Category: Hubot

He Shoots .. He Fails !!

For the past 6 months I have been working on a lean startup .. It was (<<infer all you want here) a chatbot interface for a financial services CRM — and did not end well ūüė¶ That said, I did some of my best Ansible/AWS work and my server-side JavaScript (Node.js) and understanding of the Hubot internals improved exponentially ..

So I want to share !!

I can’t get into too many details, but the overall concept was that every customer would be running a micro instance with our custom Hubot code installed .. This instance would pull code updates, if any, every 5 minutes and infrastructure updates, if any, every 15 minutes .. ¬†In addition, a customer could participate in pilot programs — AKA branch work ..

I really liked how I was able to mitigate the use of a “command node” and just run Ansible locally and on a schedule .. Also, I was able to automate pretty much everything — from VPC creation all the way to autoscaling groups ..

Anyway, here’s the link:¬† .. Maybe it will help one of you out there in Internets land ..


Hubot with Handlebars :-3

So you’ve met Hal¬†— he’s my bud ..¬†That said,¬†I’ve never been a fan of how I “reply” to Hubot commands .. For example:

“Greg, what’s your problem ??¬†Hal brings you beer !!” .. True, true .. But I want more !! I want to be more like my developer friends and apply an MVC¬†design pattern¬†to my Hubot development .. Specifically, I want my “views” to be beautiful and maintainable, while having the ability to use complex data “models” ..

Hello Handlebars !! Long story short, I can easily build semantic templates, compile output, and send as a Hubot reply .. For example:

Here’s the template:

Here’s the Slack output:

Make Everyone Talk to Hal !!

Hal is my Hubot chatbot .. He’s awesome !!¬†He¬†gets me beer !!

hal beer me

hal beer me

He also does things like restart app servers, deploy code, and show me pictures of grumpy cats ..¬†He’s so cool, I’ve started making¬†non-humans to talk to him .. “Greg, what do you mean¬†??” .. Well, let me¬†show you¬†..


  1. I have a Nagios server
  2. It monitors (allthethings)
  3. When the “logged in users”¬†alert is triggered, Nagios¬†sends a message to my chat service using hipsaint
    1. “logged in users” is a monitor I have that alerts me when more than 3¬†users are logged into a¬†server
  4. I see the alert and the server in question
  5. I SSH into the server
  6. I type who
  7. I then determine if I need to care
    1. If not, move on with my life
    2. If so, dig deeper

The thing is, I have more than 2,200 active monitors ..¬†That means Nagios can and will send many, many¬†messages to my chat service¬†— depending on the day .. So how can I make my life easier ??

Here’s an easy one:¬†ask Hal who’s on a server ..

hal whos on

hal whos on


hal whos on

hal whos on

My stack is HipChat -> Hubot -> Jenkins -> Ansible .. That means I can damn near do anything I want, all from my chat client ..

Remember what I said earlier —¬†about making non-humans talk to Hal ?? What I did was¬†create a Nagios event handler that¬†sends a message to my chat service using HipChat CLI¬†.. Therefore,¬†I AM NOT asking Hal who’s on a server, it’s NAGIOS WHO IS¬†doing it ..

nagios hal whos on

nagios hal whos on

It doesn’t stop there !!¬†You can create scripted Splunk alerts as well .. Before you know it, you will be making (allthethings) talk to Hal ..

Reusable Hubot Event Listener to Build Jenkins Jobs

Jenkins¬†(thank you CloudBees¬†!!) is my chosen automation platform, often triggering an Ansible playbook¬†(thank you Michael !!) to automate some mundane task .. ¬†I also use HipChat and have implemented a Hubot¬†(thank you GitHub !!) chatbot .. Wouldn’t it be nice to integrate it all¬†?? For example, in HipChat:

@hal restart tomcat in dev
  1. Which Hubot recognizes
  2. Who then builds a Jenkins job
  3. Which then executes some Ansible playbook
  4. Which then restarts Tomcat in the development environment

Actually, it’s not that difficult .. For this post, I won’t go into the details on how to setup Hubot (this might help) or how to restart the¬†Tomcat service (this might help) .. What I am most interested in is how to:

  1. Create a reusable way to build any Jenkins job
    • Since Hubot is a Node.js application, an event listener sounds logical
  2. Invoke this reusable way
    • i.e. event trigger

Here is an example of a Hubot event listener that can build a Jenkins job with or without parameters ..

Here is an example of a Hubot command that can trigger the previously defined event listener ..

I hope this helps !!