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A server that automatically assigns team members to new issues for them to address or triage. Triager also allows select users to label, close and reopen issues. Currently, it works with GitHub. It should work regardless of whether a repo or set of repos is private or public. This project is currently running for Appium as a way to make sure bug reports don't slip through the cracks. It's also a sort of Node + ES6/ES7 playground! (See below)

How it works

There are two components to Triager that can be used independently:

  1. A Node.js webserver that you can run on your own infrastructure. This can then be set up to receive GitHub webhook notifications whenever an issue is updated or modified. The server will respond to those notifications by automatically assigning a project triager.
  2. A Node.js script that you can run on-demand. It does the same thing the server does, only it will look at every open issue that's not assigned and not in a milestone, and assign it.

The algorithm that Triager uses to assign team members is very simple: it keeps an in-memory understanding of how many issues each team member has been assigned and assigns new issues to the one with the fewest assigned issues. This is also stored as a cache on disk so if the server is restarted it will pick up where it left off.


Triagers can label, close and reopen issues by sending commands through issue comments. This allows limited [write permissions] (

Label an issue:

@triager-bot please label: some, valid, labels.

Close an open issue:

@triager-bot please close.

Reopen a closed issue:

@triager-bot please open.


You need basically two things to make all this work, in addition to setting up a place to host the server itself:

  1. You need to configure a json file with the repos you want to listen to, which people you want in the triage rotation and whether triagers should be assigned issues automatically, e.g.:

    {"repos": [
        "user": "appium",
        "repo": "appium",
        "triagers": ["jlipps", "imurchie", "jonahss", "sebv", "0x1mason"],
        "autoAssign": true,
        "autoLabel": ["AutoAssigned"],
        "validLabels": ["some", "valid", "labels"]
        "user": "appium",
        "repo": "appium-uiauto",
        "triagers": ["jlipps", "penguinho"],
        "autoAssign": true,
        "autoLabel": ["AutoAssigned"],
        "validLabels": ["some", "valid", "labels"]
    "bot": "triager-bot"

    (Note you can also use labels if you want to designate issues which have been assigned with Triager).

  2. Then you need to configure a GitHub access token that has write access to the repos you want to triage. You can make these with your own user account, or you can create a separate GitHub account just to use as a bot in this way. Either way, once you've got the token (see instructions for generating it here), just export it in your env as TRIAGER_TOKEN. It's much safer for it to be an env variable than in your code somewhere.

  3. Give your webhook a secret and export it in your env as WEBHOOK_SECRET.

Run the server

With all this in place, it's super simple to install and run the server:

npm install -g triager
triager --port=<port> --host=<host> --config=</path/to/config>

If you want to run from source, it's also easy:

npm install -g gulp  # if you don't already have gulp globally
git clone
cd triager
npm install
node . --port=<port> --host=<host> --config=</path/to/config>

The gulp command merely does the Traceur transpilation required to get everything into plain old ES5 JavaScript.

The server exposes two HTTP endpoints:

/triager         # endpoint for the GitHub webhook
/triager/status  # get some JSON info about the server's assignment history

Set up GitHub webhooks

Now you can set up your webhook on GitHub, under settings for your repo(s). Make sure to only send information about issues---no need to listen for anything else. So if our server is running at, then we will want to add the GitHub webhook url of:

At this point you should be good to go!

Retroactively assigning old Issues

You can also have Triager assign all currently open and un-milestoned issues! Just run gulp (as always), then:

TRIAGER_TOKEN=<github token> retro_triager --config=</path/to/config>

This doesn't require a server, and it should be idempotent, so this is nice if you just want to run a cron script or a one-time retroactive assignment.


I wanted to explore some of the upcoming JS language features, so I went wild with it. That's the reason we use Traceur to transpile back to ES5 for running on vanilla Node systems. It goes without saying I'm probably doing some things wrong and went overboard trying to use as many features as possible in sometimes inconsistent ways, but this was a lot of fun. I also couldn't resist making my own mini webserver + routing, which I probably didn't need to do. Anyway, Some fun ES6/ES7 features you'll see in the codebase:

  • import/export
  • const/let in addition to var
  • async/await
  • destructured assignment
  • JS classes
  • rest args and spreads
  • inline string templates

Get excited for the future of JS!


A server that automatically assigns team members to new issues to triage







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