Buffy works listening to events received from GitHub and deciding if/how to reply by passing the received payload to different Responders. You can fork Buffy and configure the responders you want to use for any specific repository. There is no need for the Buffy fork to be located in the same GitHub user/organization as the repo where it will be used. To have Buffy ready and listening to events you can install it locally or deploy it to a server or service platform. You’ll need the following components:

  • A GitHub user to use as the bot with admin permissions on the target repo (usually a member of the organization owning the repo).

  • An instance of Buffy running

  • A webhook configured in the GitHub repo’s settings to send events to Buffy

Create the bot GitHub user

This will be the user responding to commands in the reviews repo.

1. Sign up at GitHub and create the bot user:

GitHub's signup pageGitHub's signup page

2. Go to Settings >> Developer settings >> Personal access tokens and create a new token with these scopes: public_repo, repo:invite, read:org, read:user and, if using the approval responder, admin:org (as the app will create teams and invite members to the ropensci organization). Save that token, it will be your BUFFY_GH_ACCESS_TOKEN.

Settings >> Developer settings >> Personal access tokensSettings >> Developer settings >> Personal access tokens

3. Give the bot admin permissions: add it as member of the organization owning the repo where the reviews will take place:

People at GitHub OrganizationPeople at GitHub Organization

Deploy Buffy

Server requirements

Some applications and services must be available to use by Buffy:

  • Redis: To process background jobs Buffy needs redis installed.

  • Gitinspector: The Respository Checks Responder performs a statistical analysis using it.

  • cloc: The Respository Checks Responder can analyze source code, to run this check cloc is used.


We will use here Heroku as an example service to deploy Buffy but you can use any other server or platform.

1. Create a new app in heroku linked to the url of your fork of Buffy. Automatically Heroku will use the heroku/ruby buildpack.

  • To process background jobs Buffy needs redis installed, several add-ons providing it are available: Heroku Redis, RedisGreen, Redis To Go, etc.

  • To install the cloc dependency there’s a buildpack for Heroku available here.

  • Gitinspector can be installed using npm. To do so in Heroku, the heroku/nodejs buildpack can be added.

2. In the app settings add the following Config Vars:

    BUFFY_BOT_GH_USER: <the_github_username_of_the_bot>
    BUFFY_GH_ACCESS_TOKEN: <the_access_token_for_the_bot_created_in_the_previous_step>
    BUFFY_GH_SECRET_TOKEN: <a_random_string>
    RACK_ENV: production

2b. You can set the Ruby version to install using the CUSTOM_RUBY_VERSION env var. Unless you need any other specific version, please add also a Config Var named CUSTOM_RUBY_VERSION with the value of the latest version listed in the Buffy tested Ruby versions.

3. You can set Heroku to automatically redeploy when new commits are added. You can also add heroku as a git remote and deploy manually using

    $ git push heroku main

There are detailed instructions in the Deploy section of your Heroku app.

4. You should now have a public URL with Buffy running. You can test that pointing your browser to /status, like for example: It should return a simple up and running message.

Configure a webhook to send events from GitHub to Buffy

1. Go to the settings page of the repository where you want to use buffy. Add a new webhook.

Add webhookAdd webhook

2. Configure the new webhook with:

    Payload URL: /dispatch path at your public buffy url
    Content type: application/json
    Secret: The BUFFY_GH_SECRET_TOKEN you configured in the previous step

Select individual events to trigger: issue comments and issues New webhookNew webhook

If everything went well you should have now your bot responding on the reviews issues. Try @botname help for example.