Slack SDK for Java

Bolt Basics

Bolt for Java is a framework on the JVM that offers an abstraction layer to build Slack apps quickly using modern platform features.

This guide covers all the basics of Bolt app development. If you’re not yet familiar with Slack app development in general, we recommend reading An introduction to Slack apps.

Start with the App class

The App class is a place to write only essential parts of your Slack app without being bothered by trifles.

The code configuring an App instance mainly consists of the ways to respond to incoming events from Slack such as user actions, command invocations, requests to load options in select menus, and any events you subscribe to in the Events API.

import com.slack.api.bolt.App;

App app = new App();
app.command("/echo", (req, ctx) -> {
  return ctx.ack(req.getText());

Dispatching Events

Here is the list of the available methods to dispatch events.

Method Constraints (value: type) Description
app.event event type: Class<Event> Events API: Responds to any kinds of bot/user events you subscribe.
app.message keyword: String | Pattern Events API: Responds to messages posted by a user only when the text in messages matches the given keyword or regular expressions.
app.command command name: String | Pattern Slash Commands: Responds to slash command invocations in the workspace.
app.blockAction action_id: String | Pattern Interactive Components: Responds to user actions (e.g., click a button, choose an item from select menus, radio buttons, etc.) in blocks. These events can be triggered in all the surfaces (messages, modals, and Home tabs).
app.blockSuggestion action_id: String | Pattern Interactive Components: Responds to user actions to input a keyword (the length needs to be the min_query_length or longer) in select menus (external data source).
app.viewSubmission callback_id: String | Pattern Modals: Responds to data submissions in modals.
app.viewClosed callback_id: String | Pattern Modals: Responds to the events where users close modals by clicking Cancel buttons. The notify_on_close has to be true when opening/pushing the modal.
app.globalShortcut callback_id: String | Pattern Shortcuts: Responds to global shortcut invocations.
app.messageShortcut callback_id: String | Pattern Shortcuts: Responds to shortcut invocations in message menus.
app.dialogSubmission callback_id: String | Pattern Dialogs: Responds to data submissions in dialogs.
app.dialogSuggestion callback_id: String | Pattern Dialogs: Responds to requests to load options for "external" typed select menus in dialogs.
app.dialogCancellation callback_id String | Pattern Dialogs: Responds to the events where users close dialogs by clicking Cancel buttons.
app.attachmentAction callback_id: String | Pattern Legacy Messaging: Responds to user actions in attachments. These events can be triggered in only messages.

Development Guides by Feature

On these guide pages, you’ll find a more concrete example code for each.

Acknowledge Incoming Requests

Actions, commands, and options events must always be acknowledged using the ack() method. All such utility methods are available as the instance methods of a Context object.

app.command("/hello", (req, ctx) -> { // ctx: Context
  return ctx.ack(); // empty body, that means your bot won't post a reply this time

If your app replies to a user action, you can pass a message text to the ack() method.

app.command("/ping", (req, ctx) -> {
  return ctx.ack(":wave: pong");

It’s also possible to use Block Kit to make messages more interactive.

import static com.slack.api.model.block.Blocks.*;
import static com.slack.api.model.block.composition.BlockCompositions.*;
import static com.slack.api.model.block.element.BlockElements.*;

app.command("/ping", (req, ctx) -> {
  return ctx.ack(asBlocks(
    section(section -> section.text(markdownText(":wave: pong"))),
    actions(actions -> actions
        button(b -> b.actionId("ping-again").text(plainText(pt -> pt.text("Ping"))).value("ping"))

By default, the reply will be sent as an ephemeral message. To send a message visible to everyone, use "in_channel" type.

app.command("/ping", (req, ctx) -> {
  return ctx.ack(res -> res.responseType("in_channel").text(":wave: pong"));

Since your app always has to return ctx.ack() result within 3 seconds, you may want to asynchronously execute time-consuming parts in your listener. The easiest way to do this would be to use app.executorService(), which is the singleton ExecutorService instance that Bolt framework provides.

app.globalShortcut("callback-id", (req, ctx) -> {
  // Using the default singleton thread pool
  app.executorService().submit(() -> {
    // Do anything asynchronously here
    try {
      ctx.client().viewsOpen(r -> r
    } catch (Exception e) {
      // Error handling
  // This line will be synchronously executed
  return ctx.ack();

If you want to take full control of the ExecutorService to use, you don’t need to use app.executorService(). You can go with the preferable way to manage asynchronous code execution for your app.

Respond to User Actions

Are you already familiar with response_url? If not, we recommend reading this guide first.

As the guide says, some of the user interaction payloads may contain a response_url. This response_url is unique to each payload, and can be used to publish messages back to the place where the interaction happened.

Similarly to ack()above, the Context object offers respond() method for easily taking advantage of response_url.

import com.slack.api.webhook.WebhookResponse;

app.command("/hello", (req, ctx) -> {
  // Post a message via response_url
  WebhookResponse result = ctx.respond(res -> res
    .responseType("ephemeral") // or "in_channel"
    .text("Hi there!") // blocks, attachments are also available
  return ctx.ack(); // ack() here doesn't post a message

Use Web APIs / Reply using say utility

When you need to call some Slack Web APIs in Bolt apps, use ctx.client() for it. The MethodsClient created by the method already holds a valid bot token. So, you don’t need to give a token to it. Just calling a method with parameters as below works for you.

app.command("/hello", (req, ctx) -> {
  // ctx.client() holds a valid bot token
  ChatPostMessageResponse response = ctx.client().chatPostMessage(r -> r
    .text(":wave: How are you?")
  return ctx.ack();

For chat.postMessage API calls with the given channel ID, using say() utility is much simpler. If your slash command needs to be available anywhere, using ctx.respond would be more robust as say() method does not work for the conversations where the app’s bot user is not a member of (e.g., a person’s own DM).

app.command("/hello", (req, ctx) -> {
  ChatPostMessageResponse response = ctx.say(":wave: How are you?");
  return ctx.ack();

In the case to use a user token over a bot token, overwriting the token by giving a user token as an argument works.


app.command("/my-search", (req, ctx) -> {
  String query = req.getPayload().getText();
  if (query == null || query.trim().length() == 0) {
    return ctx.ack("Please give some query.");

  String userToken = ctx.getRequestUserToken(); // enabling InstallationService required
  if (userToken != null) {
    SearchMessagesResponse response = ctx.client().searchMessages(r -> r
      .token(userToken) // Overwrite underlying bot token with the given user token
    if (response.isOk()) {
      String reply = response.getMessages().getTotal() + " results found for " + query;
      return ctx.ack(reply);
    } else {
      String reply = "Failed to search by " + query + " (error: " + response.getError() + ")";
      return ctx.ack(reply);
  } else {
    return ctx.ack("Please allow this Slack app to run search queries for you.");

Use Logger

You can access SLF4J logger in Context objects.

app.command("/weather", (req, ctx) -> {
  String keyword = req.getPayload().getText();
  String userId = req.getPayload().getUserId();"Weather search by keyword: {} for user: {}", keyword, userId);
  return ctx.ack(weatherService.find(keyword).toMessage());

If you use the ch.qos.logback:logback-classic library as the implementation of the APIs, you can configure the settings by logback.xml etc.

  <appender name="default" class="ch.qos.logback.core.ConsoleAppender">
      <pattern>%date %level [%thread] %logger{64} %msg%n</pattern>
  <root level="debug">
    <appender-ref ref="default"/>


Bolt offers chaining middleware supports. You can customize App behavior by weaving a kind of filter to all events.

Here is an example demonstrating how it works. The middleware changes your app’s behavior in error patterns only when SLACK_APP_DEBUG_MODE env variable exists.

import com.slack.api.bolt.App;
import com.slack.api.bolt.response.Response;
import com.slack.api.bolt.util.JsonOps;
import java.util.Arrays;
import static;

class DebugResponseBody {
  String responseType; // ephemeral, in_channel
  String text;
String debugMode = System.getenv("SLACK_APP_DEBUG_MODE");

App app = new App();

if (debugMode != null && debugMode.equals("1")) { // enable only when SLACK_APP_DEBUG_MODE=1
  app.use((req, _resp, chain) -> {
    Response resp =;
    if (resp.getStatusCode() != 200) {
      resp.getHeaders().put("content-type", Arrays.asList(resp.getContentType()));
      // dump all the headers as a single string
      String headers = resp.getHeaders().entrySet().stream()
        .map(e -> e.getKey() +  ": " + e.getValue() + "\n").collect(joining());

      // set an ephemeral message with useful information
      DebugResponseBody body = new DebugResponseBody();
      body.responseType = "ephemeral";
      body.text =
        ":warning: *[DEBUG MODE] Something is technically wrong* :warning:\n" +
        "Below is a response the Slack app was going to send...\n" +
        "*Status Code*: " + resp.getStatusCode() + "\n" +
        "*Headers*: ```" + headers + "```" + "\n" +
        "*Body*: ```" + resp.getBody() + "```";

    return resp;

The middleware transforms an unsuccessful response such as 404 Not Found to a 200 OK response with an ephemeral message that tells useful information for debugging.

Order of Execution in Middleware List

A set of the built-in middleware precedes your custom middleware. So, if the app detects something in built-in ones and stops calling, succeeding ones won’t be executed.

The most common would be the case where a request has been denied by RequestVerification middleware. After the denial, any middleware won’t be executed, so that the above middleware also doesn’t work for the case.

Customize the Built-in Middleware List

Bolt turns the following middleware on by default:

Although we generally do not recommend disabling these middleware as they are commonly necessary, you can disable them using the flags like ignoringSelfEventsEnabled in AppConfig objects.

AppConfig appConfig = new AppConfig();

appConfig.setIgnoringSelfEventsEnabled(false); // the default is true
appConfig.setSslCheckEnabled(false); // the default is true

// Please don't do this without an alternative solution
appConfig.setRequestVerificationEnabled(false); // the default is true

App app = new App(appConfig);

Make sure if it’s safe enough when you turn a built-in middleware off. We strongly recommend using RequestVerification for better security. If you have a proxy that verifies request signature in front of the Bolt app, it’s totally fine to disable RequestVerification to avoid duplication of work. Don’t turn it off just for easiness of development.

Supported Web Frameworks

Refer to this page for more details.


We’re planning to have some guide documents for deployments.