Deploying SUSI Zulip bot

Zulip is a popular Real time messaging system, which combines the immediacy of Slack with an email threading model. The SUSI Zulipbot is a custom chatbot for zulip platform which fetches the response from the SUSI Server and will have some additional zulip platform specific features too. Users can install the bot into their zulip workspaces and then interact with the bot. They can either talk to the bot in private message or talk in group channels. This blog walks through the process of deploying SUSI Zulip bot into your workspace.

Cloning python-zulip-api

Python-zulip-api is where all the bots being developed for the Zulip platform can be found. The SUSI bot can be found in zulip_bots/bots/susi. susi.py is the main file where the bot’s code resides. test_susi.py is the file where the test cases for the bot are written. To clone and run the bot locally, make sure you have python3, pip and virtualenv installed. Then follow the below steps:

  1. git clone https://github.com/zulip/python-zulip-api.git  – clone the python-zulip-api repository.
  2. cd python-zulip-api  – navigate into your cloned repository.
  3. python3 ./tools/provision  – install all requirements in a Python virtualenv.
  4. The output of provision  will end with a command of the form source …/activate; run that command to enter the new virtualenv.
  5. Finished. You should now see the name of your venv preceding your prompt, e.g. (zulip-api-py3-venv)

For more information about installing the repository, refer https://zulipchat.com/api/writing-bots

Testing the bot’s output locally

For quick testing of your bot’s output, zulip-terminal is a very useful tool. It provides you a testing environment inside your terminal. After installing the above requirements, run  zulip-terminal susi in your terminal to enable testing the bot’s output:

Enter your message: hi
Reply from the bot is printed between the dotted lines:
——-
Hello!
——-
Enter your message: tell me a joke
Reply from the bot is printed between the dotted lines:
——-
It is said that looking into Chuck Norris’ eyes will reveal your future. Unfortunately, everybody’s future is always the same: death by a roundhouse-kick to the face.
——-
Enter your message: who created you?
Reply from the bot is printed between the dotted lines:
——-
The FOSSASIA community created me
——-
Enter your message: ^C
Ok, if you’re happy with your terminal-based testing, try it out with a Zulip server.
You can refer to https://zulipchat.com/api/running-bots#running-a-bot.

Deploying the bot in a Zulip workspace

Now you can deploy the bot in your own workspace or even in chat.zulip.org workspace. Follow these steps:

  1. After logging to your workspace, go to Settings () -> Your bots -> Add a new bot. Select Generic bot for bot type, fill out the form and click on Create bot.
  2. A new bot user should appear in the Active bots panel.
  3. Download the bot’s zuliprc configuration file to your computer.
  4. Run  zulip-run-bot susi –config-file ~/zuliprc-my-bot (using the path to the zuliprc file from above step).
  5. Congrats! Your bot should be running. Talk to your bot with mentioning @susi in a group channel or directly in a private channel.

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