All your data are belong

April 22, 2019 by @devth

In the last few months we've been working on including raw data in command responses in addition to the formatted lossy-but-human-friendly derived value.

This lets us display the formatted values by default without giving up the full data in the process, and affords the user the option of tapping into these data using a few special commands that know how to access them.

The primary data-aware commands are:

!help data
!help clj
!help render

as well as most of the collection utilities, which simply propagate the correct data across the pipe (i.e. do what you'd expect them to).

!category list collection


Having the data available means we can reference any piece of the shape instead of the default human-friendly representation. One way to do this is with the clj command, thanks to an awesome idea by one of our newest contributors, @justone, to make the data available to clj (he also contributed the cljquote command which we'll use to demo this idea).


First, let's use data to get at the data itself, then pass that over to keys to see what's available:

!cljquote | data | keys

Then, with this information we can extract just the piece we're interested in:

!cljquote | clj (:clojure-quotes.core/text data)

Notice how clj can access the data from the pipe as a special var named data. This puts the full power of the Clojure language at your disposal for slicing or transforming data from commands as you see fit.


The data command provides a way to pretty print all the data or get at a specific subset using json-path syntax.

!help data

Let's peak at the data behind a Tweet:

!twitter display 1095377246494220288 | data show

And get an abbreviated view looking only at its keys:

!twitter display 1095377246494220288 | data | keys

These data represent a retweet with comment. Let's use data to select the full text of the original tweet:

!twitter display 1095377246494220288 | data $.quoted_status.full_text

We could do the same with clj using pure Clojure functions:

!twitter display 1095377246494220288 | clj (get-in data [:quoted_status :full_text])

And if we wanted to render multiple properties of the retweet, we could combine data and render:

!twitter display 1095377246494220288 | data $.quoted_status | render {{full_text}} – @{{user.screen_name}} {{created_at}}

Between data, render, and clj we have multiple flexible ways to take advantage of the data behind a pipe.

Propagation in collections

Collection utilities are data-aware as well, so when you transform a collection with a utility like head, tail, random or grep (among others), the data are preserved.

!twitter show yetibot_chatops | random | data show
!twitter show yetibot_chatops | head 3 | data show

This works because there is symmetry between :result/data and :result/value, meaning each item in the :result/value collection corresponds with each item in :result/data or some subset of :result/data. This doesn't mean that :result/data must be a sequential collection. Often API responses return a top level map as the body with useful attributes like :total-count or other meta data, then return the collection as an attribute of that map, e.g. :items. In cases like these we don't want to give up those potentially-useful attributes, so instead commands can return an optional :result/collection path key whose value is a vector containing the path to the sequence in their response, e.g.:

{:result/value ["red" "green" "blue"]
 :result/data {:total-count 3
               :response-ms 228
               :items [{:display-name "red"
                        :hex "#ff0000"
                        :id 1}
                       {:display-name "green"
                        :hex "#00ff00"
                        :id 2}
                       {:display-name "blue"
                        :hex "#0000ff"
                        :id 3}]}
 ;; 👀 notice how this points into the `:result/data` structure
 :result/collection-path [:items]}

A few more examples demonstrating grep and tail:

!github repos yetibot | grep core | data show
!github repos yetibot | tail 2 | data show

Repeat propagates any data returned by the command it's running:

!github repos yetibot | repeat 2 random | data show
!repeat 3 cljquote | data show


See the updated data docs in the Dev Guide for more details.

2019 data core