Nuclear Pumpkin Mocha

    slashbot

    0.1.2 • Public • Published

    slashbot

    A hubot-like chat bot for slack.

    Build Status Npm Version js-standard-style

    Basic Usage (how to set up your slashbot)

    • Fork the example repo (https://github.com/jesseditson/slashbot-example).

      this contains an example of a slashbot setup. The example requires this repository. All the docs are here, so probably star this one or whatever.

    • Clone your shiny new slashbot.

    $ git clone git@github.com:youruser/slashbot-example.git
    cd slashbot-example
    • Browse the list of slashbot commands and listeners, maybe pick out one you like.

      installing a listener is simple. If it's on npm, just type npm install --save <slashbot-command-name> and slashbot will automatically add that command or listener.

    • Cruise to your slack team integration settings (https://yourteam.slack.com/services).

      You'll need to add 3 integrations to unleash the full potential of slashbot:

      1. the bots integration - this is used for slashbot listeners, which can respond to any message in slack. For example, a bot could listen to any sentence beginning with what is <thing>, and respond to the user with a wolfram alpha explanation of the thing in question.
      2. the incoming webhooks integration. This is used by slashbot to post things to slack. It will mostly be used in conjunction with slashbot commands, and is a prerequisite to using any slashbot commands at all.
      3. the slash commands integration. This is used to add new slash commands to slack. When you type /, you see a list of commands slack provides by default. We can create our own (or use open source) slashbot commands and wire them up using this integration.

      Required Integrations

      We'll talk more about slash commands later in this guide. For now, let's get a slashbot server running and talking to us.

    • First, add your bot integration.

      When you add a new bot, you'll be first asked to name it.

      Bot Name

      Then, you'll be taken to the bot settings. From here you can further customize the bot, but the main thing we need is the 'API Token'. Copy the api token - we'll refer to this as the Bot API Token from now on.

    • Now, add your incoming webhooks integration.

      You'll be prompted to choose a channel for your webhook. This is just a default, so don't worry about which room it's in. Your bot will still be able to talk to any slack room. Select a random room and move on.

      There is a lot of info on this page. You don't have to read it - slashbot comes with a built-in respond method that will take care of abstracting this API for you. The one thing you will need is the Webhook URL - it's at the very top of this page. Copy it, and put it somewhere so we can also use it later.

    • Head back to your repo, and install a slashbot listener:

    $ npm install --save slashbot-clever

    this installs a cleverbot listener in your slashbot. This will make slashbot respond to you in natural language when directly addressed. It may not be a very useful listener, but it certainly gives your new slashbot some personality.

    • To see this in action, all we have to do is start the server using our credentials. Head to your repo and run the following (replacing bot-api-token with your Bot API Token, and replacing webhook-url with your Webhook URL from above.):
    $ DEBUG=slashbot* SLASHBOT_TOKENS=slashbot:bot-api-token SLASHBOT_WEBHOOK_URL=webook-url ./slashbot

    The DEBUG environment variable tells slashbot to print all slashbot-related debug logs out. You could be more specific, for instance using DEBUG=slashbot:respond or DEBUG=slashbot-clever* to have it print only the respond module or the slashbot-clever responder logs.

    Your debug log should tell you that it has started slashbot, and print out some useful info. Something like this:

    Bot Started

    • Now that your bot is running, head over to your slack chat room and @message your new bot. You'll notice that the debug log will print out some info about the cleverbot transaction, and your bot should respond to you:

    Response

    Adding slash commands

    We mentioned that we'd be adding slash commands to our bot earlier. Slash commands are cool because they automatically show up in the context menu when hitting /. Slash commands are better than responders for doing things that have business utility like /deploy, because they come with free documentation, and they are easy to remember (just hit /, and you'll see all your installed slash commands).

    • For this example, we'll install a slash command to get an animated gif from google. Just like a listener, we can go to our repo and install it:
    $ npm install --save slashbot-animate
    • This will install an /animate route on our server, that slack will be able to hit with a slash command now.

    • To enable a slash command, head back to your slack settings, and add a slash commands integration.

    New Command

    • On the next page, there's a form. We'll want to get the token from this page, and start our server, whitelisting this token for the animate command:
    $ DEBUG=slashbot* SLASHBOT_TOKENS=slashbot:bot-api-token,slashbot-animate:bot-animate-token SLASHBOT_WEBHOOK_URL=webook-url ./slashbot
    

    The important part of the above line is: SLASHBOT_TOKENS=slashbot:bot-api-token,slashbot-animate:bot-animate-token. The SLASHBOT_TOKENS environment variable is where you will define all your whitelisted access tokens for different scripts. It is a comma separated list in the format of key:value. After you've started your server, we'll need to expose our local server to the web. I'll use ngrok to do this.

    In a new terminal window (leave your slashbot server running), start up ngrok.

    $ ngrok 3000

    Ngrok will tell you where your server can be accessed (something like http://djksjds.ngrok.com). Copy this URL, and head back to your slack settings.

    • Enter your ngrok url as the URL for this slash command. It'll look something like this when you're done:

    Slash URL

    • Optionally, you can go down and expand the information on what this command does. This is where you can enable & configure what shows up inside of slack's autocomplete when a user types /.

    • Once you've saved your integration, you'll be able to type /animate something, and the animate command will post an animated gif for you.

    Configuration

    Slashbot has 2 configuration concepts: public configuration, which are things like the bot name, and private configuration, which are things like access tokens.

    Public configuration

    Public configuration is passed in to the bot when instantiating. If you look at slashbot-example, you'll see that the main file passes in a name. You can also pass in a default icon, which can be an :emoji: or a url.

    Additionally, you can pass in some base configuration options:

    • port - sets the server port • responders - an array of files to require as responders. Use this to create your own responders.

    A fully configured server would look like this:

    slashbot({
      name : 'slashbot',
      icon : ':ghost:',
      port : 3000,
      responders : [
        './responders/shout'
      ]
    },function(err){
      if(err) throw err
      // your bot is now started.
    })

    Private configuration

    Private configuration is all read from the environment. So locally, you'd configure your app like the above examples - just setting variables when starting the server.

    In production, it will vary from system to system how you set these variables. This convention works very well though for systems like heroku which expect private variables to live in the environment.

    The configurable variables are:

    • SLASHBOT_TOKENS - required.

    This environment variable is defined as a set of key-value pairs. keys and values are defined name:token, and separated by commas.

    This must have at least 1 token, slashbot. This will be the token that you find in your bot integration on slack.

    There must also be one token per slash command defined. The key is the name of the command (for instance, slashbot-animate), and the value is the token found in the slack configuration for that command.

    • SLASHBOT_WEBHOOK_URL - required if using any slash commands

    The webhook url that is available from the incoming-webhooks integration.

    Because this package uses debug, you can turn on more verbose logging by specifying DEBUG=slashbot*.

    Deployment

    Deploying slashbot is an identical process to deploying any http webserver, so it can run on almost any hosting environment. The simplest way if you already have a heroku account is to deploy to a free heroku server.

    deploying on heroku:

    To deploy to heroku, you'll need to do a few things:

    1. Create a Procfile
    2. Create a new heroku app
    3. Point your slash commands at the heroku app
    4. Configure your private environment variables
    5. Deploy & scale your heroku app

    Let's go ahead and do that.

    • First, set up your Procfile. If you've cloned the slashbot-example repo, there's already a Procfile in the root of your repo, and you don't have to do anything to it. If you need to make one, the only thing it needs to contain is the following:
    web: ./slashbot
    

    This will tell heroku to run ./slashbot and expect it to connect to $PORT when it starts. Make sure you're not overriding the port option in the slashbot file and you'll be good to go.

    • Now, create a new heroku app. Make sure you have the heroku toolbelt installed, then run the following from your repo:
    $ heroku create <yourappname>

    If this name is not taken, heroku will respond with your new domain name. It will be something like http://yourappname.herokuapp.com.

    • Now, go back to your integration settings, and point all your slash commands at this new endpoint for instance, if you were pointing to http://foo.ngrok.com/animate, you'll change it to https://yourappname.herokuapp.com/animate. From now on, except when testing, you'll want to make sure all your slash commands always point there.

    • Finally, go back to the command line, and load all your private environment variables into your heroku app. You'll want to configure at least the webhook url and the slashbot tokens, along with any responder-specific config variables.

    $ heroku config:add SLASHBOT_TOKENS=slashbot:bot-api-token,slashbot-animate:bot-animate-token SLASHBOT_WEBHOOK_URL=webook-url
    • You're now ready to send your slashbot live.

    Run git push heroku from your repo. When it completes, you'll be ready to add a new web process.

    Run heroku ps:scale web=1 - this tells heroku to create 1 web process (heroku's free tier), running your robot.

    Your bot should now be live in your slack room! If you have trouble talking to it, make sure it was able to start properly by running heroku logs. You can watch the logs live by running heroku logs -t.

    When you make changes to your bot, commit them back to your fork, and run git push heroku and it'll update your heroku bot.

    Custom responders

    The most powerful part of slashbot is the ability to create responders for it. This example demonstrated 2 responders, the slashbot-animate responder and the slashbot-clever responder.

    There are 2 types of responders, listeners and commands. Here's a breakdown on each:

    listeners


    Listeners are responders that are able to respond to any text a user writes in slack. You could use listeners to pick out key phrases and insert wit, or do something more powerful like translate phrases when they don't appear to be in english. This is very similar to the way hubot responders work.

    A listener is a function that receives 2 arguments:

    • message : a string message that a user just typed. This is fired every time someone enters something in chat.
    • a callback : this is a standard node callback, with the signature of err,message. If you want to respond to the user, you can call this method with a message.

    Additionally, if you set a match property on the function, it will require this regex to pass before sending the message to the listener.

    Here's an example of a basic listener that just posts a link to lmgtfy when a person asks how to do something:

     
    var lmgtfy = function(message,callback) {
        var link = 'http://lmgtfy.com/?q=' + encodeURIComponent(message)
        callback(null,'did you try googling it? ' + link)
    }
     
    // respond if the message starts with "how do I"
    lmgtfy.match = /^how do I /i
     
    module.exports = lmgtfy

    Now your bot will respond with snarky lmgtfy links whenever you ask an honest question:

    LMGTFY

    //TODO: cover the this context on listeners

    commands


    // TODO:

    Install

    npm i slashbot

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    1

    Version

    0.1.2

    License

    ISC

    Last publish

    Collaborators

    • jesseditson