Integrate your Slack with Swagger!

  August 20, 2015

Authors: Will Witman and Marsh Gardiner

Slack, one of the hottest startups today, is a messaging app for team communication. One reason Slack is so popular is because so many external services, like GitHub, Google Drive, Heroku, Jira, and many others, come as out-of-the-box integrations. But one exceptionally nice feature is how easy it is to create your own custom functionality.

Today, we'll walk you through creating your own Slack integration using swagger-node, which makes it easy to build, validate, and test an API project locally using Swagger and Node.js. You can later deploy the project to any Cloud platform that supports Node.js. In this case, we'll create an API to fetch a stock quote, which will then be posted directly into a Slack team conversation, using what Slack calls an "Incoming WebHook" integration.

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The back-end resource for this API will be /ticker, which you can cURL:

curl -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded" http://localhost:10010/ticker -d "text=AAPL

...and get back a nicely formatted response in Slack, like this:

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We will run and test the API locally; however, it can be deployed to any Cloud platform that supports Node.js, such as Apigee, AWS, or Heroku.

Before you begin

If you're going to try to do the steps outlined below, you must be a member of a Slack team or create a new one. In either case, you need to have permission to create integrations.

Get the sample swagger-node-slack app from GitHub

To make things extra-simple, you can download a working project:

  1. Download or clone the swagger-node-slack project on GitHub.
  2. cd to the root project directory swagger-node-slack.
  3. Execute this command to get the Node.js dependencies:npm install

Building the Ticker-bot integration

Let's walk through the steps for integrating the /ticker API with Slack. It's remarkably easy.

First, a quick peek under the hood

Let's take a quick look at the swagger-node-slack project.

(If you're not familiar with the swagger-node project structure, you can check out the docs and try the quick-start tutorial if you like.)

The key to understanding how the swagger-node-slack API works is to look at these two files:

  • ./swagger-node-slack/api/swagger/swagger.yaml -- This is the Swagger definition for the API. Note that it defines the paths, operations, and parameters for the service. You can use the built in Swagger editor to make changes withswagger project edit.

These entities tie directly to a corresponding controller file, described next.




# binds app logic to a route

x-swagger-router-controller: ticker


description: look up a stock price

# used as the method name of the controller

operationId: ticker


+ application/x-www-form-urlencoded


+ $ref: "#/parameters/text"

+ $ref: "#/parameters/user_name"

+ $ref: "#/parameters/icon_url"

+ $ref: "#/parameters/icon_emoji"

+ $ref: "#/parameters/channel"



description: Success

# responses may fall through to errors


description: Error


$ref: "#/definitions/ErrorResponse"


  • ./swagger-node-slack/api/controllers/ticker.js -- This is a controller file. It implements the logic that is executed for a specific API path (or route). In the swagger.yaml file, the x-swagger-router-controller attribute specifies the name of the controller file (the .js is not needed). The operationId specifies the name of the function to call when the /ticker path is requested. So, for this API, when you call the /ticker API, it executes a function calledticker() in a controller file called ticker.js.Here's the controller code. The value of the URL variable comes from Slack. When the request arrives at the server, it's automatically classified by the Swagger specification, and the swagger-node project makes it easy to access the structure of the incoming request. For example, to access the value of a defined parameter called "text", you could use req.swagger.params.text.value. Here it is in the controller code:

    var util = require('util');

    var request = require('request');

    var googleStocks = require('google-stocks');

    module.exports = {

    ticker: ticker


    //var URL = "";

    function ticker(req, res) {

    var symbol = req.swagger.params.text.value.toUpperCase();

    googleStocks.get([symbol], function(error, data) {

    console.log(symbol+": "+data[0].l);

    var text = symbol+" is now $"+data[0].l+" per share.\nThanks for asking, @"+req.swagger.params.user_name.value+"!";{ url:URL, body:{"text":text}, json:true});




Create the Slack integration

Now, on the Slack side, we have to create and configure the integration.

  1. Log in to your Slack account.
  2. From your Slack team menu, choose Configure Integrations.alt text
  3. Scroll down to DYI Integrations & Customizations and click Incoming WebHooks.
  4. In Post to Channel, select the channel to post the API response to. In other words, whenever someone calls the Ticker-bot, a stock price is posted to this channel for everyone to see.
  5. Click Add Incoming WebHooks Integration.
  6. Review the setup instructions if you wish. We're mostly interested in the WebHook URL.
  7. Copy the WebHook URL.Hint: This is the URL you need to add to the controller file. It looks something like this:";
  8. In the Customize Name field, change the default name to "Ticker-bot". This is the name that will appear in posts to Slack.
  9. Use the Customize Icon UI to pick an emoji that will appear in the Slack posts.

Edit the controller

Finally, let's add that WebHook URL to the ticker.js controller file.

  1. Open the file swagger-node-slack/api/controllers/ticker.js in a text editor.
  2. Locate this variable and uncomment it:var URL = " URL";
  3. Replace the value of the URL variable with the Webhook URL. For example (be sure to use your URL, not this one!):var URL = "";
  4. Save the file.

Try it!

A nice thing about projects built with swagger-node is that you can build and test them locally on the built-in HTTP server. Let's try out our new Ticker-bot!

Remember, with an Incoming WebHooks integration, the idea is to send a message FROM another service INTO a Slack channel.

  1. cd to the swagger-node-slack directory.
  2. If you haven't done so previously, execute this command to update the Node.js dependencies:npm install
  3. Start the project:swagger project start
  4. In another terminal window, call the API, like this...curl -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded" http://localhost:10010/ticker -d "text=AAPL&user_name=Will"...and you get back a nicely formatted response in your Slack session, like this:

    alt text

What happened?

We've seen how easy it is to create a Slack WebHooks Integration command with a swagger-node back-end API. The API proxied a request to a stock price service and posted the response back to Slack via a Slack WebHook Integration. Slack retrieved the response and printed it to the chat window.

What next?

Another cool Slack integration is the "Slash Command". Slack Slash commands let you execute a function by entering it directly in a Slack conversation.

If you'd like to see a Slash command example with swagger-node, jump over to the swagger-node-slack project, where you'll find an extended version of this blog tutorial. The Slash command example builds a command that reverses whatever text you provide. It includes token validation and steps for deploying your API to the Cloud.

So, you can do something like this in Slack...

/reverse The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

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... and Slack returns the letters in reverse:

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