Slash commands

Slash commands are commands (mainly for power users) to quickly do some stuff from the compose box. The codebase refers to these as “zcommand”s, and both these terms are often user interchangeably.

Currently supported slash commands are:

  • /day and /night to change the UI theme

  • /ping to ping to server and get back the time for the round trip. Mainly for testing.

  • /fluid-width and /fixed-width to toggle that setting

It is important to distinguish slash commands from the widget system. Slash commands essentially do not send messages (and could have very well had their own “command prompt” (but don’t), since they have nothing to do with message sending), while widgets are special kinds of messages.

Data flow

These commands have client-side support in zcommands.js. They send commands to the server using the /json/command endpoint.

In the case of “/ping”, the server code in zcommand.py basically just acks the client. The client then computes the round trip time and shows a little message above the compose box that the user can see and then dismiss.

For commands like “/day” and “/night”, the server does a little bit of logic to toggle the user’s night mode setting, and this is largely done inside zcommand.py. The server sends a very basic response, and then the client actually changes the display colors. The client also shows the user a little message above the compose box instructing them how to reverse the change.

(It’s possible that we don’t really need a general /json/zcommand endpoint for these, and we may decide later to just use custom API endpoints for each command. There’s some logic in having a central API for these, though, since they are typically things that only UI-based clients will invoke, and they may share validation code.)

It is the client’s responsibility to correctly detect and process when a user uses a slash command, and not instead send a message with the raw content.

Typeahead

Typeahead for both slash commands (and widgets) is implemented via the slash_commands object in static/js/composebox_typeahead.js.