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Petr Janik
Petr Janik

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RASA - Session persistence

In this article, we will add session persistence to the web chat application created in the previous post. This will allow a user to continue in the conversation with the chatbot even after a browser tab / window is closed.

First, we need to enable session persistence in the Rasa chatbot project. Set session_persistence to true.

# credentials.yml
socketio:
  user_message_evt: user_uttered
  bot_message_evt: bot_uttered
  session_persistence: true
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Now the frontend will be responsible for generating a session ID and sending it to the Rasa server. It needs to emit a session_request event with session_id immediately after the connect event.

We'll manage the session ID by storing it in the localStorage.

function getSessionId() {
    const storage = localStorage;
    const storageKey = 'RASA_SESSION_ID';
    const savedId = storage.getItem(storageKey);
    if (savedId) {
        return savedId;
    }
    const newId = socket.id;
    storage.setItem(storageKey, newId);
    return newId;
}
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The function getSessionId returns a session ID stored in the localStorage. If there is no such ID, it creates a new one, stores it in the localStorage and returns it. The session ID can be any string (number does not work) unique to every user (website visitor). socket.id is a good candidate.

Now when we have the getSessionId function, we can use it to get a session ID and send it immediately after the connect event. Change the connect event handler in index.html to the following:

socket.on('connect', function () {
    console.log('Connected to Socket.io server.');
    socket.emit('session_request', {
        'session_id': getSessionId(),
    });
    console.log(`Session ID: ${getSessionId()}`);
});
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The same session ID must be sent with every user_uttered event. The event is emitted in two places:

  1. in the appendQuickReplies function when the quick reply button is clicked and
  2. when the form is submitted, i.e. when a user clicks Send.

We'll create a function utter(msg) that will send a message passed as a parameter and the session ID.

function utter(msg) {
    socket.emit('user_uttered', {
        'message': msg,
        'session_id': getSessionId(),
    });
}
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Lastly, we will replace the two mentioned occurrences of the user_uttered event with calls to the utter function.

function appendQuickReplies(quickReplies) {
    const quickRepliesNode = document.createElement('div');
    quickRepliesNode.classList.add('quick-replies');
    quickReplies.forEach(quickReply => {
        const quickReplyDiv = document.createElement('button');
        quickReplyDiv.innerHTML = quickReply.title;
        quickReplyDiv.classList.add('button');
        quickReplyDiv.addEventListener('click', () => {
            messages.removeChild(quickRepliesNode);
            appendMessage(quickReply.title, 'sent');
            /** NEW CODE **/
            utter(quickReply.payload);
            /** ******** **/
        });
        quickRepliesNode.appendChild(quickReplyDiv);
    });
    messages.appendChild(quickRepliesNode);
    scrollToBottom();
}
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form.addEventListener('submit', function (e) {
    e.preventDefault();
    const msg = messageInput.value;
    if (msg) {
        /** NEW CODE **/
        utter(msg);
        /** ******** **/
        messageInput.value = '';

        appendMessage(msg, 'sent');
    }
});
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Run the application

  1. Serve the application on http://localhost:8080 by running npx http-server webchat.
  2. In a new terminal window, run the rasa server with enabled cors for all origins: rasa run --cors "*".
  3. In another terminal window, run the actions server: rasa run actions.
  4. Open http://127.0.0.1:8080 and chat with the chatbot!

Conversation with a chatbot on two tabs

You can see that the chatbot continues the conversation (it remembers the previous answers) even when we open a new tab.

What we implemented in this article is briefly described in the Rasa documentation here.

Repository for this tutorial:

You can checkout the state of the repository at the end of this tutorial by running:

git clone --branch 24-session-persistence git@github.com:petr7555/rasa-dev-tutorial.git
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