default of multivocal. If you're using Firebase Cloud Functions, you don't need to provide the firebase settings for initialization, otherwise you will need to provide settings that include, at least, a URL and credentials.

The upside to using Firebase to store responses is that it is very easy to update the database (either manually or by uploading JSON) and the changes will be live immediately.

One catch is that Firebase doesn't allow some characters in the key value, so you need to replace them with other values in Firebase and the system will convert them. Conversions done are:

  • underscore _ converted to period .
  • vertical bar | converted to forward slash /

So the URL would be written as https:||example_com|

For many uses, this should be sufficient:

new Multivocal.Config.Firebase();

If you need to specify configuration, the name of the firebase app, and/or the path to use for configuration, you may need something more like this:

var firebase = {
  config: {
  name: undefined,            // Uses default Firebase app
  path: 'config/multivocal'   // Defaults to 'multivocal'
new Multivocal.Config.Firebase( firebase );

Cloud Firestore configuration

Firebase's Cloud Firestore database provides a way to store documents that contain attributes and values. Since these values can be object-like, a document maps very nicely to a JavaScript object. The Multivocal.Config.Firestore configuration treats a document (specified by a collection name and document name) as an object. It defaults to a collection name of config and a document name of multivocal. If you're using Firebase Cloud Functions, you don't need to provide the firebase settings for initialization, otherwise you will need to provide settings that include, at least, connection information and credentials.

The upside to using Firestore to store responses and configuration is that it is very easy to update the database (generally manually, or by using a program to upload JSON) and the changes will be live immediately.

Unlike the Firebase Realtime Database, Firestore allows for attribute names with periods.

For many uses, this should be sufficient:

new Multivocal.Config.Firestore()

If you need to specify configuration, the name of the firebase app, the collection, and/or the document, you may need something more like this:

var firestore = {
  config: {
  name: undefined,            // Uses default Firebase app
  collection: 'stuff',        // Uses 'config' by default
  document:   'mv'            // Uses 'multivocal' by default
new Multivocal.Config.Firestore( firestore );

Merged configuration

There is also a configuration which takes a list of other configuration objects and merges them, with latter configurations overriding earlier ones. This is a deep merge, so it can be used to change specific fields.

This is primarily used internally to get the configuration available when Multivocal is called.

Adding your own configuration source

If none of these suit your needs, you can create a class whose instances do get the configuration from whatever source you need. The only requirement is that it have a method get() which returns a Promise that resolves to an object with attributes. This object should be an instance that is different than one returned by any other call to get(). (In the event it is modified.)

You register the configuration instance by calling Multivocal.addConfig(). The built-in configuration classes do this for you as part of creating the instance, and you may wish to adopt this model as well.

Default and Standard configurations

Multivocal installs two configuration instances when it starts up.

The default configuration is available in the DefCon environment setting. It contains "last resort" values and default settings. You should not touch this environment setting - you can override everything in your own configurations.

The standard configuration is loaded as the first configuration and contains some basic phrases and tools. You typically don't want to eliminate it, but it is possible if needed.

(TODO: Point to more complete documentation elsewhere)

Pre-Processing and Preconditions

Environment settings built:

  • Preprocess

    • Fail

      True if preprocessing fails and further processing should halt, possibly returning something.

    • Msg

(TODO: Work in progress)

Dialogflow Ping

If the request matches a pattern determined by the Config/Setting/Precondition/DialogflowPing setting, set the Preprocess/Fail environment to true and send back a "pong" message.

Actions on Google Ping

If the request matches an expected value in a parameter determined by the Config/Setting/Precondition/GooglePing setting, set the Preprocess/Fail environment to true and send back a "Pong" message.

Actions on Google v3 JWT verification

This verifies the signed JWT sent by Google as part of each request against the JWTAuth/Google setting to verify the request comes from Google.

By default, this uses the project's Google Cloud or Firebase project id read from the system environment. If this is incorrect, you can update Config/Setting/JWTAuth/Google/aud to include your project ID (or a list of valid project IDs), since this is one of the fields that is verified.

To disable the check completely, you can set Config/Setting/Precondition/Verify/Rules/AoG3/Criteria to the string "false". But don't do that.

Other verifications

At least one verification must resolve to true. In order to guarantee this, you may want to institute other verification tests (for example, to check a header value against a constant). To do this, you can add a named rule under Config/Setting/Precondition/Verify/Rules that contains the following properties:

  • Criteria

    A string or array of strings that will be evaluated and then ANDed together. The results of these evaluations will be the results of the verification.

  • Processor

    Set to the string "SimpleProcessor".

For example, this rule would always resolve to true, and thus ensure verification would succeed. (This is unwise for production code.)

  "true": {
    "Criteria": [
    "Processor": "SimpleProcessor"

Processing, the Environment, and Paths

Platform detection

Environment builders

Environment settings built:

  • Platform

  • Hostname

  • Locale

  • Lang

  • Parameter

  • Context

  • User/State

  • Session/State

  • Session/Counter

  • Session/Consecutive

  • Session/StartTime

  • Option See "Lists, Options, and Cards"

  • MediaStatus

  • MediaProgress

  • Session/Feature

  • User/Feature

  • Intent

  • IntentName

  • Action

  • ActionName

  • Default

User authentication

Environment settings built (if appropriate):

  • User/Id

    An ID which is guaranteed to be unique between different platforms but maintain a 1:1 mapping with the native ID or the multivocal generated ID if appropriate.

    Actions on Google is deprecating their native ID, and plan to remove it on 1 Jun 2019. Multivocal will use this ID for now, and will switch to using a generated ID at some point before the cutoff date. After the cutoff date, the old ID will continue to be used for users that had initiated sessions before multivocal switches.

  • User/State/Id

    Contains the native or multivocal generated ID that was used to generate User/Id.

  • User/IsAuthenticated

    True if either of the following are true:

    • User/AccessToken has been set
    • User/IdentityToken has been set with a valid token
  • User/AccessToken

    If the platform provides an access token, it is available here. The access token is usually generated by your OAuth2 server and you should verify it before use. Typically, you will want to use it to get the user's profile, at a minimum. If you wish, you can store this profile in the User/Profile environment setting (see below).

  • User/IdentityToken

    If the platform provides an identity token (a signed JWT providing profile and other assertions), then this will be the raw and unverified token.

  • User/Profile

    If the platform provides an identity token, and multivocal is able to validate the token, then this contains the profile information contained in the token.

    If the platform does not provide an identity token, or you have other means to get a more complete profile, you may wish to use this environment path to store one. However, be aware that this may overwrite the profile that is set by multivocal. If you're concerned about this - use a different environment path.

Adding your own builder

Intents, Actions, and Outents

User actions are represented by two things: The Intent name and the Action name. Multivocal prefixes these with "Intent." and "Action." respectively and stores them in the environment values below.

In general, for most platforms, you should be planning on the "Action".

  • ActionName The action name provided from Dialogflow 1 or 2, the fulfillment key provided for Dialogflow 3, or the handler name provided from Actions Builder
  • Action The action name prefixed with "Action."
  • IntentName The intent name provided from Dialogflow or Actions Builder
  • Intent The Intent name prefixed with "Intent."
  • NodeName The scene name provided by the Actions Builder or the page name provided by Dialogflow 3.
  • Node The Node name prefixed with "Node."

Multivocal uses the Intent and Action to determine which handler should be called to do any additional processing and what should be sent in response. The Node value is not used to determine the handler or response.

Additionally, Multivocal defines the concept of an "Outent". You can set this environment setting in a handler to provide additional choices for responses which may be different than the default ones you provide for the intent or action. You do not need to prefix it with "Outent.", although you're allowed to do so. You're not required to set one at all, but if you do, it should be in the environment setting:

  • Outent

Handlers and responses, and how Multivocal determines which ones to use, are described in their own sections below.

Standard Dialogflow Intents/Actions

A standard set of intents, handlers, and responses are included with Multivocal which handle most of the boilerplate tasks that you need to consider. There are two parts to these standard components, one is included when you initialize Multivocal, but the other requires you to import a standard set of Intents into Dialogflow:

  1. The standard handlers and responses (including a base library for your own responses) are setup when Multivocal is first initialized. You can override these behaviors with your own handlers and responses, but you should keep in mind what they do by default.

  2. There is a zipfile in dialogflow/ which contains the corresponding Dialogflow Intent configurations. All the action settings start with "multivocal.". You should IMPORT this zip file into Dialogflow. If you're starting a new project, you can then delete the older welcome and fallback intents. You'll also need to make sure the timezone, language, fulfillment URL, and other settings are correct for your project.

Action: welcome and multivocal.welcome

Increments the User/State/NumVisits environment value.

Action: quit and multivocal.quit

Sets the Response/ShouldQuit environment setting to true after doing response processing.

Intent: input.none
Intent: input.unknown
Action: multivocal.unknown
Action: repeat and multivocal.repeat

Sets the Response/ShouldRepeat environment setting to true after doing response processing.

Action: multivocal.about

Uses values from the Config/Package environment setting to respond to questions about the version. Typically you'll set Config/Package to the contents of your package.json file.


Built-in handlers

Default handler

Adding your own handler and setting an Outent

Response, Suffix, Localization, and Templates

Multivocal has several steps to determine what should be sent as part of the Response and Suffix:

  1. A list of items containing Template parameters (or just strings) is fetched from the configuration based on various factors, including the Locale, Intent, Action, Outent, and Levels.

  2. Some processing is done on these templates, including loading some templates from elsewhere in the configuration, evaluating template settings that will apply for future templates in the list, and filtering out some possible results based on criteria that are set.

    If the template just consists of a string, it is at this point that it is converted into a Template object by creating an object with a Markdown attribute set to the value of the string.

    The processing does not include applying values to the template at this point.

  3. One of the templates is selected at random to be the Response.

  4. The Response-type object is evaluated as a template to apply other values in the environment, and other transformations are also done (for example, to handle Text or SSML attributes). The results of doing this are mapped to the environment based on other settings described below.

    For the Response configuration, the Template used will be in the Response environment setting and, once evaluated, will be in the Msg environment setting.

    For the Suffix configuration, the Template is saved in SuffixResponse and evaluated into Suffix.

Localization and the Path

All the Responses are contained under the Config/Local environment path, to emphasize that these are expected to be localized responses. You can store anything that you expect to be localized under this path as well (and there are some ways to automatically have these processed as well, as we'll see below).

Under this, there are a number of components to the path:

  • Locale, Lang, and then the undefined language "und"
  • The target (such as "response", but more details below)
  • The Outent, Intent, and Action values or "Default"
  • The OutentLevel, InetntLevel, and ActionLevel as appropriate


Debug response

Response settings:

  • Debug

    Typically an object (although just a string is allowed) that is evaluated as a template. The results are generally saved in the environment setting Debug/*target*, so if you're evaluating the Response configuration, the target is Msg so any debug information would be in Debug/Msg.

    When Debug is present, Debug/Index is also set with the response number.

Although you can specify Debug for each response (and sometimes you want to), there is a shortcut that if a response contains only a Debug attribute, then it will be used for all subsequent responses, similar to a Base response.

Base responses

Response settings:

  • Base/Ref

  • Base/Set

  • Base/Condition

Template and other transformations

The Response selected is transformed into a value after applying a series of functions, taking the results of one step and feeding it into the next:

  1. Each text string in the Template object is treated as a Handlebars template string, with the entire environment passed in and available to the templating engine. (See below about available template functions and some special environment settings available.)

  2. If the only attribute in the resultant value is named '_Value', then it's value becomes the result value.

  3. If there is a Markdown field, it is used to create a Text or Ssml field if that field isn't present by passing it to the Speech Markdown library. If a field is present, then it won't be overridden by Markdown.

  4. If there is a Text or Ssml field, but not the other, then one is converted into the other using some simple transformations (converting the &, <, and > representations).

Template functions

In addition to functions available from handlebars-helpers, multivocal provides several that are useful in your templates (and some that are really only useful for multivocal itself).


Template special environment settings

  • _This

  • _Result

FlexResponse configuration setting

Although Msg and Suffix are generated in the environment based on the Response and Suffix settings, the system can apply these concepts (and the steps outlined above) to create any environment values you wish. This is handled through a number of different configuration settings:

  • Setting/FlexResponse/Targets

    The list of targets to evaluate. This initially defaults to "Response", but you can add other targets to evaluate additional values. When doing so, "Response" should probably be last on this list.

  • Setting/FlexResponse/Path

    A series of paths that are evaluated both using the environment (to fill in values) and against the environment (once the path is determined - to get the value at that path). The first path that contains values will be used, even if all the values are later filtered out.

  • _Target

    While evaluating each target in Setting/FlexResponse/Targets, the specific name being evaluated. This probably isn't very useful, but it is a crucial component in the Path.

  • Setting/{{_Target}}/RawParameterName

    If you provide a string in the response instead of an object, multivocal will create a Template object with a single attribute with this name and a value of the string.

    By default, this is the value "_This", which means that the template (when ultimately evaluated) will attempt to map the resulting value to the target environment.

    The Response target, however, has this set to "Text", so an object containing a Text attribute will be set to the Msg environment

  • Setting/{{_Target}}/EnvField

    What environment setting will contain the Response.

    By default, this will be a name similar to targetResponse. For the Response setting, however, this is mapped to "Response".

  • Setting/{{_Target}}/TemplateResponseMap

    What parts of the Response object will be treated as a template, and what environment setting will hold the results. This is a map from the template name to the environment name. By default, this maps from "Template" to the name of the target, however for the Response object, this maps from "Template" to "Msg".


Not all platforms support sending all types of responses - see the platform specific documentation for details about what is supported or how some features may be represented in a platform-specific way.


Environment settings:

  • Msg/Markdown
  • Msg/Ssml
  • Msg/Text
  • Suffix/Markdown
  • Suffix/Ssml
  • Suffix/Text

Suggestion chips

Environment settings:

  • Msg/Suggestions

    An array of strings. Each string becomes a suggestion chip text.

  • Suffix/Suggestions

    If Msg/Suggestions is not set, this array of strings will be used instead.

Lists, Options, and Cards

Environment settings to generate a list or a card:

  • Msg/Option/Type

    Should be either "list" or "carousel". The value "collection" is equivalent to "carousel" for AoG v3.

  • Msg/Option/Title

  • Msg/Option/Items

    There must be at least 2 items. (If not, this gets turned into a card.)

    • Msg/Options/Items[]/Title

    • Msg/Options/Items[]/Body

    • Msg/Options/Items[]/ImageUrl

    • Msg/Options/Items[]/ImageText

    • Msg/Options/Items[]/ImageBorder (for Card only) If set, should be one of: "DEFAULT", "WHITE", "CROPPED"

    • Msg/Option/Items[]/Footer (for Browsing Carousel only)

    • Msg/Options/Items[]/Url (for Browsing Carousel and Card only)

When processing the option result:

  • Option Set with the index of the result.
AoG v3 implementation

AoG v3 uses a Session Type to organize the possible responses. You must define the Type in the Builder/SDK. By default, this type is MultivocalOption, but you can change this in the settings in Settings/Option/TypeName.

You must have a Slot for your Scene of this Type, and the prompt for this slot should be what sends the list or collection. The slot should be named multivocalOption, unless you change the path in Settings/Option/Path.


Environment settings:

  • Msg/Table/Title

  • Msg/Table/ImageUrl

  • Msg/Table/ImageText

  • Msg/Table/Headers

    This is an array containing the column headers.

  • Msg/Table/Data

    This must be an array containing the rows in the table. Each row must be an array containing the cells (column by column) in that row.

Link out

(TODO: Link out suggestion - work in progress)

(TODO: Link out/to Android app prompt - work in progress)


Environment settings:

  • Msg/Audio/Url

  • Msg/Audio/Offset

  • Msg/Audio/Title

  • Msg/Audio/Body

  • Msg/Audio/IconUrl

  • Msg/Audio/ImageUrl

  • Setting/Media/Controls

Full Page Display

This supports the Actions on Google "Interactive Canvas" which allows Assistant devices with screens (such as Android and Smart Displays) to display an HTML page that can receive updates as part of the responses.

  • Setting/Page/Url

    The URL that the full page is loaded from. There is no default.

  • Setting/Page/IncludeEnvironment

    An array of Environment paths that are copied into the Data sent as part of the response. It defaults to

    • Intent
    • Action
    • Node
    • Outent
    • the Text and SSML included in the response
  • Msg/Page/Data

    An object containing state information or updates for this response. By default, it may be empty.

    The final object Data will include the attributes specified by Setting/Page/IncludeEnvironment noted above.

  • Msg/SuppressMic

    If true, the mic will be closed immediately, otherwise, left open as usual.

The Data will be sent if both of the following are true:

  • The Setting/Page/Url is set
  • The proper feature in Session/Feature is set by Actions on Google

Transitions or end of conversation

Usually these will be set as part of a response, and usually as part of a Base response, although you can set them manually as well. They should not be part of a Template.

  • ShouldClose For Dialogflow with Actions on Google or Actions Builder, setting this to true will close the Action after the response.

  • NextNode For Actions Builder, if set, this is the name of the scene to transition to or special values (indicated below) indicating recent nodes to transition to.

Special transition values

Multivocal stores recent NodeNames in the Session/Stack/NodeName stack and uses this to allow for "relative" names consisting of one or more periods to indicate how far back in the stack should be returned to (and removing those entries from the stack).

  • . would transition to the same node. While this seems identical to not transitioning at all, Actions Builder would re-trigger the onEntry event if transitioned to, and would not otherwise.
  • .. would transition to the immediately previous node before calling this node.
  • and so forth


When replying using SSML (possibly via Markdown), it is often useful to reply with multiple "voices" - either as part of the same response, different responses in the same session, or between sessions. These voices are defined with a name that you assign, but which may map to different characteristics on different platforms.

Setting Available Voices

Multivocal searches for the voice configuration map under the Config/Local environment setting. This is similar, but not identical, to how it searches for a response. Under this path, it has a number of components:

  • Locale, Lang, and then the undefined language "und". (Same as for responses.)
  • The "Voice" target
  • The platform named used by SpeechMarkdown, stored in Platform/Markdown or "Default"


  • Voices - contains the voice configuration.

Voice Configuration

Voice configuration is a map from a name (that you choose) to an object that contains attributes for that name. Most attributes that start with a capital letter are turned into SSML tags, while those that start with a lowercase letter are allowed for your use. This lets you set other attributes about each voice (which you can use to define the persona attached to that voice, etc).

Attributes being turned into SSML tags have a value which is the object containing attribute/value pairs for that tag.

For example

  "Local": {
    "und": {
      "Voice": {
        "Default": {
          "Scott": {
            "Prosody": {
              "rate": "fast",
              "volume": "loud"
            "food": "chocolate"
          "Eric": {
            "Prosody": {
              "rate": "slow",
              "volume": "soft"
            "food": "noodles"

Defines two voices. Each has SSML that will be used when they "speak", plus another attribute defining their favorite food (which is, we assume, relevant to something else in the conversation).

  • Scott will have his SSML text wrapped in a <prosody rate="fast" volume="loud"> tag and really likes chocolate.
  • Eric will have his SSML text wrapped in a <prosody rate="slow" volume="soft"> tag and enjoys noodles.

Selecting a voice to use

For a response, multivocal searches several locations in the environment for the name of a voice to use:

  • The VoiceRequested environment setting, which lets you set it as part of a response as part of your handler
  • Through the Response or ResponseSuffix objects that resolve when determining and generating a response, and thus the Msg and Suffix objects as well after the templates have been resolved, the VoiceRequested field from those. So you would set one of these in the Response or Suffix objects for your Intent, Action, or Outent:
    • VoiceRequested
    • Template/VoiceRequested
  • The Session/State/Voice path, which contains the name of the voice used for the previous response, with the assumption that you usually want to use the same voice each time during a conversation.
  • The value at Config/Setting/Voice/Default to set an initial voice to use for the conversation.
  • If none of these are found, multivocal pics a voice at random from the list of voices available at Voices. This will be set in the session state so it is used in subsequent rounds of the conversation.

To use multiple voices in a response, you can set the base voice using one of the methods above, and then the SpeechMarkdown [voice] tag to indicate the new voice. The same names you define for multivocal are available through SpeechMarkdown as well.


  • VoiceName - The name of the voice that has been selected.
  • Voice - The configuration of the voice.


User and Session Storage

Requirements and Requests

Sometimes, responses need information that you will collect as part of your conversation with the user. You need to make sure you have the information in the environment before you give a result. Multivocal can help you out by letting you set a requirement in the configuration for a response and automatically calling a requester function which will set things up to get you the values you need - typically by asking the user for this information. Some of the built-in requesters use a system provided helper to get this information.

To indicate when you need a particular requirement to be met, you'll specify that in the Requirements section for a locale, which is setup similarly to the Response section. The key will be the Action/Intent/Default name, while the value will either be a string of the requirement, or an array of strings indicating all the required environment settings.

So to say that the "" and "" Intents require that the user be authenticated, we might have this in our configuration:

  "Local": {
    "und": {
      "Requirements": {
        "": "User/IsAuthenticated",
        "":  "User/IsAuthenticated"

Default requester changes to the environment

Adds two new settings:

  • Requirements/RequestName
  • Requirements/Request

Changes three settings. These are updated and prefixed with Request. and the request name followed by another dot.

  • Action
  • Intent
  • Default

Stores the following in the multivocal_requirements context so the environment will be based on these when the requested value has been set:

  • action
  • actionName
  • intent
  • intentName

Requesting user name

Request name: Permission

Requires: User/Name

Requesting location

Request name: Permission

Requires: Session/Location

Requesting authorization

Request name: SignIn

Requires: User/IsAuthenticated

Request surface feature

(TODO: work in progress)

Requesting place by name

(TODO: work in progress)

Adding your own requirements or changing built-in ones

Mutlivocal.setRequirementsRequest( requirement, requesterFunction )

Your request function should call Multivocal.requestDefault( env, name, additionalParameters) at the end.

In most cases, you'll also want to create a Builder that will get the result and make sure the environment is populated with the requirement.

Counters, Stacks, and Intent/Action Levels

Multivocal will keep track of both how many times some events have happened, and some information about recent events.

  • Session/Counter

    How many times some events have happened during the session.

  • Session/Consecutive

    How many times those same events tracked by Session/Counter have happened in a row. When that event doesn't happen in the current round of a session, it is removed from the Session/Consecutive list (and, obviously, not incremented in the Session/Counter)

  • Session/Stack

    For some events, the most recent non-consecutive values.

Counters set by the system

The system will increment the following Counters as part of the Default handler, shortly before the Response is computed:

  • the handler name, prefixed by 'Handler.'
  • the Node
  • the Action
  • the Intent
  • the Outent
  • NumVisits

Additionally, the User/State/NumVisits environment value is incremented as part of the Action.welcome handler by default

Adding your own counter

In your handler, you can add a counter name to the array at the Counter environment path. The appropriate counters will be incremented as part of the Default handler just before the Response is computed.

Multivocal generally does something like

Util.setObjPath( env, 'Counter[+]', counterName );

You can't check the Counter path to see if the counter will be incremented since this may take place after your Builder or Handler runs. It is safe to add the name more than once - the counter will only be incremented once per request.

Tracking recent information on the stack

The system keeps track of the N most recent changed values for the following environment values set:

  • the NodeName

The stack is implemented as an array with the most recent (ie - current) value added in the 0th position during the default handler. If the current value matches the value on the top of the stack, it is not added. If the stack is greater than the maximum stack size, items are removed from the bottom of the stack.

The stack is used by the system for handling relative transitions with NextNode.

Levels and Responses

Levels are computed for the Action and Intent, and can be used to easily set the responses for that Action/Intent and Level. For example, you can have one set of responses for the first time the user gives a response, a different set for the second time, and then a default set for subsequent responses. These levels can be flexibly defined, so you can reply multiple times at one level, depending how you define it.

The levels are defined in the environment at

  • IntentLevel
  • ActionLevel

When looking for responses to use, multivocal will append a period and the level after the Intent or Action and search for this in the Response section. If it doesn't find one with the level suffix, it looks for one without the suffix, so these act as the default for any (or any undefined) level.

For example, if the level for the "example" action is 2, multivocal would look for results named Action.example.2 and then for Action.example.

By default, the level for an Action or Intent is the value of the Session/Consecutive counter for that Action or Intent. The standard configuration for Action.multivocal.welcome defines two levels:

  1. For the first visit for this user.
  2. For visits 2-4 (inclusive) for this user.

Defining Levels for an Action/Intent


contains the rules for levels for an Action or Intent. Rules may either be defined as a string, in which case it is evaluated as a template and the result is assigned to the level, or as an array. Each element in the array is evaluated, in order, as a boolean. The position of the first element that evaluates to true determines the value of the level. In this case, the first rule, if matched, would be 1, the second 2 and so forth. (This is not the index of the array. It is one more than the index of the array.)

The level 0, or an empty string, or undefined evaluates to "no level".

For example, consider this in the configuration:

    "Level": {
      "Action.multivocal.welcome": [
        "{{eq User.State.NumVisits 1}}",
        "{{lt User.State.NumVisits 5}}"
      "Action.example": "{{(User.State.NumVisits % 10) +  1}}"

If we're evaluating the "multivocal.welcome" Action, this says:

  • If the number of user visits is 1, then the level is 1.
  • Otherwise, if the number of user visits is less than 5, then the level would be 2.
  • Otherwise, no level is defined.

If we're evaluating the "example" Action, then the template is evaluated and produces a level from 1 through 10 (inclusive). You can use this to force rotate between responses each time. Note that we have to add 1, since 0 is "undefined". Levels evaluated this way do not need to be numbers.

You can also explicitly set the IntentLevel and/or ActionLevel in a builder. If already set, multivocal will not try to evaluate it as part of the default handler.


Dialogflow with Actions on Google and Actions Builder support Session Entities which allow you to change Entities to customize it for each user.

Environment setting:

  • Types

    Contains an object with the attribute names being the names of the Types being defined and the value being an object containing the value names as the attribute and a string or array of strings as possible aliases for the value.

So the Types object might look something like

  "shape": {
    "circle": ["oval","sphere"],
    "square": "rectangle"
  "user-color": {
    "red": [],
    "purple": "lavender"

(TODO: Support this for Dialogflow without AoG)


(TODO: Work in progress)


(Future work)

(TODO: Don't send Google's healthcheck ping for analytics)



Does multivocal work with Firebase Cloud Functions?

Yes. In your index.js file, you would have something like

exports.webhook = Multivocal.processFirebaseWebhook;

and your Dialogflow or Actions Builder webhook would be set to the URL that calls this.

Does multivocal work on Google Cloud Platform?

It depends. If you're using Google Cloud Functions, then your index.js file would have a line

exports.webhook = Multivocal.processGCFWebhook;

and your Dialogflow or Actions Builder webhook would be set to the URL that calls this.

If you're doing this some other way (using App Engine, Compute Engine, or a Docker or Kubernetes image - any of which can run node.js), then it depends on what framework you're using to handle HTTPS requests. We've tested with Express.js (see the next question).

Does multivocal work with Express.js?

Yes. You'll want to have your Express app listen for POST requests at a particular route, and then send that to Multivocal for processing.

There are lots of ways to structure your code, but the routing part of it might look something like this: '/webhook', Multivocal.processExpressWebhook );

and you should set your Dialogflow or Actions Builder webhook to the URL that would match this route.

Does multivocal work with AWS Lambda?

Yes, you can use the Multivocal.processLambdaWebhook function and have your Dialogflow or Actions Builder webhook fulfillment set to an AWS API Gateway.

Does multivocal work with Alexa?

Not currently, but this is on our long-term roadmap.

In theory, it shouldn't be too hard. In theory. The tasks involved pretty much boil down to:

  • Identifying the paths to use to get values for the environment builder.
  • Creating a formatter to save things in the correct format.
  • Finding a reasonable way to map Alexa concepts into the concepts we're using (such as figuring out how to handle contexts).

Some of these tasks are the same as what needs to be done for the Actions SDK.

(Are you interested in helping?)

What version of Dialogflow does multivocal work with?

Dialogflow version 2 (Dialogflow ES) was the primary development platform for multivocal for a while, so it is fairly well-supported.

Support for Dialogflow version 3 (Dialogflow CX), is still relatively new and there are some issues and gaps with it. See the platform notes for details.

There is support for version 1 (it reports the version in the environment setting Platform.DialogflowVersion and there is a JSON formatter that creates output for it), but this is no longer the primary development target, so it may not be fully tested. Besides, this version has been deprecated (and possibly shut off) by Google.

What integrations with Dialogflow are supported?

Dialogflow 2 integrations supported are

  • Google Assistant (Actions on Google version 2)
  • Hangouts Chat (also named Google Chat)

See the platform notes for details about the state of Dialogflow 3 integrations.

Does multivocal work with the Actions SDK or the Actions Builder?

Yes, the Actions SDK/Builder (Actions on Google version 3) is supported starting with Multivocal 0.15.

The prior versions of the Actions SDK are not supported. Version 2 of Actions on Google is supported only with Dialogflow.

Use, Licensing, and Contributions

What license is multivocal under?

Apache 2.0

I've found a bug, how can I report it?

Open an issue at

I've got a fix for a bug or an improvement. How can I submit it?

Make sure you've opened an issue for it first (and maybe discussed it with us), then submit the pull request at

Make sure you're ok with the license we'll be distributing it under.

Package Sidebar


npm i multivocal

Weekly Downloads






Unpacked Size

243 kB

Total Files


Last publish


  • afirstenberg