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Err is a chatbot designed to be simple to extend with plugins written in Python.

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Err - the pluggable chatbot

Err is a plugin based chatbot designed to be easily deployable, extensible and maintainable. It allows you to start scripts interactively from your chatrooms for any reason: random humour, starting a build, monitoring commits, triggering alerts… The possibilities are endless.

It is written and extensible in Python, and, where possible, uses external libraries instead of reinventing the wheel.

Err is available as open source software under the GPL3 license.

Community behind the project

If you have a question, feel free to join the chat on gitter. Err has also a google plus community. If you have a bug to report or wish to request a feature, please log these on it’s github page.

We strongly encourage you to share your creations. The only thing you have to do to make your new plugin available to Err installations is to provide a Git url pointing to it. Or, if you feel your new feature could fit as a part of an existing plugin, please feel free to open a pull request for it on github.


Chatting server support:

  • XMPP: Tested with Google Talk, Hipchat, Openfire and Jabber but should be compatible with any standard XMPP server
  • CampFire
  • TOX (Peer to peer encrypted network)
  • IRC

Main features:

  • Powerful plugin architecture: Bot admins can install/uninstall/update/enable/disable plugins dynamically just by chatting with the bot
  • Multi User Chatroom (MUC) support
  • Webhook callbacks
  • Advanced security/access control features (see below)


  • A !help command that dynamically generates documentation for commands using the docstrings in the plugin source code
  • A per-user command history system where users can recall previous commands
  • The ability to proxy and route one-to-one messages to MUC so it can enable simpler XMPP notifiers to be MUC compatible (for example the Jira XMPP notifier)
  • Local text and graphical consoles for testing and development

Administration and Security:

  • Can be setup to a restricted list of people have administrative rights
  • Fine-grained access controls may be defined which allow all or just specific commands to be limited to specific users and/or rooms
  • Plugins may be hosted publicly or privately and dynamically installed (by admins) via their Git url
  • Plugins can be configured directly from chat (no need to change setup files for every plugin)
  • Configs can be exported and imported again with two commands (!export and !import respectively)
  • Technical logs can be logged to file and inspected from the chat or optionally be logged to Sentry

An extensive framework for writing custom plugins:

  • Writing new plugins has a really low learning curve (see below)
  • Graphical and text development consoles allow for fast development roundtrips
  • Plugins get out of the box support for subcommands
  • We provide an automatic persistence store per plugin
  • There’s really simple webhooks integration
  • polling support for plugins
  • custom configuration support per plugin
  • end to end test backend for plugins
  • templating framework for html responses


Err runs under Python 3.3+ and Python 2.7 on Linux, Windows and Mac.

You need to have registered a user for the bot to use on the XMPP or IRC server that you wish to run Err on. A lot of plugins use multi user chatrooms (MUC) as well, so it is recommended (but not required) to have a least one MUC for Err to use as well.


Err may be installed directly from PyPi using pip (easy_install works too) by issuing:

pip install err

Or if you wish to try out the latest, bleeding edge version:

pip install

However, in these cases, installing into a dedicated virtualenv is recommended.

On some distributions, Err is available as a package via your usual package manager. In these cases, it is generally recommended to use your distribution’s package instead of installing from PyPi.

Extra dependencies

requirements.txt lists only the bare minimum list of dependencies needed to run Err. Depending on the backend you choose, additional requirements need to be installed.

For the XMPP based backends you must also install:

dnspython3  # dnspython for Python 2.7

For the TOX backend, you must install:


For the IRC backend, you must install:



After installing Err, you must create a data directory somewhere on your system where config and data may be stored. Find the installation directory of Err, then copy the file <install_directory>/errbot/ to your data directory as

(If you installed Err via pip, the installation directory will most likely be /usr/lib64/python<python_version_number>/site-packages/errbot)

Read the documentation within this file and edit the values as needed so the bot can connect to your chosen XMPP or IRC server.

Starting the daemon

The first time you start Err, it is recommended to run it in foreground mode. This can be done with:


In many cases, just typing will be enough as it is generally added to the PATH automatically. Please pass -h or –help to to get a list of supported parameters. Depending on your situation, you may need to pass –config or –backend when starting Err.

If all that worked, you can now use the -d (or –daemon) parameter to run it in a detached mode:

<path_to_install_directory>/scripts/ --daemon

If you are going to run your bot all the time then using some process control system such as supervisor is highly recommended. Installing and configuring such a system is outside the scope of this document however.

Hacking on Err’s code directly

It’s important to know that as of version 2.0, Err is written for Python 3. In order to run under Python 2.7 the code is run through 3to2 at install time. This means that while it is possible to run Err under Python 3.3+ directly from a source checkout, it is not possible to do so with Python 2.7. If you wish to develop or test with Err’s code under 2.7, you must run:

python install

Alternatively, you can also look into the –editable parameter of pip install.

Interacting with the Bot

After starting Err, you should add the bot to your buddy list if you haven’t already. You can now send commands directly to the bot, or issue commands in a chatroom that the bot has also joined.

To get a list of all available commands, you can issue:

!help full

If you just wish to know more about a specific command you can issue:

!help command

Managing plugins

To get a list of public plugin repos you can issue:


To install a plugin from this list, issue:

!repos install <name of plugin>

You can always uninstall a plugin again with:

!repos uninstall <plugin>

You will probably want to update your plugins periodically. This can be done with:

!repos update all

Note: Please pay attention when you install a plugin, it may have additional dependencies. If the plugin contains a requirements.txt then Err wil automatically check them and warn you when you are missing dependencies.

Writing plugins

Writing your own plugins is extremely simple. As an example, this is all it takes to create a “Hello, world!” plugin for Err:

from errbot import BotPlugin, botcmd

class Hello(BotPlugin):
    """Example 'Hello, world!' plugin for Err"""

    def hello(self, msg, args):
        """Return the phrase "Hello, world!" to you"""
        return "Hello, world!"

This plugin will create the command “!hello” which, when issued, returns “Hello, world!” to you. For more info on everything you can do with plugins, see the plugin development guide.

Release history

Version 2.2.1 (2015-05-16)

Bug fixed:

  • hipchat keepalive

Version 2.2.0 (2015-05-16)

New features:

  • New AUTOINSTALL_DEPS config to autoinstall the dependencies required for plugins

Bug fixed:

  • Don’t 3to2 the config template
  • version pinned yapsy because of an incompatibility with the last version
  • added timeout to the version check builtin

Version 2.2.0-beta (2015-02-16)

New features:

  • New serverless tox backend (see for more info)
  • New Presence callbacks with status messages etc.
  • New file transfert support (upload and downloads) for selected backends
  • New MUC management API
  • added err-githubhook to the official repo list (thx Daniele Sluijters)
  • added err-linksBot to the official repo list (thx Arnaud Vazard)
  • added err-stash to the official repo list (thx Charles Gomes)
  • shlex.split on split_args_with
  • improved !status command (Thx Sijis Aviles)
  • colorized log output
  • configuration access improvements, it is now a property accessible from the plugins (self.bot_configuration) and the backends.
  • bot can optionally name people it replies to in mucs with local conventions toto: or @toto etc… (thx Sijis Aviles)

Bug fixed:

  • complete pass & fixes with a static analyser
  • better feedback when is borken
  • hipchat has been rewritten and goes through the API
  • more consistency on properties versus setters/getters
  • mac osx fixes (thx Andrii Kostenko)
  • unicode fix on irc backend (thx Sijis Aviles)

Version 2.1.0 (2014-07-24)

New features:

  • Various changes to the test backend:
    • setUp method of FullStackTest now takes an extra_plugin_dir argument, deprecating the extra_test_file argument.
    • popMessage and pushMessage are now more pythonically called pop_message and push_message, though the old names continue to work.
    • New testbot fixture to write tests using pytest.
  • Better display of active plugins in debug info (#262).
  • Allow optional username for IRC backend (#256).
  • Raw option for the webhook API.
  • Regex-based bot commands.
  • Pretty-printed output of the !config command.

Bugs fixed:

  • Fix make_ssl_certificate on Python 2.
  • Newer version of Rocket, fixing an issue with releasing ports on OSX (#268).
  • Only run 3to2 during actual install steps (#232).
  • Ignore messages from self (#247).
  • Import irc.connection within try/except block (#245).
  • Better message recipient setting in XMPP MUC responses.
  • Only configure XMPP MUC when having owner affiliation.
  • Use SleekXMPP plugin xep_0004 instead of deprecated old_0004 (#236).

Version 2.0.0 (2014-01-05)


  • split load/unload from blacklist/unblacklist
  • provides a better feedback for 3to2 conversion
  • better formatting for plugin list with unicode bullets
  • better formatting for !reload
  • better feedback on case of !reload problems
  • made loglevel configuration (Thx Daniele Sluijters)
  • added err-dnsnative to the plugin list.


  • Fixed a missing callback_connect on plugin activation
  • Forced Python 3.3 as a minimal req for the py3 version as deps break with 3.2
  • Fixed pip installs during
  • warn_admin breakage on python2
  • SSL IRC backend fix
  • Various typos.

Version 2.0.0-rc2 (2013-11-28)

Migrated the version checker to


  • Fix MUC login: Support tuple & add username
  • Language correction (thx daenney)

Version 2.0.0-rc1 (2013-10-03)


  • Added err-faustbot to the official repo list
  • Added the !room create command for adhoc room creation (google talk)
  • Added sedbot to the official repos
  • Added support for plugin based webviews
  • Add err-agressive-keepalive to the official repos
  • Allow botcmd’s to yield values
  • Allow configuration of MESSAGE_SIZE_LIMIT


  • Properly close shelf upon restart (thx Max Wagner)
  • Fix inverted display of repo status (private/official) (thx Max Wagner)
  • Include jid resource in Message.from/to (Thx Kha)
  • Fix messed up display of status and repos commands (thx Max Wagner)
  • fixed the standalone execution with -c parameter
  • corrected the QT backend under python 3
  • hipchat fix
  • missing dependencies for SRV records (google compatibility)
  • bug in the apropos while adding a command to chatroom
  • XMPP: forward HTML of incoming messages (Thx Kha)
  • corrected the linkyfier in the graphic interface
  • corrected the status display of a plugin that failed at activation stage
  • Handle disconnect events correctly

Version 2.0.0-beta (2013-03-31)


  • SSL support for webhook callbacks
  • JID unicode support
  • Per user command history (Thanks to Leonid S. Usov
  • HIDE_RESTRICTED_COMMANDS option added to filter out the non accessoble commands from the help (Thanks to Leonid S. Usov
  • err-markovbot has been added to the official plugins list (Thanks to Max Wagner
  • the version parsing now supports beta, alpha, rc etc … statuses

Major refactoring:

  • python 3 compatibility
  • xmpp backend has been replaced by sleekxmpp
  • flask has been replaced by bottle (sorry flask no py3 support, no future)
  • rocket is used as webserver with SSL support
  • now the IRC backend uses the smpler python/irc package
  • improved unittest coverage

Version 1.7.1 (2012-12-25)


  • unicode encoding on jabber

Version 1.7.0 (2012-12-24)

Incompatible changes:

For this one if your plugin uses PLUGIN_DIR, you will need to change it to self.plugin_dir as it is a runtime value now.


  • yapsy 1.10 compatibility
  • better detection of self in MUC
  • force python 2 for shebang lines
  • Parses the real nick and the room and put it in the from identity of messages
  • fix for JID Instance has no attribute ‘__len__’
  • partial support for @ in JIDs nodes
  • when a plugin was reloaded, it was not connect notified


  • botprefix is now optional on one on one chats
  • fine grained access control
  • better serialization to disk by default (protocol 2)
  • configurable separate rate limiting for IRC for public and private chats
  • added support for MUC with passwords
  • bot prefixes can be of any length
  • modular !help command (it lists the plugin list with no parameters instead of the full command list)

Dev Improvements:

  • better unit tests
  • Travis CI

Version 1.6.7 (2012-10-08)


  • the XMPP from was not removed as it should and broke the gtalk compatibility
  • fixed ‘jid-malformed’ error with build_reply()


  • new plugin : err-dnsutils
  • Now you can selectively divert chatroom answers from a list of specified commands to a private chat (avoids flooding on IRC for example)
  • the logging can be done using sentry
  • Err can now login using SSL on IRC (thx to Dan Poirier

Version 1.6.6 (2012-09-27)


  • bot initiated messages were not correctly callbacked on jabber backend
  • !apropos was generating an unicode error thx to for the fix
  • corrected a serie of issues related to the sharedmiddleware on flask
  • fixed a regression on the IRC backend thx to for helping on those


  • added err-mailwatch to the official repo thx to for the contribution
  • added a “null” backend to stabilise the web ui

Version 1.6.5 (2012-09-10)



  • The graphical backend now uses a multiline chat to better reflect some backends.

Version 1.6.4 (2012-09-04)

You will need to add 2 new config entries to your See below for details


  • Identity stripping problems
  • fixed warn_admin that regressed
  • close correctly shelves on connection drop [Thx to linux techie]
  • corrected the !status reporting was incorrect for non configured plugins (label C)
  • force a complete reconnection on “See Other Host” XMPP message


  • You can now change the default prefix of the bot (new config BOT_PREFIX) [Thx to Ciaran Gultnieks]
  • Added an optional threadpool to execute commands in parallel (Experimental, new config : BOT_ASYNC)
  • Now the bot waits on signal USR1 so you can do a kill -USR1 PID of err to make it spawn a local python console to debug it live
  • Now you can have several config_*.py, one per backend (to be able to test specifically a backend without having to reconfigure each time the bot)

Version 1.6.3 (2012-08-26)


  • !reload was causing a crash on templating
  • !update was failing on internal_shelf
  • several consistency fixups around Identity and Message, now they should behave almost the same was across all the backends
  • corrected several unicode / utf-8 issues across the backends
  • unified the standard xmpp and hipchat keep alive, they work the same


  • added err-timemachine, an “history” plugin that logs and indexes every messages. You can query it with a lucene syntax over specific dates etc …
  • Added a webserver UI from the webserver builtin plugin (disabled by default see !config webserver to enable it)
  • Now if a config structure changed or failed, the bot will present you the config you had and the default template so you can adapt your current config easily
  • Added the schema for xhtml-im so you can use your favorite xml editor to check what your templates are generating

Version 1.6.2 (2012-08-24)



  • Added basic IRC support
  • Now the BOT_EXTRA_PLUGIN_DIR can be a list so you can develop several plugins at the same time

Version 1.6.1 (2012-08-22)

Simplified the installation.


  • put pyfire as an optional dependency as it is used only for the campfire backend
  • put PySide as an optional dependency as it is used only for the QT graphical backend

Version 1.6.0 (2012-08-16)


  • corrected a threading issue that was preventing err to quit
  • the python shebangs lines where not generic
  • the config path is not inserted first so we don’t conflict with other installs
  • corrected a corruption of the configs on some persistance stores on shutdown


Version 1.5.1 (2012-08-11)


  • the pypi package was not deploying html templates

Version 1.5.0 (2012-08-10)



  • Added XHTML-IM support with Jinja2 templating see to get started.
  • Better presentation on the !repos command
  • load / unload of plugins is now persistent (they are blacklisted when unloaded)
  • Better presentation of the !status command : Now you can see loaded, blacklisted and Erroneous plugins from there
  • A new !about command with some credits and the current version
  • Implemented the history navigation in the graphic test mode (up and down)
  • Added an autocomplete in the graphic test mode
  • Added the logo in the background of the graphic mode

Version 1.4.1 (2012-07-13)


  • corrected a vicious bug when you use metaclasses on plugins with botcmd decorator generated with parameters
  • don’t call any callback message if the message is from the chat history
  • dependency problem with dnspython, it fixes the compatibility with google apps [Thx to linux techie]
  • on repos updates, err now recheck the dependencies (you never know if they changed after the update)


  • Added a new check_configuration callback now by default the configuration check is basic and no implementation has to be done on plugin side
  • Warn the admins in case of command name clashes and fix them by prefixing the name of the plugin + -
  • A brand new graphical mode so you can debug with images displayed etc … (command line option -G) it requires pyside [thx to Paul Labedan]
  • A new !apropos command that search a term into the help descriptions [thx to Ben Van Daele]
  • Now the bot reconnects in case of bad internet connectivity [Thx to linux techie]
  • The bot now supports a “remote chatroom relay” (relay all messages from a MUC to a list of users) on top of a normal relay (from a user to a list of MUC)
    With this you can emulate a partychat mode.
  • err-music [thx to Ben Van Daele and thx to Tali Petrover]

Version 1.4.0 (2012-07-09)


  • improved the detection of own messages
  • automatic rejection if the configuration failed so it the plugin restart with a virgin config


Version 1.3.1 (2012-07-02)


  • nicer warning message in case of public admin command


  • added a warn_admins api for the plugins to warn the bot admins in case of serious problem
  • added err-tv in the official repos list
  • added an automatic version check so admins are warned if a new err is out
  • now if a repo has a standard requirements.txt it will be checked upon to avoid admins having to dig in the logs (warning: it added setuptools as a new dependency for err itself)

Version 1.3.0 (2012-06-26)


  • Security fix : the plugin directory permissions were too lax. Thx to Pinkbyte (Sergey Popov)
  • Corrected a bug in the exit of test mode, the shelves could loose data
  • Added a userfriendly git command check to notify if it is missing


  • Added a version check: plugins can define min_err_version and max_err_version to notify their compatibility
  • Added an online configuration of the plugins. No need to make your plugin users hack the anymore ! just use the command !config
  • Added a minimum Windows support.

Version 1.2.2 (2012-06-21)


  • Corrected a problem when executing it from the dev tree with ./scripts/
  • Corrected the python-daemon dependency
  • Corrected the encoding problem from the console to better match what the bot will gives to the plugins on a real XMPP server
  • Corrected a bug in the python path for the BOT_EXTRA_PLUGIN_DIR setup parameter


  • Added a dictionary mixin for the plugins themselves so you can access you data directly with self[‘entry’]
  • admin_only is now a simple parameter of @botcmd
  • Implemented the history commands : !history !! !1 !2 !3

Version 1.2.1 (2012-06-16)


  • Corrected a crash if the bot could not contact the server


  • Added a split_args_with to the botcmd decorator to ease the burden of parsing args on the plugin side (see
  • Added the pid, uid, gid parameters to the daemon group to be able to package it on linux distributions

Version 1.2.0 (2012-06-14)


  • Don’t nag the user for irrelevant settings from the setting-template
  • Added a message size security in the framework to avoid getting banned from servers when a plugin spills too much


  • Added a test mode (-t) to ease plugin development (no need to have XMPP client / server to install and connect to in order to test the bot)
  • Added err-reviewboard a new plugin by Glen Zangirolam to the repos list
  • Added subcommands supports like the function log_tail will match !log tail [args]

Version 1.1.1 (2012-06-12)


  • Fixed the problem updating the core + restart
  • Greatly improved the reporting in case of configuration mistakes.
  • Patched the presence for a better Hipchat interop.

Version 1.1.0 (2012-06-10)


  • Added the !uptime command
  • !uninstall doesn’t require a full restart anymore
  • !update a plugin doesn’t require a full restart anymore
  • Simplified the usage of the asynchronous self.send() by stripping the last part of the JID for chatrooms
  • Improved the !restart feature so is standalone now (no need to have a anymore)
  • now takes 2 optional parameters : -d to daemonize it and -c to specify the location of the config file

Version 1.0.4 (2012-06-08)

  • First real release, fixups for Pypi compliance.

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