Skip to content
A framework for building Slack apps
Branch: master
Clone or download
Latest commit 744220c Jun 10, 2019

README.md

Slack ⚡️ Bolt

Build Status codecov

A framework to build Slack apps, fast.

Initialization

Create an app by calling a constructor, which is a top-level export.

const { App } = require('@slack/bolt');

const app = new App({
  signingSecret: process.env.SLACK_SIGNING_SECRET,
  token: process.env.SLACK_BOT_TOKEN,
});

/* Add functionality here */

(async () => {
  // Start the app
  await app.start(process.env.PORT || 3000);

  console.log('⚡️ Bolt app is running!');
})();

Listening for events

Apps typically react to incoming events, which can be events, actions, commands, or options requests. For each type of event, there's a method to attach a listener function.

// Listen for an event from the Events API
app.event(eventType, fn);

// Listen for an action from a block element (buttons, menus, etc), dialog submission, message action, or legacy action
app.action(actionId, fn);

// Listen for a slash command
app.command(commandName, fn);

// Listen for options requests (from menus with an external data source)
app.options(actionId, fn);

There's a special method that's provided as a convenience to handle Events API events with the type message. Also, you can include a string or RegExp pattern before the listener function to only call that listener function when the message text matches that pattern.

app.message([pattern ,] fn);

Making things happen

Most of the app's functionality will be inside listener functions (the fn parameters above). These functions are called with arguments that make it easy to build a rich app.

  • payload (aliases: message, event, action, command, options) - The contents of the event. The exact structure will depend on which kind of event this listener is attached to. For example, for an event from the Events API, it will the event type structure (the portion inside the event envelope). For a block action or legacy action, it will be the action inside the actions array. The same object will also be available with the specific name for the kind of payload it is. For example, for an event from a block action, you can use the payload and action arguments interchangeably. The easiest way to understand what's in a payload is to simply log it, or otherwise use TypeScript.

  • say - A function to respond to an incoming event. This argument is only available when the listener is triggered for event that contains a channel_id (including message events). Call this function to send a message back to the same channel as the incoming event. It accepts both simple strings (for plain messages) and objects (for complex messages, including blocks or attachments).

  • ack - A function to acknowledge that an incoming event was received by the app. Incoming events from actions, commands, and options requests must be acknowledged by calling this function. See acknowledging events for details.

  • respond - A function to respond to an incoming event. This argument is only available when the listener is triggered for an event that contains a response_url (actions and commands). Call this function to send a message back to the same channel as the incoming event, but using the semantics of the response_url.

  • context - The event context. This object contains data about the message and the app, such as the botId. See advanced usage for more details.

  • body - An object that contains the whole body of the event, which is a superset of the data in payload. Some types of data are only available outside the event payload itself, such as api_app_id, authed_users, etc. This argument should rarely be needed, but for completeness it is provided here.

The arguments are grouped into properties of one object, so that its easier to pick just the ones your listener needs (using object destructuring). Here is an example where the app sends a simple response, so there's no need for most of these arguments:

// Reverse all messages the app can hear
app.message(({ message, say }) => {
  const reversedText = message.text.split('').reverse().join('');
  say(reversedText);
});

Calling the Web API

Listeners can use the full power of all the methods in the Web API (given that your app is installed with the appropriate scopes). Each app has a client property that can be used to call methods. Your listener may read the app's token from the context argument, and use it as the token argument for a method call. See the WebClient documentation for a more complete description of how it can be used.

// React to any message that contains "happy" with a 😀
app.message('happy', async ({ message, context }) => {
  try {
    // Call the "reactions.add" Web API method
    const result = await app.client.reactions.add({
      // Use token from context
      token: context.botToken,
      name: ':grinning:',
      channel: message.channel_id
    });
    console.log(result);
  } catch (error) {
    console.error(error);
  }
});

Acknowledging events

Some types of events need to be acknowledged in order to ensure a consistent user experience inside the Slack client (web, mobile, and desktop apps). This includes all actions, commands, and options requests. Listeners for these events need to call the ack() function, which is passed in as an argument.

In general, the Slack platform expects an acknowledgement within 3 seconds, so listeners should call this function as soon as possible.

Depending on the type of incoming event a listener is meant for, ack() should be called with a parameter:

  • Block actions and message actions: Call ack() with no parameters.

  • Dialog submissions: Call ack() with no parameters when the inputs are all valid, or an object describing the validation errors if any inputs are not valid.

  • Options requests: Call ack() with an object containing the options for the user to see.

  • Legacy message button clicks, menu selections, and slash commands: Either call ack() with no parameters, a string to to update the message with a simple message, or an object to replace it with a complex message. Replacing the message to remove the interactive elements is a best practice for any action that should only be performed once.

If an app does not call ack() within the time limit, Bolt will generate an error. See handling errors for more details.

The following is an example of acknowledging a dialog submission:

app.action({ callbackId: 'my_dialog_callback' }, async ({ action, ack }) => {
  // Expect the ticketId value to begin with "CODE"
  if (action.submission.ticketId.indexOf('CODE') !== 0) {
    ack({
      errors: [{
        name: 'ticketId',
        error: 'This value must begin with CODE',
      }],
    });
    return;
  }
  ack();

  // Do some work
});

Handling errors

If an error occurs in a listener function, its strongly recommended to handle it directly. There are a few cases where those errors may occur after your listener function has returned (such as when calling say() or respond(), or forgetting to call ack()). In these cases, your app will be notified about the error in an error handler function. Your app should register an error handler using the App#error(fn) method.

app.error((error) => {
  // Check the details of the error to handle special cases (such as stopping the app or retrying the sending of a message)
  console.error(error);
});

If you do not attach an error handler, the app will log these errors to the console by default.

The app.error() method should be used as a last resort to catch errors. It is always better to deal with errors in the listeners where they occur because you can use all the context available in that listener. If the app expects that using say() or respond() can fail, it's always possible to use app.client.chat.postMessage() instead, which returns a Promise that can be caught to deal with the error.

Advanced usage

Apps are designed to be extensible using a concept called middleware. Middleware allow you to define how to process a whole set of events before (and after) the listener function is called. This makes it easier to deal with common concerns in one place (e.g. authentication, logging, etc) instead of spreading them out in every listener.

In fact, middleware can be chained so that any number of middleware functions get a chance to run before the listener, and they each run in the order they were added to the chain.

Middleware are just functions - nearly identical to listener functions. They can choose to respond right away, to extend the context argument and continue, or trigger an error. The only difference is that middleware use a special next() argument, a function that's called to let the app know it can continue to the next middleware (or listener) in the chain.

There are two types of middleware: global and listener. Each are explained below.

Global middleware

Global middleware are used to deal with app-wide concerns, where every incoming event should be processed. They are added to the chain using app.use(middleware). You can add multiple middleware, and each of them will run in order before any of the listener middleware, or the listener functions run.

As an example, let's say your app can only work if the user who sends any incoming message is identified using an internal authentication service (e.g. an SSO provider, LDAP, etc). Here is how you might define a global middleware to make that data available to each listener.

const { App } = require('@slack/bolt');

const app = new App({
  signingSecret: process.env.SLACK_SIGNING_SECRET,
  token: process.env.SLACK_BOT_TOKEN,
});

// Add the authentication global middleware
app.use(authWithAcme);

// The listener now has access to the user details
app.message('whoami', ({ say, context }) => { say(`User Details: ${JSON.stringify(context.user)}`) });

(async () => {
  // Start the app
  await app.start(process.env.PORT || 3000);
  console.log('⚡️ Bolt app is running!');
})();

// Authentication middleware - Calls Acme identity provider to associate the incoming event with the user who sent it
// Its a function just like listeners, but it also uses the next argument
function authWithAcme({ payload, context, say, next }) {
  const slackUserId = payload.user;

  // Assume we have a function that can take a Slack user ID as input to find user details from the provider
  acme.lookupBySlackId(slackUserId)
    .then((user) => {
      // When the user lookup is successful, add the user details to the context
      context.user = user;

      // Pass control to the next middleware (if there are any) and the listener functions
      next();
    })
    .catch((error) => {
      // Uh oh, this user hasn't registered with Acme. Send them a registration link, and don't let the
      // middleware/listeners continue
      if (error.message === 'Not Found') {
        // In the real world, you would need to check if the say function was defined, falling back to the respond
        // function if not, and then falling back to only logging the error as a last resort.
        say(`I'm sorry <@${slackUserId}, you aren't registered with Acme. Please use <https://acme.com/register> to use this app.`);
         return;
      }

      // This middleware doesn't know how to handle any other errors. Pass control to the previous middleware (if there
      // are any) or the global error handler.
      next(error);
    });
}

Listener middleware

Listener middleware are used to deal with shared concerns amongst many listeners, but not necessarily for all of them. They are added as arguments that precede the listener function in the call that attaches the listener function. This means the methods described in Listening for events are actually all variadic (they take any number of parameters). You can add as many listener middleware as you like.

As an example, let's say your listener only needs to deal with messages from humans. Messages from apps will always have a subtype of bot_message. We can write a middleware that excludes bot messages, and use it as a listener middleware before the listener attached to message events:

// Listener middleware - filters out messages that have subtype 'bot_message'
function noBotMessages({ message, next }) {
  if (!message.subtype || message.subtype !== 'bot_message') {
     next();
  }
}

// The listener only sees messages from human users
app.message(noBotMessages, ({ message }) => console.log(
`(MSG) User: ${message.user}
       Message: ${message.text}`
));

Message subtype matching is common, so Bolt ships with a builtin listener middleware that filters all messages that match a given subtype. The following is an example of the opposite of the one above - the listener only sees messages that are bot_messages.

const { App, subtype } = require('@slack/bolt');

// Not shown: app initialization and start

// The listener only sees messages from bot users (apps)
app.message(subtype('bot_message'), ({ message }) => console.log(
`(MSG) Bot: ${message.bot_id}
       Message: ${message.text}`
));

Even more advanced usage

The examples above all illustrate how middleware can be used to process an event before the listener (and other middleware in the chain) run. However, middleware can be designed to process the event after the listener finishes. In general, a middleware can run both before and after the remaining middleware chain.

In order to process the event after the listener, the middleware passes a function to next(). The function receives two arguments:

  • error - The value is falsy when the middleware chain finished handling the event normally. When a later middleware calls next(error) (where error is an Error), then this value is set to the error.

  • done - A callback that must be called when processing is complete. When there is no error, or the incoming error has been handled, done() should be called with no parameters. If instead the middleware is propagating an error up the middleware chain, done(error) should be called with the error as its only parameter.

The following example shows a global middleware that calculates the total processing time for the middleware chain by calculating the time difference from before the listener and after the listener:

function logProcessingTime({ next }) {
  const startTimeMs = Date.now();
  next((error, done) => {
    // This middleware doesn't deal with any errors, so it propagates any truthy value to the previous middleware
    if (error) {
      done(error);
      return;
    }

    const endTimeMs = Date.now();
    console.log(`Total processing time: ${endTimeMs - startTimeMs}`);

    // Continue normally
    done();
  });
}

app.use(logProcessingTime)
You can’t perform that action at this time.