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A highly customizable chatbot implemented in Python.

Project description

Emily is a fully functional chatbot platform built in Python. Emily can be customized and controlled using brain files written in a simple JSON structure, and can also be configured to run your own custom Python code.

Emily does not have incredible abilities out of the box, but is instead meant to give developers of various skill levels an easy-to-configure chatbot that can interact with custom Python code effortlessly.

  • Python 2.7 or later
  • fuzzywuzzy - Fuzzy string matching
    • Uses python-Levenshtein
  • Flask - Web Server Microframework in Python


Using PIP

$ pip install emily


Command Line Example:

After installing Emily, a new bash command is available for chatting with Emily.

$ emily

User      >  Hello

Emily     >  Hello!

User      >  Tell me a joke

Emily     >  Why did the scarecrow win an award?

User      >  I don\'t know

Emily     >  Because he was outstanding in his field...

User      >  bye

Emily     >  Bye!

Stateless Emily:

Emily saves sessions to disk or to DynamoDB depending on your Configuration Parameters. Because of this, Emily can run as a stateless application, meaning she does not need to stay running and retain everything in memory.

Note: Running Emily as a stateless application does have an negative impact on response times.

$ python

>>> import emily
>>> response,session_id = emily.stateless(message="Hello")
>>> print(response,session_id)
(u'Hey there!',42279)
>>> response,session_id = emily.stateless(session_id=session_id,message="Tell me a joke")
>>> print(response,session_id)
(u'Knock knock',42279)
>>> response,session_id = emily.stateless(session_id=session_id,message="Who's there?")
>>> print(response,session_id)
(u'A pencil',42279)
>>> response,session_id = emily.stateless(session_id=session_id,message="A pencil who?")
>>> print(response,session_id)
(u"Never mind, it's pointless",42279)
>>> response,session_id = emily.stateless(session_id=session_id,message="quit")
>>> print(response,session_id)

In between function calls in the example above, Emily is not running as a background process. At each execution, she loads the brain files (including jokes.yaml) and also references her saved session information which allows her to keep track of where the user is in any given conversation.

Notice that the first call to the emily.stateless() function only contains a message and no session_id. Emily will automatically assign the user a session ID and return it with her response. That session ID remains valid until the user sends a message of “quit”, “q”, “exit”, or “bye”.

Emily as a Web Server:

Emily uses Flask to run as a web server and accept HTTP requests.

First start Emily as a web server.

$ emily_server
Web Server Started...

Then, from another terminal window, use HTTP requests to interact with Emily.

$ curl http://localhost:5000/get_session
$ curl -H "Content-Type: application/json" -X POST -d '{"session_id":"40113","message":"Hello"}' http://localhost:5000/chat


  • GET /get_session - Stores a new set of session variables based on the default session variables and returns a session ID
  • POST /get_session - By including a ‘preferred_id’ variable in post body, Emily will attempt to create a new session using the preferred session ID.
  • POST /chat - Send a message to Emily. Request should include a ‘session_id’ parameter and a ‘message’ paramter.

Using Custom Code with Emily

The sample brain files included with Emily provide a good introduction to Emily’s functionality, but by adding custom Python modules, Emily can learn to have some pretty intelligent conversations and carry out complicated tasks. Here is a sample project that uses Emily’s functionality, but provides custom brain files and Python modules.

Project Structure


Inside my_brain.json

  "intent": "my_brain",
  "conversations": {
    "default": {
      "when_i_say_this": {
        "node_type": "response",
        "pattern": "when i say this",
        "responses": [
          "You say this"
      "but_when_i_say_this": {
        "node_type": "simple_logic",
        "pattern": "but when i say this",
        "command": "my_submodule.my_function()",
        "next_node": "print_result"
      "print_result": {
        "node_type": "response",
        "responses": [
          "Run function and print result here: {command_result}"
      "quit": {
        "node_type": "response",
        "pattern": "quit",
        "utterances": [
        "responses": [


import sys,os

def my_function():
    return "The Result"


from six.moves import input # Python 2 and 3 compatible
import emily
import sys
import os

def chatbot(chat=None):
    # Array of brain files from my brain directory
    brains = ["brain/my_brain.json"]

    # Append my modules directory to the Python path so that Emily can import my custom code

    if chat is None:
        # Get Emily as Flask Application
        application = emily.start_emily(more_brains=brains,more_vars={'foo':'bar'},disable_emily_defaults=True),port=5000)
        # Get Emily Session using Emily() Python Class
        session = emily.Emily(more_brains=brains,more_vars={'foo':'bar'},,disable_emily_defaults=True)
        session_id = session.get_session()

        # Enter while loop for command line chatting
        while True:
            user_input = input("User >  ")
            response,session_id = session.send(message=user_input,session_id=session_id)
            print("\nEmily >  {}\n".format(response))

            # Exit while loop if user enters word for quit
            if user_input.upper() in ['Q','QUIT','EXIT','BYE']:

if __name__ == '__main__':
    chatbot(*sys.argv[1:]) if len(sys.argv) > 1 else chatbot()

Example Run

$ python chat
User >  When I say this

Emily >  You say this

User >  but when I say this

Emily >  Run function and print result here: The Result

User >  exit

Emily >  Bye!

Configuration Options

All of Emily’s configuration paramters can be altered when using the Emily() class or when running Emily as a web server using the start_emily() function.

Configuration parameters include:

  • more_brains - Python List of full paths to additional brain files for Emily to consume. Default: None
  • more_vars - Python Dictionary of additional session variables to add to Emily’s default session variables. Default: None
  • disable_emily_defaults - Boolean controlling whether Emily loads her default brain files or not. Default: False

In addition to the paramters above, any paramter contained in the emily/emily_conf/emily_config.yaml can also be passed in to the Emily() class or the start_emily() function. Information on those parameters can be found here: Configuration Parameters


# Example with Emily() Class
session = emily.Emily(more_brains=['other/brain.json'],disable_emily_defaults=True,logging_level='INFO',emily_port=8001,log_file='/full/path/to/my_log_dir/emily.log')
session_id = session.get_session()

# Example with start_emily() function (Flask app)
application = emily.start_emily(more_vars={'foo':'bar'},logging_level='ERROR',emily_port=8001,source='DYNAMODB',region='us-west-2',session_vars_path='emily-dynamo-table')


1.0.8 (2017-04-29)


  • Fixed infinite loop in when source is DYNAMODB and session ID didn’t exist.
  • Adjusted tests for pytest to reflect recent session management changes.

1.0.7 (2017-04-28)


  • Main portion of Emily class tried to get session variables before user had session variables, which returns ‘{}’. When this happens, the default_session_vars and starting_node settings are ignored. Added default_session_vars parameter to sessions.get_session_vars() so that when a session doesn’t exist yet, Emily creates a new one with the default session variables.
  • self.already_started in the Emily() class was not initialized under some circumstances. Now self.already_started begins as True, and is set to False if Emily is not already started.

1.0.6 (2017-04-26)


  • Allowed for preferred session IDs in 1.0.5, which means session IDs may be strings or integers, but Emily was still trying to cast session IDs as integers.

1.0.5 (2017-04-26)


  • Support for preferred session IDs when posting to /get_session or calling the get_session() function in the Emily() class.
  • Introduced templates for hosting Emily in AWS Lambda and Beanstalk, and for having Emily interact with Amazon’s Alexa.


  • get_session_vars had a bug when using DynamoDB as the source for session variables.

1.0.4 (2017-04-11)


  • Emily’s default log file is ‘emily/log/emily.log’, but the empty log directory was not included in the wheel. Added log directory path to
  • Escaped single quote in README.rst that caused the syntax highlights in the command line example to look off.

1.0.3 (2017-04-07)


  • Added function to for removing links in README.rst when creating the long description. PyPI does not display the description properly when there are links.


  • Forgot to make “user_input” change to Emily’s stateless function in release 1.0.2

1.0.2 (2017-04-07)


  • Preformat and intent filters (configured through config file) were expecting “user_input” instead of “{user_input}”, which was inconsistent with user_input logic in nodes. Now the user’s input is always referenced using “{user_input}” no matter where it is referenced.
  • Emily has always set user input to lowercase and removed all puncuation before matching it to patterns. Previously, when “{user_input}” was referenced in commands and responses, this formatted version of the input was used. Changed code so that now “{user_input}” is replaced with the raw input of the user, complete with capitalization and punctuation.

1.0.1 (2017-03-27)


  • Previous version of tried to import emily and reference version, but did so before installing dependencies, so always failed while installing from PyPI. Changed location of version to

1.0.0 (2017-03-27)

  • Initial attempt at releasing Emily to PyPI
  • All features specified in README files should be available

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