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Hubot out of the box doesn't do too much but it is an extensible, scriptable robot friend. There are hundreds of scripts written and maintained by the community and it's easy to write your own. You can create a custom script in hubot's scripts directory or create a script package for sharing with the community!

Anatomy of a script

When you created your hubot, the generator also created a scripts directory. If you peek around there, you will see some examples of scripts. For a script to be a script, it needs to:

  • live in a directory on the hubot script load path (src/scripts and scripts by default)
  • be a .coffee or .js file
  • export a function

By export a function, we just mean:

module.exports = (robot) ->
  # your code here

The robot parameter is an instance of your robot friend. At this point, we can start scripting up some awesomeness.

Hearing and responding

Since this is a chat bot, the most common interactions are based on messages. Hubot can hear messages said in a room or respond to messages directly addressed at it. Both methods take a regular expression and a callback function as parameters. For example:

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.hear /badger/i, (res) ->
    # your code here

  robot.respond /open the pod bay doors/i, (res) ->
    # your code here

The robot.hear /badger/ callback is called anytime a message's text matches. For example:

  • Stop badgering the witness
  • badger me
  • what exactly is a badger anyways

The robot.respond /open the pod bay doors/i callback is only called for messages that are immediately preceded by the robot's name or alias. If the robot's name is HAL and alias is /, then this callback would be triggered for:

  • hal open the pod bay doors
  • HAL: open the pod bay doors
  • @HAL open the pod bay doors
  • /open the pod bay doors

It wouldn't be called for:

  • HAL: please open the pod bay doors
    • because its respond is bound to the text immediately following the robot name
  • has anyone ever mentioned how lovely you are when you open the pod bay doors?
    • because it lacks the robot's name

Send & reply

The res parameter is an instance of Response (historically, this parameter was msg and you may see other scripts use it this way). With it, you can send a message back to the room the res came from, emote a message to a room (If the given adapter supports it), or reply to the person that sent the message. For example:

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.hear /badger/i, (res) ->
    res.send "Badgers? BADGERS? WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN BADGERS"

  robot.respond /open the pod bay doors/i, (res) ->
    res.reply "I'm afraid I can't let you do that."

  robot.hear /I like pie/i, (res) ->
    res.emote "makes a freshly baked pie"

The robot.hear /badgers/ callback sends a message exactly as specified regardless of who said it, "Badgers? BADGERS? WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN BADGERS".

If a user Dave says "HAL: open the pod bay doors", robot.respond /open the pod bay doors/i callback sends a message "Dave: I'm afraid I can't let you do that."

Capturing data

So far, our scripts have had static responses, which while amusing, are boring functionality-wise. res.match has the result of matching the incoming message against the regular expression. This is just a JavaScript thing, which ends up being an array with index 0 being the full text matching the expression. If you include capture groups, those will be populated res.match. For example, if we update a script like:

  robot.respond /open the (.*) doors/i, (res) ->
    # your code here

If Dave says "HAL: open the pod bay doors", then res.match[0] is "open the pod bay doors", and res.match[1] is just "pod bay". Now we can start doing more dynamic things:

  robot.respond /open the (.*) doors/i, (res) ->
    doorType = res.match[1]
    if doorType is "pod bay"
      res.reply "I'm afraid I can't let you do that."
    else
      res.reply "Opening #{doorType} doors"

Making HTTP calls

Hubot can make HTTP calls on your behalf to integrate & consume third party APIs. This can be through an instance of node-scoped-http-client available at robot.http. The simplest case looks like:

  robot.http("https://midnight-train")
    .get() (err, res, body) ->
      # your code here

A post looks like:

  data = JSON.stringify({
    foo: 'bar'
  })
  robot.http("https://midnight-train")
    .header('Content-Type', 'application/json')
    .post(data) (err, res, body) ->
      # your code here

err is an error encountered on the way, if one was encountered. You'll generally want to check for this and handle accordingly:

  robot.http("https://midnight-train")
    .get() (err, res, body) ->
      if err
        res.send "Encountered an error :( #{err}"
        return
      # your code here, knowing it was successful

res is an instance of node's http.ServerResponse. Most of the methods don't matter as much when using node-scoped-http-client, but of interest are statusCode and getHeader. Use statusCode to check for the HTTP status code, where usually non-200 means something bad happened. Use getHeader for peeking at the header, for example to check for rate limiting:

  robot.http("https://midnight-train")
    .get() (err, res, body) ->
      # pretend there's error checking code here

      if res.statusCode isnt 200
        res.send "Request didn't come back HTTP 200 :("
        return

      rateLimitRemaining = parseInt res.getHeader('X-RateLimit-Limit') if res.getHeader('X-RateLimit-Limit')
      if rateLimitRemaining and rateLimitRemaining < 1
        res.send "Rate Limit hit, stop believing for awhile"

      # rest of your code

body is the response's body as a string, the thing you probably care about the most:

  robot.http("https://midnight-train")
    .get() (err, res, body) ->
      # error checking code here

      res.send "Got back #{body}"

JSON

If you are talking to APIs, the easiest way is going to be JSON because it doesn't require any extra dependencies. When making the robot.http call, you should usually set the Accept header to give the API a clue that's what you are expecting back. Once you get the body back, you can parse it with JSON.parse:

  robot.http("https://midnight-train")
    .header('Accept', 'application/json')
    .get() (err, res, body) ->
      # error checking code here

      data = JSON.parse body
      res.send "#{data.passenger} taking midnight train going #{data.destination}"

It's possible to get non-JSON back, like if the API hit an error and it tries to render a normal HTML error instead of JSON. To be on the safe side, you should check the Content-Type, and catch any errors while parsing.

  robot.http("https://midnight-train")
    .header('Accept', 'application/json')
    .get() (err, res, body) ->
      # err & response status checking code here

      if response.getHeader('Content-Type') isnt 'application/json'
        res.send "Didn't get back JSON :("
        return

      data = null
      try
        data = JSON.parse body
      catch error
       res.send "Ran into an error parsing JSON :("
       return

      # your code here

XML

XML APIs are harder because there's not a bundled XML parsing library. It's beyond the scope of this documentation to go into detail, but here are a few libraries to check out:

  • xml2json (simplest to use, but has some limitations)
  • jsdom (JavaScript implementation of the W3C DOM)
  • xml2js

Screen scraping

For those times that there isn't an API, there's always the possibility of screen-scraping. It's beyond the scope of this documentation to go into detail, but here's a few libraries to check out:

  • cheerio (familiar syntax and API to jQuery)
  • jsdom (JavaScript implementation of the W3C DOM)

Advanced HTTP and HTTPS settings

As mentioned, hubot uses node-scoped-http-client to provide a simple interface for making HTTP and HTTPS requests. Under its hood, it's using node's builtin http and https libraries, but providing an easy DSL for the most common kinds of interaction.

If you need to control options on http and https more directly, you pass a second argument to robot.http that will be passed on to node-scoped-http-client which will be passed on to http and https:

  options =
    # don't verify server certificate against a CA, SCARY!
    rejectUnauthorized: false
  robot.http("https://midnight-train", options)

In addition, if node-scoped-http-client doesn't suit you, you can use http and https yourself directly, or any other node library like request.

Random

A common pattern is to hear or respond to commands, and send with a random funny image or line of text from an array of possibilities. It's annoying to do this in JavaScript and CoffeeScript out of the box, so Hubot includes a convenience method:

lulz = ['lol', 'rofl', 'lmao']

res.send res.random lulz

Topic

Hubot can react to a room's topic changing, assuming that the adapter supports it.

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.topic (res) ->
    res.send "#{res.message.text}? That's a Paddlin'"

Entering and leaving

Hubot can see users entering and leaving, assuming that the adapter supports it.

enterReplies = ['Hi', 'Target Acquired', 'Firing', 'Hello friend.', 'Gotcha', 'I see you']
leaveReplies = ['Are you still there?', 'Target lost', 'Searching']

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.enter (res) ->
    res.send res.random enterReplies
  robot.leave (res) ->
    res.send res.random leaveReplies

Custom Listeners

While the above helpers cover most of the functionality the average user needs (hear, respond, enter, leave, topic), sometimes you would like to have very specialized matching logic for listeners. If so, you can use listen to specify a custom match function instead of a regular expression.

The match function must return a truthy value if the listener callback should be executed. The truthy return value of the match function is then passed to the callback as response.match.

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.listen(
    (message) -> # Match function
      # Occassionally respond to things that Steve says
      message.user.name is "Steve" and Math.random() > 0.8
    (response) -> # Standard listener callback
      # Let Steve know how happy you are that he exists
      response.reply "HI STEVE! YOU'RE MY BEST FRIEND! (but only like #{response.match * 100}% of the time)"
  )

See the design patterns document for examples of complex matchers.

Environment variables

Hubot can access the environment he's running in, just like any other node program, using process.env. This can be used to configure how scripts are run, with the convention being to use the HUBOT_ prefix.

answer = process.env.HUBOT_ANSWER_TO_THE_ULTIMATE_QUESTION_OF_LIFE_THE_UNIVERSE_AND_EVERYTHING

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.respond /what is the answer to the ultimate question of life/, (res) ->
    res.send "#{answer}, but what is the question?"

Take care to make sure the script can load if it's not defined, give the Hubot developer notes on how to define it, or default to something. It's up to the script writer to decide if that should be a fatal error (e.g. hubot exits), or not (make any script that relies on it to say it needs to be configured. When possible and when it makes sense to, having a script work without any other configuration is preferred.

Here we can default to something:

answer = process.env.HUBOT_ANSWER_TO_THE_ULTIMATE_QUESTION_OF_LIFE_THE_UNIVERSE_AND_EVERYTHING or 42

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.respond /what is the answer to the ultimate question of life/, (res) ->
    res.send "#{answer}, but what is the question?"

Here we exit if it's not defined:

answer = process.env.HUBOT_ANSWER_TO_THE_ULTIMATE_QUESTION_OF_LIFE_THE_UNIVERSE_AND_EVERYTHING
unless answer?
  console.log "Missing HUBOT_ANSWER_TO_THE_ULTIMATE_QUESTION_OF_LIFE_THE_UNIVERSE_AND_EVERYTHING in environment: please set and try again"
  process.exit(1)

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.respond /what is the answer to the ultimate question of life/, (res) ->
    res.send "#{answer}, but what is the question?"

And lastly, we update the robot.respond to check it:

answer = process.env.HUBOT_ANSWER_TO_THE_ULTIMATE_QUESTION_OF_LIFE_THE_UNIVERSE_AND_EVERYTHING

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.respond /what is the answer to the ultimate question of life/, (res) ->
    unless answer?
      res.send "Missing HUBOT_ANSWER_TO_THE_ULTIMATE_QUESTION_OF_LIFE_THE_UNIVERSE_AND_EVERYTHING in environment: please set and try again"
      return
    res.send "#{answer}, but what is the question?"

Dependencies

Hubot uses npm to manage its dependencies. To add additional packages, add them to dependencies in package.json. For example, to add lolimadeupthispackage 1.2.3, it'd look like:

  "dependencies": {
    "hubot":         "2.5.5",
    "lolimadeupthispackage": "1.2.3"
  },

If you are using scripts from hubot-scripts, take note of the Dependencies documentation in the script to add. They are listed in a format that can be copy & pasted into package.json, just make sure to add commas as necessary to make it valid JSON.

Timeouts and Intervals

Hubot can run code later using JavaScript's built-in setTimeout. It takes a callback method, and the amount of time to wait before calling it:

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.respond /you are a little slow/, (res) ->
    setTimeout () ->
      res.send "Who you calling 'slow'?"
    , 60 * 1000

Additionally, Hubot can run code on an interval using setInterval. It takes a callback method, and the amount of time to wait between calls:

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.respond /annoy me/, (res) ->
    res.send "Hey, want to hear the most annoying sound in the world?"
    setInterval () ->
      res.send "AAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIHHHHHHHHHH"
    , 1000

Both setTimeout and setInterval return the ID of the timeout or interval it created. This can be used to to clearTimeout and clearInterval.

module.exports = (robot) ->
  annoyIntervalId = null

  robot.respond /annoy me/, (res) ->
    if annoyIntervalId
      res.send "AAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIHHHHHHHHHH"
      return

    res.send "Hey, want to hear the most annoying sound in the world?"
    annoyIntervalId = setInterval () ->
      res.send "AAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIHHHHHHHHHH"
    , 1000

  robot.respond /unannoy me/, (res) ->
    if annoyIntervalId
      res.send "GUYS, GUYS, GUYS!"
      clearInterval(annoyIntervalId) ->
      annoyIntervalId = null
    else
      res.send "Not annoying you right now, am I?"

HTTP Listener

Hubot includes support for the express web framework to serve up HTTP requests. It listens on the port specified by the EXPRESS_PORT or PORT environment variables (preferred in that order) and defaults to 8080. An instance of an express application is available at robot.router. It can be protected with username and password by specifying EXPRESS_USER and EXPRESS_PASSWORD. It can automatically serve static files by setting EXPRESS_STATIC.

The most common use of this is for providing HTTP end points for services with webhooks to push to, and have those show up in chat.

module.exports = (robot) ->
  # the expected value of :room is going to vary by adapter, it might be a numeric id, name, token, or some other value
  robot.router.post '/hubot/chatsecrets/:room', (req, res) ->
    room   = req.params.room
    data   = if req.body.payload? then JSON.parse req.body.payload else req.body
    secret = data.secret

    robot.messageRoom room, "I have a secret: #{secret}"

    res.send 'OK'

Test it with curl; also see section on error handling below.

// raw json, must specify Content-Type: application/json
curl -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d '{"secret":"C-TECH Astronomy"}' http://127.0.0.1:8080/hubot/chatsecrets/general

// defaults Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded, must st payload=...
curl -d 'payload=%7B%22secret%22%3A%22C-TECH+Astronomy%22%7D' http://127.0.0.1:8080/hubot/chatsecrets/general

All endpoint URLs should start with the literal string /hubot (regardless of what your robot's name is). This consistency makes it easier to set up webhooks (copy-pasteable URL) and guarantees that URLs are valid (not all bot names are URL-safe).

Events

Hubot can also respond to events which can be used to pass data between scripts. This is done by encapsulating node.js's EventEmitter with robot.emit and robot.on.

One use case for this would be to have one script for handling interactions with a service, and then emitting events as they come up. For example, we could have a script that receives data from a GitHub post-commit hook, make that emit commits as they come in, and then have another script act on those commits.

# src/scripts/github-commits.coffee
module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.router.post "/hubot/gh-commits", (req, res) ->
    robot.emit "commit", {
        user    : {}, #hubot user object
        repo    : 'https://github.com/github/hubot',
        hash  : '2e1951c089bd865839328592ff673d2f08153643'
    }
# src/scripts/heroku.coffee
module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.on "commit", (commit) ->
    robot.send commit.user, "Will now deploy #{commit.hash} from #{commit.repo}!"
    #deploy code goes here

If you provide an event, it's highly recommended to include a hubot user or room object in its data. This would allow for hubot to notify a user or room in chat.

Error Handling

No code is perfect, and errors and exceptions are to be expected. Previously, an uncaught exceptions would crash your hubot instance. Hubot now includes an uncaughtException handler, which provides hooks for scripts to do something about exceptions.

# src/scripts/does-not-compute.coffee
module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.error (err, res) ->
    robot.logger.error "DOES NOT COMPUTE"

    if res?
      res.reply "DOES NOT COMPUTE"

You can do anything you want here, but you will want to take extra precaution of rescuing and logging errors, particularly with asynchronous code. Otherwise, you might find yourself with recursive errors and not know what is going on.

Under the hood, there is an 'error' event emitted, with the error handlers consuming that event. The uncaughtException handler technically leaves the process in an unknown state. Therefore, you should rescue your own exceptions whenever possible, and emit them yourself. The first argument is the error emitted, and the second argument is an optional message that generated the error.

Using previous examples:

  robot.router.post '/hubot/chatsecrets/:room', (req, res) ->
    room = req.params.room
    data = null
    try
      data = JSON.parse req.body.payload
    catch err
      robot.emit 'error', err

    # rest of the code here


  robot.hear /midnight train/i, (res)
    robot.http("https://midnight-train")
      .get() (err, res, body) ->
        if err
          res.reply "Had problems taking the midnight train"
          robot.emit 'error', err, res
          return
        # rest of code here

For the second example, it's worth thinking about what messages the user would see. If you have an error handler that replies to the user, you may not need to add a custom message and could send back the error message provided to the get() request, but of course it depends on how public you want to be with your exception reporting.

Documenting Scripts

Hubot scripts can be documented with comments at the top of their file, for example:

# Description:
#   <description of the scripts functionality>
#
# Dependencies:
#   "<module name>": "<module version>"
#
# Configuration:
#   LIST_OF_ENV_VARS_TO_SET
#
# Commands:
#   hubot <trigger> - <what the respond trigger does>
#   <trigger> - <what the hear trigger does>
#
# Notes:
#   <optional notes required for the script>
#
# Author:
#   <github username of the original script author>

The most important and user facing of these is Commands. At load time, Hubot looks at the Commands section of each scripts, and build a list of all commands. The included help.coffee lets a user ask for help across all commands, or with a search. Therefore, documenting the commands make them a lot more discoverable by users.

When documenting commands, here are some best practices:

  • Stay on one line. Help commands get sorted, so would insert the second line at an unexpected location, where it probably won't make sense.
  • Refer to the Hubot as hubot, even if your hubot is named something else. It will automatically be replaced with the correct name. This makes it easier to share scripts without having to update docs.
  • For robot.respond documentation, always prefix with hubot. Hubot will automatically replace this with your robot's name, or the robot's alias if it has one
  • Check out how man pages document themselves. In particular, brackets indicate optional parts, '...' for any number of arguments, etc.

The other sections are more relevant to developers of the bot, particularly dependencies, configuration variables, and notes. All contributions to hubot-scripts should include all these sections that are related to getting up and running with the script.

Persistence

Hubot has an in-memory key-value store exposed as robot.brain that can be used to store and retrieve data by scripts.

robot.respond /have a soda/i, (res) ->
  # Get number of sodas had (coerced to a number).
  sodasHad = robot.brain.get('totalSodas') * 1 or 0

  if sodasHad > 4
    res.reply "I'm too fizzy.."

  else
    res.reply 'Sure!'

    robot.brain.set 'totalSodas', sodasHad+1
robot.respond /sleep it off/i, (res) ->
  robot.brain.set 'totalSodas', 0
  msg.reply 'zzzzz'

If the script needs to lookup user data, there are methods on robot.brain for looking up one or many users by id, name, or 'fuzzy' matching of name: userForName, userForId, userForFuzzyName, and usersForFuzzyName.

module.exports = (robot) ->

  robot.respond /who is @?([\w .\-]+)\?*$/i, (res) ->
    name = res.match[1].trim()

    users = robot.brain.usersForFuzzyName(name)
    if users.length is 1
      user = users[0]
      # Do something interesting here..

      res.send "#{name} is user - #{user}"

Script Loading

There are three main sources to load scripts from:

  • all scripts bundled with your hubot installation under scripts/ directory
  • community scripts specified in hubot-scripts.json and shipped in the hubot-scripts npm package
  • scripts loaded from external npm packages and specified in external-scripts.json

Scripts loaded from the scripts/ directory are loaded in alphabetical order, so you can expect a consistent load order of scripts. For example:

  • scripts/1-first.coffee
  • scripts/_second.coffee
  • scripts/third.coffee

Sharing Scripts

Once you've built some new scripts to extend the abilities of your robot friend, you should consider sharing them with the world! At the minimum, you need to package up your script and submit it to the Node.js Package Registry. You should also review the best practices for sharing scripts below.

See if a script already exists

Start by checking if an NPM package for a script like yours already exists. If you don't see an existing package that you can contribute to, then you can easily get started using the hubot script yeoman generator.

Creating A Script Package

Creating a script package for hubot is very simple. Start by installing the hubot yeoman generator:

% npm install -g yo generator-hubot

Once you've got the hubot generator installed, creating a hubot script is similar to creating a new hubot. You create a directory for your hubot script and generate a new hubot:script in it. For example, if we wanted to create a hubot script called "my-awesome-script":

% mkdir hubot-my-awesome-script
% cd hubot-my-awesome-script
% yo hubot:script

At this point, the you'll be asked a few questions about the author for the script, name of the script (which is guessed by the directory name), a short description, and keywords to find it (we suggest having at least hubot, hubot-scripts in this list).

If you are using git, the generated directory includes a .gitignore, so you can initialize and add everything:

% git init
% git add .
% git commit -m "Initial commit"

You now have a hubot script repository that's ready to roll! Feel free to crack open the pre-created src/awesome-script.coffee file and start building up your script! When you've got it ready, you can publish it to npmjs by following their documentation!

You'll probably want to write some unit tests for your new script. A sample test script is written to test/awesome-script-test.coffee, which you can run with grunt. For more information on tests, see the Testing Hubot Scripts section.

Listener Metadata

In addition to a regular expression and callback, the hear and respond functions also accept an optional options Object which can be used to attach arbitrary metadata to the generated Listener object. This metadata allows for easy extension of your script's behavior without modifying the script package.

The most important and most common metadata key is id. Every Listener should be given a unique name (options.id; defaults to null). Names should be scoped by module (e.g. 'my-module.my-listener'). These names allow other scripts to directly address individual listeners and extend them with additional functionality like authorization and rate limiting.

Additional extensions may define and handle additional metadata keys. For more information, see the Listener Middleware section.

Returning to an earlier example:

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.respond /annoy me/, id:'annoyance.start', (msg)
    # code to annoy someone

  robot.respond /unannoy me/, id:'annoyance.stop', (msg)
    # code to stop annoying someone

These scoped identifiers allow you to externally specify new behaviors like:

  • authorization policy: "allow everyone in the annoyers group to execute annoyance.* commands"
  • rate limiting: "only allow executing annoyance.start once every 30 minutes"

Middleware

There are three kinds of middleware: Receive, Listener and Response.

Receive middleware runs once, before listeners are checked. Listener middleware runs for every listener that matches the message. Response middleware runs for every response sent to a message.

Execution Process and API

Similar to Express middleware, Hubot executes middleware in definition order. Each middleware can either continue the chain (by calling next) or interrupt the chain (by calling done). If all middleware continues, the listener callback is executed and done is called. Middleware may wrap the done callback to allow executing code in the second half of the process (after the listener callback has been executed or a deeper piece of middleware has interrupted).

Middleware is called with:

  • context
    • See the each middleware type's API to see what the context will expose.
  • next
    • a Function with no additional properties that should be called to continue on to the next piece of middleware/execute the Listener callback
    • next should be called with a single, optional argument: either the provided done function or a new function that eventually calls done. If the argument is not given, the provided done will be assumed.
  • done
  • a Function with no additional properties that should be called to interrupt middleware execution and begin executing the chain of completion functions.
  • done should be called with no arguments

Every middleware receives the same API signature of context, next, and done. Different kinds of middleware may receive different information in the context object. For more details, see the API for each type of middleware.

Error Handling

For synchronous middleware (never yields to the event loop), hubot will automatically catch errors and emit an an error event, just like in standard listeners. Hubot will also automatically call the most recent done callback to unwind the middleware stack. Asynchronous middleware should catch its own exceptions, emit an error event, and call done. Any uncaught exceptions will interrupt all execution of middleware completion callbacks.

Listener Middleware

Listener middleware inserts logic between the listener matching a message and the listener executing. This allows you to create extensions that run for every matching script. Examples include centralized authorization policies, rate limiting, logging, and metrics. Middleware is implemented like other hubot scripts: instead of using the hear and respond methods, middleware is registered using listenerMiddleware.

Listener Middleware Examples

A fully functioning example can be found in hubot-rate-limit.

A simple example of middleware logging command executions:

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.listenerMiddleware (context, next, done) ->
    # Log commands
    robot.logger.info "#{context.response.message.user.name} asked me to #{context.response.message.text}"
    # Continue executing middleware
    next()

In this example, a log message will be written for each chat message that matches a Listener.

A more complex example making a rate limiting decision:

module.exports = (robot) ->
  # Map of listener ID to last time it was executed
  lastExecutedTime = {}

  robot.listenerMiddleware (context, next, done) ->
    try
      # Default to 1s unless listener provides a different minimum period
      minPeriodMs = context.listener.options?.rateLimits?.minPeriodMs? or 1000

      # See if command has been executed recently
      if lastExecutedTime.hasOwnProperty(context.listener.options.id) and
         lastExecutedTime[context.listener.options.id] > Date.now() - minPeriodMs
        # Command is being executed too quickly!
        done()
      else
        next ->
          lastExecutedTime[context.listener.options.id] = Date.now()
          done()
    catch err
      robot.emit('error', err, context.response)

In this example, the middleware checks to see if the listener has been executed in the last 1,000ms. If it has, the middleware calls done immediately, preventing the listener callback from being called. If the listener is allowed to execute, the middleware attaches a done handler so that it can record the time the listener finished executing.

This example also shows how listener-specific metadata can be leveraged to create very powerful extensions: a script developer can use the rate limiting middleware to easily rate limit commands at different rates by just adding the middleware and setting a listener option.

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.hear /hello/, id: 'my-hello', rateLimits: {minPeriodMs: 10000}, (msg) ->
    # This will execute no faster than once every ten seconds
    msg.reply 'Why, hello there!'

Listener Middleware API

Listener middleware callbacks receive three arguments, context, next, and done. See the middleware API for a description of next and done. Listener middleware context includes these fields:

  • listener
    • options: a simple Object containing options set when defining the listener. See Listener Metadata.
    • all other properties should be considered internal
  • response
    • all parts of the standard response API are included in the middleware API. See Send & Reply.
    • middleware may decorate (but not modify) the response object with additional information (e.g. add a property to response.message.user with a user's LDAP groups)
    • note: the textual message (response.message.text) should be considered immutable in listener middleware

Receive Middleware

Receive middleware runs before any listeners have executed. It's suitable for blacklisting commands that have not been updated to add an ID, metrics, and more.

Receive Middleware Example

This simple middlware bans hubot use by a particular user, including hear listeners. If the user attempts to run a command explicitly, it will return an error message.

BLACKLISTED_USERS = [
  '12345' # Restrict access for a user ID for a contractor
]

robot.receiveMiddleware (context, next, done) ->
  if context.response.message.user.id in BLACKLISTED_USERS
    # Don't process this message further.
    context.response.message.finish()

    # If the message starts with 'hubot' or the alias pattern, this user was
    # explicitly trying to run a command, so respond with an error message.
    if context.response.message.text?.match(robot.respondPattern(''))
      context.response.reply "I'm sorry @#{context.response.message.user.name}, but I'm configured to ignore your commands."

    # Don't process further middleware.
    done()
  else
    next(done)

Receive Middleware API

Receive middleware callbacks receive three arguments, context, next, and done. See the middleware API for a description of next and done. Receive middleware context includes these fields:

  • response
    • this response object will not have a match property, as no listeners have been run yet to match it.
    • middleware may decorate the response object with additional information (e.g. add a property to response.message.user with a user's LDAP groups)
    • middleware may modify the response.message object

Response Middleware

Response middleware runs against every message hubot sends to a chat room. It's helpful for message formatting, preventing password leaks, metrics, and more.

Response Middleware Example

This simple example changes the format of links sent to a chat room from markdown links (like example) to the format supported by Slack, https://example.com|example.

module.exports = (robot) ->
  robot.responseMiddleware (context, next, done) ->
    return unless context.plaintext?
    context.strings = (string.replace(/\[([^\[\]]*?)\]\((https?:\/\/.*?)\)/, "<$2|$1>") for string in context.strings)
    next()

Response Middleware API

Response middleware callbacks receive three arguments, context, next, and done. See the middleware API for a description of next and done. Receive middleware context includes these fields:

  • response
    • This response object can be used to send new messages from the middleware. Middleware will be called on these new responses. Be careful not to create infinite loops.
  • strings
    • An array of strings being sent to the chat room adapter. You can edit these, or use context.strings = ["new strings"] to replace them.
  • method
    • A string representing which type of response message the listener sent, such as send, reply, emote or topic.
  • plaintext
    • true or undefined. This will be set to true if the message is of a normal plaintext type, such as send or reply. This property should be treated as read-only.

Testing Hubot Scripts

hubot-test-helper is a good framework for unit testing Hubot scripts. (Note that, in order to use hubot-test-helper, you'll need a recent Node version with support for Promises.)

Install the package in your Hubot instance:

% npm install hubot-test-helper --save-dev

You'll also need to install:

  • a JavaScript testing framework such as Mocha
  • an assertion library such as chai or expect.js

You may also want to install:

  • coffee-script (if you're writing your tests in CoffeeScript rather than JavaScript)
  • a mocking library such as Sinon.js (if your script performs webservice calls or other asynchronous actions)

Here is a sample script that tests the first couple of commands in the Hubot sample script. This script uses Mocha, chai, coffee-script, and of course hubot-test-helper:

test/example-test.coffee

Helper = require('hubot-test-helper')
chai = require 'chai'

expect = chai.expect

helper = new Helper('../scripts/example.coffee')

describe 'example script', ->
  beforeEach ->
    @room = helper.createRoom()

  afterEach ->
    @room.destroy()

  it 'doesn\'t need badgers', ->
    @room.user.say('alice', 'did someone call for a badger?').then =>
      expect(@room.messages).to.eql [
        ['alice', 'did someone call for a badger?']
        ['hubot', 'Badgers? BADGERS? WE DON\'T NEED NO STINKIN BADGERS']
      ]

  it 'won\'t open the pod bay doors', ->
    @room.user.say('bob', '@hubot open the pod bay doors').then =>
      expect(@room.messages).to.eql [
        ['bob', '@hubot open the pod bay doors']
        ['hubot', '@bob I\'m afraid I can\'t let you do that.']
      ]

  it 'will open the dutch doors', ->
    @room.user.say('bob', '@hubot open the dutch doors').then =>
      expect(@room.messages).to.eql [
        ['bob', '@hubot open the dutch doors']
        ['hubot', '@bob Opening dutch doors']
      ]

sample output

% mocha --compilers "coffee:coffee-script/register" test/*.coffee


  example script
    ✓ doesn't need badgers
    ✓ won't open the pod bay doors
    ✓ will open the dutch doors


  3 passing (212ms)