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Writing a Mattermost app in JavaScript

This quick start guide explains the basics of writing a Mattermost app. In this guide you will build an app that:

  • Contains a manifest.json, declares itself an HTTP application that acts as a bot, and attaches to locations in the user interface.
  • Attaches the form send-modal in its bindings to a button in the channel header, and the form send to a /helloworld command.
  • Contains a send function that sends a parameterized message back to the user.
  • Contains a send-modal function that forces displaying the send form as a modal.

You can view an example here.

Prerequisites 

Before you can start with your app, you first need to set up a local developer environment following the server and webapp setup guides. You must enable the apps feature flag before starting the Mattermost server by setting the environment variable MM_FEATUREFLAGS_AppsEnabled to true by e.g. adding export MM_FEATUREFLAGS_AppsEnabled=true to your .bashrc or using make run-server MM_FEATUREFLAGS_AppsEnabled=true.

In the System Console, ensure that the following are set to true:

  • Enable Bot Account Creation
  • Enable OAuth 2.0 Service Provider

Note: Apps do not work with a production release of Mattermost right now. They can only be run in a development environment. A future release will support production environments.

Install the Apps plugin 

The apps plugin is a communication bridge between your app and the Mattermost server. To install it on your local server, start by cloning the code in a directory of your choice run:

git clone https://github.com/mattermost/mattermost-plugin-apps.git

Then build the plugin using:

cd mattermost-plugin-apps
make dist

Then upload it to your local Mattermost server via the System Console.

Building the app 

Start building your app by creating a directory for the code, setup a new package and install node-fetch and express, which will be used later:

mkdir my-app
cd my-app
npm init
npm install node-fetch express

Then create a file called app.js containing a simple HTTP server:

const express = require('express');
const fetch = require('node-fetch'); // for later use

const app = express();
app.use(express.json());
const host = 'localhost';
const port = 8080;

app.listen(port, host, () => {
    console.log(`hello-world app listening at http://${host}:${port}`);
});

Manifest 

Your app has to provide a manifest, which declares app metadata. In this example, the following permissions are requested:

  • Create posts as a bot.
  • Render icons in the channel header.
  • Create slash commands.

The app needs to serve the manifest via HTTP. Therefore you need to attach a new HTTP handler to /manifest.json:

app.get('/manifest.json', (req, res) => {
    res.json({
        app_id: 'hello-world',
        display_name: 'Hello, world!',
        app_type: 'http',
        icon: 'icon.png',
        root_url: 'http://localhost:8080',
        requested_permissions: [
            'act_as_bot',
        ],
        requested_locations: [
            '/channel_header',
            '/command',
        ],
    });
});

Bindings and locations 

Locations are named elements in the Mattermost user interface. Bindings specify how an app’s calls should be displayed and invoked from these locations.

The app creates a channel header button, and adds a /helloworld send command.

Add a handler for /bindings:

app.post('/bindings', (req, res) => {
    res.json({
        type: 'ok',
        data: [
            {
                location: '/channel_header',
                bindings: [
                    {
                        location: 'send-button',
                        icon: 'icon.png',
                        label: 'send hello message',
                        call: {
                            path: '/send-modal',
                        },
                    },
                ],
            },
            {
                location: '/command',
                bindings: [
                    {
                        icon: 'icon.png',
                        label: 'helloworld',
                        description: 'Hello World app',
                        hint: '[send]',
                        bindings: [
                            {
                                location: 'send',
                                label: 'send',
                                call: {
                                    path: '/send',
                                },
                            },
                        ],
                    },
                ],
            },
        ],
    });
});

Functions and form 

Functions handle user events and webhooks. The Hello World app exposes two functions:

  • /send that services the command and modal.
  • /send-modal that forces the modal to be displayed.

The functions use a simple form with one text field named "message", the form submits to /send.

/send/form and send-modal/submit both return the same data:

app.post(['/send/form', '/send-modal/submit'], (req, res) => {
    res.json({
        type: 'form',
        form: {
            title: 'Hello, world!',
            icon: 'icon.png',
            fields: [
                {
                    type: 'text',
                    name: 'message',
                    label: 'message',
                },
            ],
            call: {
                path: '/send',
            },
        },
    });
});

Icons 

Apps may include static assets. One example that was already used above is the icon for the two bindings. Static assets must be served under the static path.

Download an example icon using:

curl https://github.com/mattermost/mattermost-plugin-apps/raw/master/examples/js/hello-world/icon.png -o icon.png

And then add another handler:

app.get('/static/icon.png', (req, res) => {
    res.sendFile(__dirname + '/icon.png');
});

Serving the data 

Finally, add the application logic that gets executed when either the slash command is run or the modal submitted:

app.post('/send/submit', async (req, res) => {
    const call = req.body;

    let message = 'Hello, world!';
    const submittedMessage = call.values.message;
    if (submittedMessage) {
        message += ' ...and ' + submittedMessage + '!';
    }

    const users = [
        call.context.bot_user_id,
        call.context.acting_user_id,
    ];

    // Use the app bot to do API calls
    const options = {
        method: 'POST',
        headers: {
            Authorization: 'BEARER ' + call.context.bot_access_token,
            'Content-Type': 'application/json',
        },
        body: JSON.stringify(users),
    };

    // Get the DM channel between the user and the bot
    const mattermostSiteURL = call.context.mattermost_site_url;

    const channel = await fetch(mattermostSiteURL + '/api/v4/channels/direct', options).
        then((res) => res.json())

    const post = {
        channel_id: channel.id,
        message,
    };

    // Create a post
    options.body = JSON.stringify(post);

    fetch(mattermostSiteURL + '/api/v4/posts', options);


    res.json({
        type: 'ok',
        markdown: 'Created a post in your DM channel.'
    });
});

The app is a simple HTTP server that serves the files you created above. The only application logic is in send, which takes the received "message" field and sends a message back to the user as the bot. Also, an ephemeral message is posted in the current channel.

Installing the app 

Run your app using:

node app.js

Then run the following slash commands on your Mattermost server:

/apps install http http://localhost:8080/manifest.json

Confirm the installation in the modal that pops up. You can insert any secret into the App secret field for now.

Using the app 

Select the “Hello World” channel header button in Mattermost, which brings up a modal:

image

Type testing and select Submit, you should see:

image

You can also use the /helloworld send command by typing /helloworld send --message Hi!. This posts the message to the Mattermost channel that you’re currently in.

image

Uninstalling the app 

Uninstall the app using:

/apps uninstall hello-world