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A collection of 🤟 cool 🤟 chat bots

Project description


Python package :

Build Status on 'master' branch PyPi

Docker images :

Build and publish to Docker Hub
Docker debian Docker signal-debian Docker alpine


A collection of 🤟 cool 🤟 chat bots :

  • Transbot is a demo chatbot interface to IBM Watson™ Language Translator service
  • Askbot is a one-shot chatbot that will send a message and wait for an answer

⚠️ My bots are cool, but they are absolutely EXPERIMENTAL use them at your own risk !

This project features :

This document is about how to use the bots. To get more details on how to build / develop with this project, see

Requirements & installation

The bots can be installed and run at your choice from :

Python package installation

A classic (Python package) installation requires :

To install, simply do :

pip3 install nicobot

Then, you can run the bots by their name :

# Runs the 'transbot' bot
transbot [options...]

# Runs the 'askbot' bot
askbot [options...]

Installation from source

To install from source you need to fulfill the requirements for a package installation (see above), then download the code and build it :

git clone
cd nicobot
python3 build
pip3 install -r requirements-runtime.txt .

NOTE Depending on your platform, pip install may trigger a compilation for some or all of the dependencies (i.e. when Python wheels are not available). In this case you may need to install more requirements for the build to succeed : looking at the Dockerfiles in this project may help you gather the exact list.

Now you can run the bots by their name as if they were installed via the package :

# Runs the 'transbot' bot
transbot [options...]

# Runs the 'askbot' bot
askbot [options...]

Docker usage

At the present time there are several Docker images available, with the following tags :

  • debian (or X.Y.Z-debian) : this is the most portable image ; in order to keep it relatively small it does not include the Signal backend (will throw an error if you try --> use XMPP instead)

  • signal-debian (or X.Y.Z-signal-debian) : this is the most complete image ; it is also the largest one, but allows Signal messaging

  • alpine (or X.Y.Z-alpine) : this should be the smallest image, but it's more complex to maintain and therefore might not always meet this expectation. Also, due to the lack/complexity of Alpine support for some Python, Java & native dependencies, images may support less platforms and it currently doesn't provide the Signal backend (you can use XMPP instead).

  • X.Y.Z-<image variant> tags are simply version X.Y.Z of <image variant>. E.g. 1.2.3-alpine is nicobot version 1.2.3 in the alpine variant (not related with alpine's version).

  • latest points to the latest versioned image of signal-debian (which offers all features).

  • dev-<image variant> tags are development versions of the master branch. Do not use : they are probably broken ! History is currently not preserved : there is only one dev- tag of an image variant at a time.

Please have a look at the status shields at the top of this document to get more details like status and size.

ADVICE The current state of those images is such that I suggest you try the alpine image first and switch to a debian* one if you need Signal or encounter runtime issues.

The container is invoked this way :

docker ... [--signal-register <device name>] [--qrcode-options <qr options] <bot name> [<bot arguments>]
  • --signal-register is Signal-specific. It will display a QR code in the console : scan it with the Signal app on the device to link the bot with (it will simply do the signal-cli link command inside the container ; read more about this later in this document). If this option is not given and the signal backend is used, it will use the .local/share/signal-cli directory from the container (you have to mount it) or fail. This option takes a custom device name as its argument.
  • --qrcode-options is Signal-specific. It takes as argument a string of options to pass to the QR code generation command (see python-qrcode).
  • <bot name> is either transbot or askbot
  • <bot arguments> is the list of arguments to pass to the bot (see bots' usage)

If any doubt, just invoke the image without argument to print the inline help statement.

Sample command to start a container :

docker run --rm -it -v "$(pwd)/myconfdir:/etc/nicobot" nicolabs/nicobot transbot -C /etc/nicobot

In this example myconfdir is a local directory with configuration files for the bot (-C option), but you could also set most parameters on the command line.

You can also use docker volumes to persist signal, XMPP and other configuration :

docker run --rm -it -v "$(pwd)/myconfdir:/usr/src/app" -v "$HOME/.local/share/signal-cli:/root/.local/share/signal-cli" -v "$HOME/.omemo:/usr/src/app/.omemo" nicolabs/nicobot transbot

All options that can be passed to the bots' command line can also be passed to the docker command line.

How to use the bots

Transbot usage

Transbot is a demo chatbot interface to IBM Watson™ Language Translator service.

Again, this is NOT STABLE code, there is absolutely no warranty it will work or not harm butterflies on the other side of the world... Use it at your own risk !

It is triggered by messages :

  • either matching the configured pattern
  • or containing a keyword from a given list

When triggered, it will answer with a translation of the given text.

It will reply either to direct messages or to a group chat, depending on the given parameters.

The sample configuration in tests/transbot-sample-conf, demoes how to make the bot answer messages given in the form nicobot <text_to_translate> in <language> (or simply nicobot <text_to_translate>, into the current language) with a translation of <text_to_translate>.

Transbot can also pick a random language to translate into ; the sample configuration file shows how to make it translate messages containing "Hello" or "Goodbye" into a random language.

Quick start

  1. Install nicobot (see above)
  2. Create a Language Translator service instance on IBM Cloud and get the URL and API key from your console
  3. Make a local copy of files in tests/transbot-sample-conf/ and fill the ibmcloud_url and ibmcloud_apikey values into config.yml
  4. Run transbot -C ./transbot-sample-conf (with docker it will be something like docker run -it "$(pwd)/transbot-sample-conf:/etc/nicobot" nicolabs/nicobot transbot -C /etc/nicobot)
  5. Type Hello world in the console : the bot will print a random translation of "Hello World"
  6. Type Bye nicobot : the bot will terminate

You may now explore the dedicated chapters below for more options, including sending & receiving messages through XMPP or Signal instead of keyboard & console.

Main configuration options and files

This paragraph introduces the most important parameters to make this bot work. Please also check the generic options below ; finally run transbot -h to get an exact list of all options.

The bot needs several configuration files that will be generated / downloaded the first time if not provided :

  • --keyword and --keywords-file will help you generate a list of translations for the given keywords so they will trigger the bot even if written in other languages. To do it, run this a first time : transbot --keyword <a_keyword> --keyword <another_keyword> ... to download all known translations for these keywords and save them into a keywords.json file. Next time you run the bot, don't use the --keyword option : it will reuse this saved keywords list. You can use --keywords-file to change the file name.
  • --languages-file : The first time the bot runs it will download the list of supported languages (to translate into) into languages.<locale>.json and reuse it afterwards. You can edit it, to keep just the set of languages you want for instance. You can also use the --locale option to indicate the desired locale.
  • --locale will select the locale to use for default translations (with no target language specified) and as the default parsing language for keywords.
  • --ibmcloud-url and --ibmcloud-apikey take arguments you can obtain from your IBM Cloud account (create a Language Translator instance then go to the resource list)

The patterns and custom texts the bot speaks & recognizes can be defined in the i18n.<locale>.yml file :

  • Transbot will say "Hello" when started and "Goodbye" before shutting down : you can configure those banners in this file.
  • It also defines the pattern that terminates the bot.

A sample configuration is available in the tests/transbot-sample-conf/ directory.

Askbot usage

Askbot is a one-shot chatbot that will typically ask for something and wait for an answer.

It is primarily meant to integrate with other programs in a more large process, like for instance : asking for a user to authenticate via chat.

Again, this is NOT STABLE code, there is absolutely no warranty it will work or not harm butterflies on the other side of the world... Use it at your own risk !

You configure the string to send and the rules that make it exit, depending on the received messages (see options below). Once the conditions are met, the bot will terminate and print the result in JSON format. This JSON structure will have to be parsed in order to retrieve the answer and determine what were the exit(s) condition(s).

Main configuration options

Run askbot -h to get a description of all options.

Below are the most important configuration options for this bot (please also check the generic options below) :

  • --max-count <integer> will define how many messages to read at maximum before exiting. This allows the recipient to split the answer in several messages for instance. However currently all messages are returned by the bot at once at the end, so they cannot be parsed on the fly by an external program. To give x tries to the recipient, run x times this bot instead.
  • --pattern <name> <pattern> defines a pattern that will end the bot when matched. This is the way to detect an answer. It takes 2 arguments : a symbolic name and a regular expression pattern that will be tested against each message. You can define multiple patterns in the same command line, hence the <name> argument, which will allow identifying which pattern(s) matched.

Sample configuration can be found in tests/askbot-sample-conf.


Simple example (with Jabber)
askbot -b jabber -U -r --jabber-password 'Myb0tp@SSword' -m "Hello You !" -p bye 'bye'

Will say 'Hello You !' to, and for a message containing 'bye' to quit. If the recipient handles it, the communication will be end-to-end encrypted with OMEMO.

More complex example (and with Signal)
askbot -m "Do you like me ?" -p yes '(?i)\b(yes|ok)\b' -p no '(?i)\bno\b' -p cancel '(?i)\b(cancel|abort)\b' --max-count 3 -b signal -U '+33123456789' --recipient '+34987654321'

The previous command will :

  1. Send the message "Do you like me" to +34987654321 on Signal
  2. Wait for a maximum of 3 messages in answer and return
  3. Or return immediately if a message matches one of the given patterns labeled 'yes', 'no' or 'cancel'

If the user +34987654321 replies with 2 messages :

  1. I don't know
  2. Ok then : NO !

Then the output would be :

    "max_responses": false,
    "messages": [{
        "message": "I don't know...",
        "patterns": [{
            "name": "yes",
            "pattern": "(?i)\\b(yes|ok)\\b",
            "matched": false
        }, {
            "name": "no",
            "pattern": "(?i)\\bno\\b",
            "matched": false
        }, {
            "name": "cancel",
            "pattern": "(?i)\\b(cancel|abort)\\b",
            "matched": false
    }, {
        "message": "Ok then : NO !",
        "patterns": [{
            "name": "yes",
            "pattern": "(?i)\\b(yes|ok)\\b",
            "matched": true
        }, {
            "name": "no",
            "pattern": "(?i)\\bno\\b",
            "matched": true
        }, {
            "name": "cancel",
            "pattern": "(?i)\\b(cancel|abort)\\b",
            "matched": false

A few notes about the regex usage in this example : in -p yes '(?i)\b(yes|ok)\b' :

  • (?i) enables case-insensitive match
  • \b means "edge of a word" ; it is used to make sure the wanted text will not be part of another word (e.g. tik tok would match ok otherwise)
  • Note that a regex search is done on the messages (not a match) so it is not required to specify a full regular expression with ^ and $ (though you may do, if you want to). This makes the pattern more readable.
  • The pattern is labeled 'yes' so it can be easily identified in the JSON output and counted as a positive match

You may also have noticed the importance of defining patterns that don't overlap (here the message matched both 'yes' and 'no') or being ready to handle unknown states.

To make use of the bot, you could parse its output with a script, or with a command-line client like jq :

# tail -1 will skip the messages printed to the console and only pipe the final line to jq
askbot -m Hello -p ok ok | tail -1 | jq

Here's an example snippet for a Python program to extract the name of the matched patterns :

# loads the JSON output
output = json.loads('{ "max_responses": false, "messages": [...] }')
# 'matched' is the list of the names of the patterns that matched against the last message
matched = [ p['name'] for p in output['messages'][-1]['patterns'] if p['matched'] ]
# e.g. matched = `['yes','no']`

Generic instructions

Common options

The following options are common to both bots :

  • --config-file and --config-dir let you change the default configuration directory and file. All configuration files will be looked up from this directory ; --config-file allows overriding the location of config.yml.
  • --backend selects the chatter system to use : it currently supports "console", "signal" and "jabber" (see below)
  • --stealth will make the bot connect and listen to messages but print answers to the console instead of sending it ; useful to observe the bot's behavior in a real chatroom...
  • --debug / -d / --verbosity / -v those options modify the verbosity level : --debug is a flag that sets it to DEBUG while with --verbosity you can define the exact level (e.g. -v TRACE).

Configuration file : config.yml

Options can also be taken from a configuration file. By default it reads the config.yml file in the current directory but can be changed with the --config-file and --config-dir options.

This file is in YAML format with all options at root level. Keys are named after the command line options, with middle dashes - replaced with underscores _ and a s appended for lists (option --ibmcloud-url https://api... will become ibmcloud_url: https://api... and --keywords-file 1.json --keywords-file 2.json will become :

    - 1.json
    - 2.json

See also sample configurations in the tests/ directory.

If unsure, please first review YAML syntax as it has a few traps.

Using the Jabber/XMPP backend

By specifying --backend jabber you can make the bot chat with XMPP (a.k.a. Jabber) users.

Jabber-specific options
  • --jabber-username and --jabber-password are the JabberID (e.g. and password of the bot's account used to send and read messages. If --jabber-username is missing, --username will be used.
  • --jabber-recipient is the JabberID of the person to send the message to. If missing, --recipient will be used.

A .omemo directory inside the configuration directory will be created or reused if existing to store OMEMO authentication data.

transbot -C tests/transbot-sample-conf -b jabber -U -r`

With :

  • -b jabber to select the XMPP/Jabber backend
  • -U the JabberID of the bot
  • -r the JabberID of the correspondent
Common issues

If you have the following error :

ERROR	Couldn't load the OMEMO object; ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
ERROR	And error occured when loading the omemo plugin.
omemo.exceptions.inconsistentinfoexception.InconsistentInfoException: Given storage is only usable for jid on device 1234567890.

This may be because you previously registered another device at the same place : move or delete the .omemo directory and retry.

Using the Signal backend

By specifying --backend signal you can make the bot chat with Signal users.


For package and source installations, you must first install and configure signal-cli.

For all installations, you must register or link the computer where the bot will run ; e.g. :

signal-cli link --name MyComputer

With docker images you can do this registration by using the --signal-register option. This will save the registration files into /root/.local/share/signal-cli/ inside the container. If this location is bound to a persistent volume, it can be reused on next launch.

Please see signal-cli's man page for more details about the registration process.

Signal-specific options
  • --signal-username selects the account to use to send and read message : it is a phone number in international format (e.g. +33123456789). In config.yml, make sure to put quotes around it to prevent YAML thinking it's an integer (because of the 'plus' sign). If missing, --username will be used.
  • --signal-recipient and --signal-group select the recipient (only one of them should be given). Make sure --signal-recipient is in international phone number format and --signal-group is a base 64 group ID (e.g. --signal-group "mABCDNVoEFGz0YeZM1234Q=="). If --signal-recipient is missing, --recipient will be used. To get the IDs of the groups you are in, run : signal-cli -U +336123456789 listGroups

Example :

transbot -b signal -U +33612345678 -g "mABCDNVoEFGz0YeZM1234Q==" --ibmcloud-url --ibmcloud-apikey "f5sAznhrKQyvBFFaZbtF60m5tzLbqWhyALQawBg5TjRI"

External resources

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