hubot natural

Natural Language Processing Chatbot for RocketChat


Hubot Natural

Build Status

Natural Language ChatBot

Hubot is one of the most famous bot creating framework on the web, that’s because github made it easy to create. If you can define your commands in a RegExp param, basically you can do anything with Hubot. That’s a great contribution to ChatOps culture.

Inspired by that, we wanted to provide the same simplicity to our community to develop chatbots that can actually process natural language and execute tasks, as easy as building RegExp oriented bots.

So, we’ve found a really charming project to initiate from, the Digital Ocean’s Heartbot a shot of love to for your favorite chat client =)

Based on Heartbot, we introduced some NLP power from NaturalNode team, an impressive collections of Natural Language Processing libs made to be used in NodeJS.

And so, the magic happens…

Welcome to HubotNatural, a new an exciting chatbot framework based in Hubot and NaturalNode libs, with an simple and extensible architecture designed by Digital Ocean’s HeartBot Team, made with love and care by Rocket.Chat Team.

We hope you enjoy the project and find some time to contribute.

How it Works

HubotNatural is made to be easy to train and extend. So what you have to understand basically is that it has an YAML corpus, where you can design your chatbot interactions using nothing but YAML’s notation.

All YAML interactions designed in corpus can have it’s own parameters, which will be processed by an event class.

Event classes give the possibility to extend HubotNatural. By writing your own event classes you can give your chatbot the skills to interact with any services you need.

YAML corpus

The YAML file is loaded in scripts/index.js, parsed and passed to chatbot bind, which will be found in scripts/bot/index.js, the cortex of the bot, where all information flux and control are programmed.

The YAML corpus is located in training_data/corpus.yml and it’s basic structure looks like this:

trust: .85
  - name: salutation
      - hi there
      - hello everyone
      - what's up bot
      - good morning
      - - Hello there $user, how are you?
        - Glad to be here...
      - Hey there, nice to see you!
    event: respond

What this syntax means:

  • trust: the minimum level of certain that must be returned by the classifier in order to run this interaction. Value is 0 to 1 (0% to 100%). If a classifier returns a value of certainty minor than trust, the bots responds with and error interaction node.
  • interactions: An vector with lots of interaction nodes that will be parsed. Every interaction designed to your chatbot must be under an interaction.node object structure.
  • name: that’s the unique name of the interaction by which it will be identified. Do not create more than one interaction with the same attribute.
  • expect: Those are the sentences that will be given to the bots training. They can be strings or keywords vectors, like ['consume','use'].
  • answer: the messages that will be sent to the user, if the classifiers get classified above the trust level. The node.message will be parsed and sent by event class. In order to use multiline strings inside your YAML, you must follow the YAML Multiline Strings syntax. You can specify variables in message. By default HubotNatural comes with $user, $bot and $room variables.
  • event: is the name of the CoffeeScript or JavaScript Class inside scripts/events, without the file extension.

Event Coffee Classes

Event classes can be written to extend the chatbot skills. They receives the interaction object and parse the message, like this:

class respond
  constructor: (@interaction) ->
  process: (msg) =>
    sendMessages(stringElseRandomKey(@interaction.answer), msg)

module.exports = respond

It’s base constructor is the @interaction node so you can have access to all attributes inside an interaction just using @interaction.attribute. Here you can parse texts, call APIs, read files, access databases, and everything else you need.
You may want to use the function stringElseRandomKey to get a random element of a list, if it’s parameter is a list, and use the function sendMessages to send messages to an user.

Logistic Regression Classifier

The NaturalNode library comes with two kinds of classifiers, the Naive Bayes classifier known as the BayesClassifier and the LogisticRegressionClassifier functions. By default, HubotNatural uses the LogisticRegressionClassifier. It just came with better results in our tests.


There is also more than one kind of stemmer. You should set the stemmer to define your language. By default we use the PorterStemmerPt for portuguese, but you can find english, russian, italian, french, spanish and other stemmers in NaturalNode libs, or even write your own based on those.

Just check inside node_modules/natural/lib/natural/stemmers/.

To change the stemmers language, just set the environment variable HUBOT_LANG as pt, en, es, and any other language termination that corresponds to a stemmer file inside the above directory.

Deploy with Docker

We have a Dockerfile that builds a lightweight image based in Linux Alpine with all the repository content so you can upload that image to a docker registry and deploy your chatbot from there. It is located on docker folder.

You also can use docker-compose.yml file to load a local instance of Rocket.Chat, MongoDB and HubotNatural services, where you can change the parameters if you must.

The docker-compose file looks like this:

version: '2'

    image: rocketchat/
    restart: unless-stopped
      - ./uploads:/app/uploads
      - PORT=3000
      - ROOT_URL=http://localhost:3000
      - MONGO_URL=mongodb://mongo:27017/rocketchat
      - MONGO_OPLOG_URL=mongodb://mongo:27017/local
      - MAIL_URL=smtp://
#       - HTTP_PROXY=
#       - HTTPS_PROXY=
      - mongo
      - 3000:3000

    image: mongo:3.2
    restart: unless-stopped
     - ./data/db:/data/db
     #- ./data/dump:/dump
    command: mongod --smallfiles --oplogSize 128 --replSet rs0

    image: mongo:3.2
    command: 'mongo mongo/rocketchat --eval "rs.initiate({ _id: ''rs0'', members: [ { _id: 0, host: ''localhost:27017'' } ]})"'
      - mongo

    build: .
    restart: unless-stopped
      - HUBOT_ADAPTER=rocketchat
      - HUBOT_NAME='Hubot Natural'
      - HUBOT_OWNER=RocketChat
      - HUBOT_DESCRIPTION='Hubot natural language processing'
      - HUBOT_LOG_LEVEL=debug
      - HUBOT_CORPUS=corpus.yml
      - HUBOT_LANG=pt
      - RESPOND_TO_DM=true
      - RESPOND_TO_EDITED=true
      - LISTEN_ON_ALL_PUBLIC=false
      - ROCKETCHAT_AUTH=password
      - ROCKETCHAT_URL=rocketchat:3000
      - ROCKETCHAT_USER=botnat
      - ROCKETCHAT_PASSWORD=botnatpass
      - ./scripts:/home/hubotnat/bot/scripts
      - ./training_data:/home/hubotnat/bot/training_data
      - rocketchat
      - 3001:8080

You can change the attributes of variables and volumes to your specific needs and run docker-compose up in terminal to start the rocketchat service at http://localhost:3000.
ATTENTION: You must remember that hubot must have a real rocketchat user created to login with. So by the first time you run this, you must first go into rocketchat and create a new user for hubot, change the ROCKETCHAT_USER and ROCKETCHAT_PASSWORD variables in the docker-compose.yml file, and then reload the services using docker-compose stop && docker-compose up to start it all over again.

If you want to run only the hubot-natural service to connect an already running instance of Rocket.Chat, you just need to remember to set the ROCKETCHAT_URL to a correct value, like

Bot configuration

In order to correctly use Hubot Natural, after running docker-compose up command, it is necessary to do some configuration steps. To do that, there are two main options:

The first one is to do manually the steps described at bot config documentation.

The second option is to execute the script, located at root directory on project. That will automatically configure bot based on following variables defined on script: admin_name, admin_password, bot_name and bot_password. It is important to remember of properly set the values of this variables according to the context. The values used on bot_name and bot_password must be the same defined on docker-compose.yml, on the variables ROCKETCHAT_USER and ROCKETCHAT_PASSWORD respectively. And the values defined at admin_name and admin_password variables must be the credentials of an pre existent user on rocketchat, that has admin permissions.

To create an admin user automatically, before executing the services, just define the variables ADMIN_USERNAME and ADMIN_PASS for rocketchat service on docker-compose.yml.

Deploy with Hubot

To deploy HubotNatural, first you have to install yo hubot-generator:

npm install -g yo generator-hubot

Then you will clone HubotNatural repository:

git clone mybot

Change ‘mybot’ in the git clone command above to whatever your bot’s name will be, and install hubot binaries, without overwitting any of the files inside the folder:

cd mybot
npm install
yo hubot

                    /                             \
   //\              |      Extracting input for    |
  ////\    _____    |   self-replication process   |
 //////\  /_____\   \                             /
 ======= |[^_/\_]|   /----------------------------
  |   | _|[email protected]@__|__
  +===+/  ///     \_\
   | |_\ /// HUBOT/\\
   |___/\//      /  \\
         \      /   +---+
          \____/    |   |
           | //|    +===+
            \//      |xx|

? Owner Diego <[email protected]>
? Bot name mybot
? Description A simple helpful chatbot for your Company
? Bot adapter rocketchat
   create bin/hubot
   create bin/hubot.cmd
 conflict Procfile
? Overwrite Procfile? do not overwrite
     skip Procfile
? Overwrite do not overwrite
   create external-scripts.json
   create hubot-scripts.json
 conflict .gitignore
? Overwrite .gitignore? do not overwrite
     skip .gitignore
 conflict package.json
? Overwrite package.json? do not overwrite
     skip package.json
   create scripts/
   create .editorconfig

Now, to run your chatbot in shell, you should run:


wait a minute for the loading process, and then you can talk to mybot.

Take a look to adapters to run your bot in other platafforms.

Configure Live Transfer

It’s possible to configure Hubot Natural to redirect conversation to a real person, in moments when the bot can not help users as much as needed.
To activate and configure Live Transfer feature, follow the steps described on live transfer config documentation.

Env Variables:

In your terminal window, run:

export HUBOT_ADAPTER=rocketchat
export HUBOT_OWNER=RocketChat
export HUBOT_NAME='Bot Name'
export HUBOT_DESCRIPTION='Description of your bot'
export RESPOND_TO_DM=true
export ROCKETCHAT_USER=catbot
export ROCKETCHAT_PASSWORD='bot password'
export ROCKETCHAT_AUTH=password
export HUBOT_LOG_LEVEL=debug
export HUBOT_CORPUS='corpus.yml'
export HUBOT_LANG='en'
bin/hubot -a rocketchat --name $HUBOT_NAME

You can check hubot-rocketchat adapter project for more details.

PM2 Json File

As NodeJS developers we learned to love Process Manager PM2, and we really encourage you to use it.

npm install pm2 -g

Create a mybot.json file and jut set it’s content as:

	"apps": [{
		"name": "mybot",
		"interpreter": "/bin/bash",
		"watch": true,
		"ignore_watch" : ["client/img"],
		"script": "bin/hubot",
		"args": "-a rocketchat",
		"port": "3001",
		"env": {
			"ROCKETCHAT_URL": "https://localhost:3000",
			"ROCKETCHAT_ROOM": "general",
			"RESPOND_TO_DM": true,
			"ROCKETCHAT_USER": "mybot",
			"ROCKETCHAT_AUTH": "password",
			"HUBOT_LOG_LEVEL": "debug"

You can also instantiate more than one process with PM2, if you want for example to run more than one instance of your bot:

	"apps": [{
		"name": "mybot.0",
		"interpreter": "/bin/bash",
		"watch": true,
		"ignore_watch" : ["client/img"],
		"script": "bin/hubot",
		"args": "-a rocketchat",
		"port": "3001",
		"env": {
			"ROCKETCHAT_URL": "https://localhost:3000",
			"ROCKETCHAT_ROOM": "general",
			"RESPOND_TO_DM": true,
			"ROCKETCHAT_USER": "mybot",
			"ROCKETCHAT_AUTH": "password",
			"HUBOT_LOG_LEVEL": "debug"
	}, {
		"name": "mybot.1",
		"interpreter": "/bin/bash",
		"watch": true,
		"ignore_watch" : ["client/img"],
		"script": "bin/hubot",
		"args": "-a rocketchat",
		"port": "3002",
		"env": {
			"ROCKETCHAT_ROOM": "general",
			"RESPOND_TO_DM": true,
			"ROCKETCHAT_USER": "mybot",
			"ROCKETCHAT_AUTH": "password",
			"HUBOT_LOG_LEVEL": "debug"

And of course, you can go nuts setting configs for different plataforms, like facebook mensenger, twitter or telegram ;P.

Hubot Adapters

Hubot comes with at least 38 adapters, including Rocket.Chat addapter of course.
To connect to your Rocket.Chat instance, you can set env variables, our config pm2 json file.

Checkout other hubot adapters for more info.

Thanks to

In Rocket.Chat we are so in love by what we do that we couldn’t forget to thanks everyone that made it possible!

Github Hubot Team

Thanks guys for this amazing framework, hubots lives in the heart of Rocket.Chat, and we recommend everyone to checkout and find much much more about hubot!

Natural Node Project

To the NaturalNode Team our most sincere “THAK YOU VERY MUCH!! We loved your project and we are excited to contribute!”.
Checkout and let your mind blow!

Digital Ocean’s Heartbot

We can not thanks Digital Ocean enough, not only for this beautifull HeartBot project, but also for all the great tutorials and all the contributions to OpenSource moviment.

Thanks to Our Community

And for last but not least, thanks to our big community of contributors, testers, users, partners, and everybody who loves Rocket.Chat and made all this possible.