Slack SDK for Java

Modals

Modals are a focused surface to collect data from users or display dynamic and interactive information. To users, modals appear as focused surfaces inside of Slack enabling brief, yet deep interactions with apps. Modals can be assembled using the visual and interactive components found in Block Kit.

Slack App Configuration

The first step to use modals in your app is to enable Interactive Components. Visit the Slack App configuration page, choose the app you’re working on, and go to Features > Interactivity & Shortcuts on the left pane. There are three things to do on the page.

  • Turn on the feature
  • Set the Request URL to https://{your app's public URL domain}/slack/events
  • Click the Save Changes button at the bottom for sure

What Your Bolt App Does

There are three patterns to handle on modals. As always, your app has to respond to the request within 3 seconds by ack() method. Otherwise, the user will see the timeout error on Slack.

"block_actions" requests

When someone uses an interactive component in your app’s modal views, the app will receive a block_actions payload. All you need to do to handle the "block_actions" requests are:

  1. Verify requests from Slack
  2. Parse the request body, and check if the type is "block_actions" and the action_id in a block is the one you’d like to handle
  3. Modify/push a view via API and/or update the modal to hold the sent data as private_metadata
  4. Respond to the Slack API server with 200 OK as an acknowledgment

"view_submission" requests

When a modal view is submitted, you’ll receive a view_submission payload. All you need to do to handle the "view_submission" requests are:

  1. Verify requests from Slack
  2. Parse the request body, and check if the type is "view_submission" and the callback_id is the one you’d like to handle
  3. Extract the form data from view.state.values
  4. Do whatever to do such as input validations, storing them in a database, talking to external services
  5. Respond with 200 OK as the acknowledgment by either of the followings:
    • Sending an empty body means closing only the modal
    • Sending a body with response_action (possible values are "errors", "update", "push", "clear")

"view_closed" requests (only when notify_on_close is true)

Your app can optionally receive view_closed payloads whenever a user clicks on the Cancel or x buttons. These buttons are standard, not blocks, in all app modals. To receive the "view_closed" payload when this happens, set notify_on_close to true when creating a view with views.open and views.push methods. All you need to do to handle the "view_closed" requests are:

  1. Verify requests from Slack
  2. Parse the request body, and check if the type is "view_closed" and the callback_id is the one you’d like to handle
  3. Do whatever to do at the timing
  4. Respond with 200 OK as the acknowledgment

In general, there are a few things to know when working with modals. They would be:

  • You need trigger_id in user interaction payloads to open a modal view
  • Only the inputs in "type": "input" blocks will be included in view_submission’s view.state.values
  • Each input/selection in non-"input" typed blocks such as "section", "actions" is sent as a "block_actions" request
  • You use callback_id to identify a modal, a pair of block_id and action_id to identify each input in view.state.values
  • You can use view.private_metadata to hold the internal state and/or "block_actions" results on the modal
  • You respond to "view_submission" requests with response_action to determine the next state of a modal
  • views.update and views.push API methods are supposed to be used when receiving "block_actions" requests in modals, NOT for "view_submission" requests

Examples

NOTE: If you’re a beginner to using Bolt for Slack App development, consult Getting Started with Bolt, first. Let’s start with opening a modal. Let’s say, we’re going to open the following modal.

{
  "type": "modal",
  "callback_id": "meeting-arrangement",
  "notify_on_close": true,
  "title": { "type": "plain_text", "text": "Meeting Arrangement" },
  "submit": { "type": "plain_text", "text": "Submit" },
  "close": { "type": "plain_text", "text": "Cancel" },
  "private_metadata": "{\"response_url\":\"https://hooks.slack.com/actions/T1ABCD2E12/330361579271/0dAEyLY19ofpLwxqozy3firz\"}",
  "blocks": [
    {
      "type": "section",
      "block_id": "category-block",
      "text": { "type": "mrkdwn", "text": "Select a category of the meeting!" },
      "accessory": {
        "type": "static_select",
        "action_id": "category-selection-action",
        "placeholder": { "type": "plain_text", "text": "Select a category" },
        "options": [
          { "text": { "type": "plain_text", "text": "Customer" }, "value": "customer" },
          { "text": { "type": "plain_text", "text": "Partner" }, "value": "partner" },
          { "text": { "type": "plain_text", "text": "Internal" }, "value": "internal" }
        ]
      }
    },
    {
      "type": "input",
      "block_id": "agenda-block",
      "element": { "action_id": "agenda-action", "type": "plain_text_input", "multiline": true },
      "label": { "type": "plain_text", "text": "Detailed Agenda" }
    }
  ]
}

slack-api-client offers a smooth DSL for building blocks and views. The following code generates View objects in a type-safe way.

import com.slack.api.model.view.View;
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.*;
import static com.slack.api.model.view.Views.*;

View buildView() {
  return view(view -> view
    .callbackId("meeting-arrangement")
    .type("modal")
    .notifyOnClose(true)
    .title(viewTitle(title -> title.type("plain_text").text("Meeting Arrangement").emoji(true)))
    .submit(viewSubmit(submit -> submit.type("plain_text").text("Submit").emoji(true)))
    .close(viewClose(close -> close.type("plain_text").text("Cancel").emoji(true)))
    .privateMetadata("{\"response_url\":\"https://hooks.slack.com/actions/T1ABCD2E12/330361579271/0dAEyLY19ofpLwxqozy3firz\"}")
    .blocks(asBlocks(
      section(section -> section
        .blockId("category-block")
        .text(markdownText("Select a category of the meeting!"))
        .accessory(staticSelect(staticSelect -> staticSelect
          .actionId("category-selection-action")
          .placeholder(plainText("Select a category"))
          .options(asOptions(
            option(plainText("Customer"), "customer"),
            option(plainText("Partner"), "partner"),
            option(plainText("Internal"), "internal")
          ))
        ))
      ),
      input(input -> input
        .blockId("agenda-block")
        .element(plainTextInput(pti -> pti.actionId("agenda-action").multiline(true)))
        .label(plainText(pt -> pt.text("Detailed Agenda").emoji(true)))
      )
    ))
  );
}

If you need to carry some information to the modal, setting private_metadata is a good way for it. The private_metadata is a single string with a maximum of 3000 characters. So, if you have multiple values, you need to serialize them into a string in a format.

import com.slack.api.bolt.util.JsonOps;

class PrivateMetadata {
  String responseUrl;
  String commandArgument;
}

app.command("/meeting", (req, ctx) -> {
  PrivateMetadata data = new PrivateMetadata();
  data.responseUrl = ctx.getResponseUrl();
  data.commandArgument = req.getPayload().getText();

  return view(view -> view.callbackId("meeting-arrangement")
    .type("modal")
    .notifyOnClose(true)
    .privateMetadata(JsonOps.toJsonString(data))
    // omitted ...

A trigger_id is required to open a modal. You can access it in payloads sent by user interactions such as slash command invocations, clicking a button. In Bolt, you can acquire the value by calling Request.getPayload().getTriggerId() as it’s a part of payloads. More easily, it’s also possible to get it by Context.getTriggerId(). These methods are defined only when trigger_id exists in a payload.

import com.slack.api.methods.response.views.ViewsOpenResponse;

app.command("/meeting", (req, ctx) -> {
  ViewsOpenResponse viewsOpenRes = ctx.client().viewsOpen(r -> r
    .triggerId(ctx.getTriggerId())
    .view(buildView()));
  if (viewsOpenRes.isOk()) return ctx.ack();
  else return Response.builder().statusCode(500).body(viewsOpenRes.getError()).build();
});

The same code in Kotlin looks as below. (New to Kotlin? Getting Started in Kotlin may be helpful)

app.command("/meeting") { req, ctx ->
  val res = ctx.client().viewsOpen { it
    .triggerId(ctx.triggerId)
    .view(buildView())
  }
  if (res.isOk) ctx.ack()
  else Response.builder().statusCode(500).body(res.error).build()
}

In Kotlin, it’s much easier to embed multi-line string data in source code. It may be handier to use viewAsString(String) method instead.

// Build a view using string interpolation
val commandArg = req.payload.text
val modalView = """
{
  "type": "modal",
  "callback_id": "meeting-arrangement",
  "notify_on_close": true,
  "title": { "type": "plain_text", "text": "Meeting Arrangement" },
  "submit": { "type": "plain_text", "text": "Submit" },
  "close": { "type": "plain_text", "text": "Cancel" },
  "private_metadata": "${commandArg}"
  "blocks": [
    {
      "type": "input",
      "block_id": "agenda-block",
      "element": { "action_id": "agenda-action", "type": "plain_text_input", "multiline": true },
      "label": { "type": "plain_text", "text": "Detailed Agenda" }
    }
  ]
}
""".trimIndent()

val res = ctx.client().viewsOpen { it
  .triggerId(ctx.triggerId)
  .viewAsString(modalView)
}

Alternatively, you can use the Block Kit DSL in conjunction with the Java Builder to construct your view. The Java example above would look like this in Kotlin:

import com.slack.api.model.kotlin_extension.view.blocks
import com.slack.api.model.view.Views.*

fun buildView(): View {
  return view { thisView -> thisView
  .callbackId("meeting-arrangement")
    .type("modal")
    .notifyOnClose(true)
    .title(viewTitle { it.type("plain_text").text("Meeting Arrangement").emoji(true) })
    .submit(viewSubmit { it.type("plain_text").text("Submit").emoji(true) })
    .close(viewClose { it.type("plain_text").text("Cancel").emoji(true) })
    .privateMetadata("""{"response_url":"https://hooks.slack.com/actions/T1ABCD2E12/330361579271/0dAEyLY19ofpLwxqozy3firz"}""")
    .blocks {
      // You can leverage Kotlin DSL here
      section {
        blockId("category-block")
        markdownText("Select a category of the meeting!")
        staticSelect {
          actionId("category-selection-action")
          placeholder("Select a category")
          options {
            option {
              description("Customer")
              value("customer")
            }
            option {
              description("Partner")
              value("partner")
            }
            option {
              description("Internal")
              value("internal")
            }
          }
        }
      }
      input {
        blockId("agenda-block")
        plainTextInput {
          actionId("agenda-action")
          multiline(true)
        }
        label("Detailed Agenda", emoji = true)
      }
    }
  }
}

"block_actions" requests

Basically it’s the same with Interactive Components but the only difference is that a payload coming from a modal has view and also its private_metadata

import com.google.gson.Gson;
import com.slack.api.model.view.View;
import com.slack.api.model.view.ViewState;
import com.slack.api.methods.response.views.ViewsUpdateResponse;
import com.slack.api.util.json.GsonFactory;
import java.util.Map;

View buildViewByCategory(String categoryId, String privateMetadata) {
  Gson gson = GsonFactory.createSnakeCase();
  Map<String, String> metadata = gson.fromJson(privateMetadata, Map.class);
  metadata.put("categoryId", categoryId);
  String updatedPrivateMetadata = gson.toJson(metadata);
  return view(view -> view
    .callbackId("meeting-arrangement")
    .type("modal")
    .notifyOnClose(true)
    .title(viewTitle(title -> title.type("plain_text").text("Meeting Arrangement").emoji(true)))
    .submit(viewSubmit(submit -> submit.type("plain_text").text("Submit").emoji(true)))
    .close(viewClose(close -> close.type("plain_text").text("Cancel").emoji(true)))
    .privateMetadata(updatedPrivateMetadata)
    .blocks(asBlocks(
      section(section -> section.blockId("category-block").text(markdownText("You've selected \"" + categoryId + "\""))),
      input(input -> input
        .blockId("agenda-block")
        .element(plainTextInput(pti -> pti.actionId("agenda-action").multiline(true)))
        .label(plainText(pt -> pt.text("Detailed Agenda").emoji(true)))
      )
    ))
  );
}

app.blockAction("category-selection-action", (req, ctx) -> {
  String categoryId = req.getPayload().getActions().get(0).getSelectedOption().getValue();
  View currentView = req.getPayload().getView();
  String privateMetadata = currentView.getPrivateMetadata();
  View viewForTheCategory = buildViewByCategory(categoryId, privateMetadata);
  ViewsUpdateResponse viewsUpdateResp = ctx.client().viewsUpdate(r -> r
    .viewId(currentView.getId())
    .hash(currentView.getHash())
    .view(viewForTheCategory)
  );
  return ctx.ack();
});

It looks like below in Kotlin.

app.blockAction("category-selection-action") { req, ctx ->
  val categoryId = req.payload.actions[0].selectedOption.value
  val currentView = req.payload.view
  val privateMetadata = currentView.privateMetadata
  val viewForTheCategory = buildViewByCategory(categoryId, privateMetadata)
  val viewsUpdateResp = ctx.client().viewsUpdate { it
    .viewId(currentView.id)
    .hash(currentView.hash)
    .view(viewForTheCategory)
  }
  ctx.ack()
}

"view_submission" requests

Bolt does many of the commonly required tasks for you. The steps you need to handle would be:

  • Specify the callback_id to handle (by either of the exact name or regular expression)
  • Do whatever to do such as input validations, storing them in a database, talking to external services
  • Call ack() as an acknowledgment with either of the followings:
    • Sending an empty body means closing only the modal
    • Sending a body with response_action (possible values are "errors", "update", "push", "clear")
import com.slack.api.model.view.ViewState;
import java.util.*;

// when a user clicks "Submit"
app.viewSubmission("meeting-arrangement", (req, ctx) -> {
  String privateMetadata = req.getPayload().getView().getPrivateMetadata();
  Map<String, Map<String, ViewState.Value>> stateValues = req.getPayload().getView().getState().getValues();
  String agenda = stateValues.get("agenda-block").get("agenda-action").getValue();
  Map<String, String> errors = new HashMap<>();
  if (agenda.length() <= 10) {
    errors.put("agenda-block", "Agenda needs to be longer than 10 characters.");
  }
  if (!errors.isEmpty()) {
    return ctx.ack(r -> r.responseAction("errors").errors(errors));
  } else {
    // TODO: may store the stateValues and privateMetadata
    // Responding with an empty body means closing the modal now.
    // If your app has next steps, respond with other response_action and a modal view.
    return ctx.ack();
  }
});

It looks like below in Kotlin.

// when a user clicks "Submit"
app.viewSubmission("meeting-arrangement") { req, ctx ->
  val privateMetadata = req.payload.view.privateMetadata
  val stateValues = req.payload.view.state.values
  val agenda = stateValues["agenda-block"]!!["agenda-action"]!!.value
  val errors = mutableMapOf<String, String>()
  if (agenda.length <= 10) {
    errors["agenda-block"] = "Agenda needs to be longer than 10 characters."
  }
  if (errors.isNotEmpty()) {
    ctx.ack { it.responseAction("errors").errors(errors) }
  } else {
    // TODO: may store the stateValues and privateMetadata
    // Responding with an empty body means closing the modal now.
    // If your app has next steps, respond with other response_action and a modal view.
    ctx.ack()
  }
}

If you respond with "response_action": "update" or "push", response_action and view are required in the response body.

ctx.ack(r -> r.responseAction("update").view(renewedView));
ctx.ack(r -> r.responseAction("push").view(newViewInStack));

It looks like below in Kotlin.

ctx.ack { it.responseAction("update").view(renewedView) }
ctx.ack { it.responseAction("push").view(newViewInStack) }

Publishing Messages After Modal Submissions

view_submission payloads don’t have response_url by default. However, if you have an input block asking users a channel to post a message, payloads may provide response_urls (List<ResponseUrl> responseUrls in Java).

To enable this, set the block element type as either channels_select or conversations_select and add "response_url_enabled": true. Refer to the API document for details.

Also, if you want to automatically set the channel a user is viewing when opening a modal toinitial_conversation(s), turn default_to_current_conversation on in conversations_select / multi_conversations_select elements.

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.*;
import static com.slack.api.model.view.Views.*;

View modalView = view(v -> v
  .type("modal")
  .callbackId("request-modal")
  .submit(viewSubmit(vs -> vs.type("plain_text").text("Start")))
  .blocks(asBlocks(
    section(s -> s
      .text(plainText("The channel we'll post the result"))
      .accessory(conversationsSelect(conv -> conv
        .actionId("notification_conv_id")
        .responseUrlEnabled(true)
        .defaultToCurrentConversation(true)
      ))
    )
)));

"view_closed" requests (only when notify_on_close is true)

Bolt does many of the commonly required tasks for you. The steps you need to handle would be:

  • Specify the callback_id to handle (by either of the exact name or regular expression)
  • Do whatever to do at the timing
  • Call ack() as an acknowledgment
// when a user clicks "Cancel"
// "notify_on_close": true is required
app.viewClosed("meeting-arrangement", (req, ctx) -> {
  // Do some cleanup tasks
  return ctx.ack();
});

It looks like below in Kotlin.

// when a user clicks "Cancel"
// "notify_on_close": true is required
app.viewClosed("meeting-arrangement") { req, ctx ->
  // Do some cleanup tasks
  ctx.ack()
}

Under the Hood

If you hope to understand what is actually happening with the above code, reading the following (a bit pseudo) code may be helpful.

import java.util.Map;
import com.google.gson.Gson;
import com.slack.api.Slack;
import com.slack.api.app_backend.interactive_components.payload.BlockActionPayload;
import com.slack.api.app_backend.interactive_components.payload.BlockSuggestionPayload;
import com.slack.api.app_backend.views.payload.ViewSubmissionPayload;
import com.slack.api.app_backend.views.payload.ViewClosedPayload;
import com.slack.api.app_backend.util.JsonPayloadExtractor;
import com.slack.api.app_backend.util.JsonPayloadTypeDetector;
import com.slack.api.util.json.GsonFactory;

PseudoHttpResponse handle(PseudoHttpRequest request) {
  // 1. Verify requests from Slack
  // https://api.slack.com/docs/verifying-requests-from-slack
  // This needs "X-Slack-Signature" header, "X-Slack-Request-Timestamp" header, and raw request body
  if (!PseudoSlackRequestVerifier.isValid(request)) {
    return PseudoHttpResponse.builder().status(401).build();
  }
  // 2. Parse the request body and check the type, callback_id, action_id
  // payload={URL-encoded JSON} in the request body
  JsonPayloadExtractor payloadExtractor = new JsonPayloadExtractor();
  String payloadString = payloadExtractor.extractIfExists(request.getBodyAsString());
  // The value looks like: { "type": "block_actions", "team": { "id": "T1234567", ...
  JsonPayloadTypeDetector typeDetector = new JsonPayloadTypeDetector();
  String payloadType = typeDetector.detectType(payloadString);

  Gson gson = GsonFactory.createSnakeCase();
  if (payloadType != null && payloadType.equals("view_submission")) {
    ViewSubmissionPayload payload = gson.fromJson(payloadString, ViewSubmissionPayload.class);
    if (payload.getCallbackId().equals("meeting-arrangement")) {
      // 3. Extract the form data from view.state.values
      // 4. Do whatever to do such as input validations, storing them in database, talking to external services
      // 5. Respond to the Slack API server with 200 OK as an acknowledgment
    }
  } else if (payloadType != null && payloadType.equals("view_closed")) {
    ViewClosedPayload payload = gson.fromJson(payloadString, ViewClosedPayload.class);
    if (payload.getCallbackId().equals("meeting-arrangement")) {
      // 3. Do whatever to do at the timing
      // 4. Respond to the Slack API server with 200 OK as an acknowledgment
    }
  } else if (payloadType != null && payloadType.equals("block_actions")) {
    BlockActionPayload payload = gson.fromJson(payloadString, BlockActionPayload.class);
    if (payload.getCallbackId().equals("meeting-arrangement")) {
      if (payload.getActionId().equals("category-selection-action")) {
        // 3. Modify/push a view via API and/or update the modal to hold the sent data as private_metadata
        // 4. Respond to the Slack API server with 200 OK as an acknowledgment
      }
    }
  } else if (payloadType != null && payloadType.equals("block_suggestion")) {
    BlockSuggestionPayload payload = gson.fromJson(payloadString, BlockSuggestionPayload.class);
    if (payload.getCallbackId().equals("meeting-arrangement")) {
      if (payload.getActionId().equals("category-selection-action")) {
        List<Option> options = buildOptions(payload.getValue());
        // Return a successful response having `options` in its body
        return PseudoHttpResponse.builder().body(Map.of("options", options)).status(200).build();
      }
    }
  } else {
    // other patterns
    return PseudoHttpResponse.builder().status(404).build();
  }
}