So, you want to write a bot and you know some JavaScript, or maybe even node.js. You want to do cool things like a music bot, tag commands, random image searches, the whole shebang. Well you're at the right place!

This is the long version with a whole lot of useless blabbering text, jokes and explanations. TL;DR (short) versions: Windows, Linux

This tutorial will get you through the first steps of creating a bot, configuring it, making it run, and adding a couple of commands to it.

Step 1: Creating your App and Bot account

The first step in creating a bot is to create your own Discord application. The bot will use the Discord API, which requires the creation of an account for authentication purposes. Don't worry though, it's super simple.

Creating the App account

To create the application, head to the Discordapp.com Application Page. Assuming you're logged in (if not, do so now), you'll reach a page that looks like this:

Click on (you guessed it!) New Application. This brings you to the following page, in which you should simply enter a name for the application (this will be the inital bot username). You don't really need a description or icon, but feel free to add one.

Ignore the "Redirect URI(s)", this section is not useful to you at this moment.

Create the bot account

Once you click on the Create Application button, you're brought to the application page, on which you see 2 new sections, once for the App ID (keep this one in mind for later) as well as a section that lets you create the Bot User. This is exactly what we want, so go ahead and click Create a Bot User, then Yes, Do it.

Add your bot to a server

Ok so, this might be a bit early to do this but it doesn't really matter - even if you haven't written a single line of code for your bot, you can already "invite" it to a server. In order to add a bot, you need Manage Server permissions on that server. This is the only way to add a bot, it cannot use invite links or any other methods.

Unfortunately, there's no cute button here to do this automatically, the link is buried in the API reference, so I'll help you out. You need to visit the following URL, but you have to replace Client_ID with the Client ID visible in your application page.

https://discordapp.com/oauth2/authorize?client_id=Client_ID&scope=bot

You can also add a bot using specific permissions. To do that, visit the FiniteReality Permission Link generator!

When you do this, You get shown a window letting you choose the server where to add the bot, simply select the server and click Authorize.

You need to be logged in to Discord on the browser with your account to see a list of servers. You can only add a bot to servers where you have Manage Server permissions.

Getting your Bot Token

Alright so, big flashy warning, PAY ATTENTION. This next part is really, really important: Your bot's token is meant to be SECRET. It is the way by which your bot authenticates with the Discord server in the same way that you login to Discord with a username and password. Revealing your token is like putting your password on the internet, and anyone that gets this token can use your bot connection to do things. Like delete all the messages on your server and ban everyone. If your token ever reaches the internet, change it immediately. This includes putting it on pastebin/hastebin, having it in a public github repository, displaying a screenshot of it, anything. GOT IT? GOOD!

With that warning out of the way, on to the next step. The Secret Token, as I just mentioned, is the way in which the bot authenticates. To see it, just click on click to reveal next to Token in the Bot section of the page. You then get this:

No, this is not a valid token. Also make double-sure you're copying the Token and not the Client Secret. The latter is not used for bots.

Step 2: Getting your coding environment ready

This might go beyond saying but I'll say it anyway: You can't just start shoving bot code in notepad.exe and expect it to work. In order to use discord.js you will need a couple of things installed. At the very least:

An alternative: c9.io. I personally appreciate c9.io as it's a full VPS with a great editor (Ace) and installing node, discord.js and all dependencies, then running the bot, is easy. You can't host it there, but you can certainly develop there. This is not an endorsement.

Once you have the required software, the next step is to prepare a space for your code. Please don't just put your files on your desktop it's... unsanitary. If you have more than one hard drive or partition, you could create a special place for your development project. Mine, for example, is D:\devel\ , and my bot is d:\devel\omnicbot\ . Once you've created a folder, open your CLI (command line interface) in that folder. Linux users, you know how. Windows users, here's a trick: SHIFT+RightClick in the folder, then choose the "secret" command Open command window here. Magic!

And now ready for the next step!

Installing Discord.js

So you have your CLI ready to go, in an empty folder, and you just wanna start coding. Alright, hold on one last second: let's install discord.js. But first we'll initialize this folder with NPM, which will ensure that any installed module will be here, and nowhere else. Simply run npm init -y and then hit Enter. A new file is created called package.json, click here for more info about it.

And now we install Discord.js through NPM, the Node Package Manager:

npm i -S discord.js

i means install and -S ensures it's saved in the package.json we just created!

This will take a couple of heartbeats and display a lot of things on screen. Unless you have a big fat red message saying it didn't work, or package not found, or whatever, you're good to go. If you look at your folder, you'll notice that there's a new folder created here: node_modules . This contains all the installed packages for your project.

Getting your first bot running

I honestly consider that if you don't understand the code you're about to see, coding a bot might not be for you. If you do not understand the following sample, please go to CodeAcademy and learn Javascript first. I beg of you: stop, drop, and roll.

Okay finally, we're ready to start coding. \o/ Let's take a look at the most basic of examples, the ping-pong bot. Here's the code in its entirety:

const Discord = require("discord.js");
const client = new Discord.Client();
client.on("ready", () => {
console.log("I am ready!");
});
client.on("message", (message) => {
if (message.content.startsWith("ping")) {
message.channel.send("pong!");
}
});
client.login("SuperSecretBotTokenHere");

The variable client here is used an an example to represent the <Client> class. Some people call it bot, but you can technically call it whatever you want. I recommend sticking to client though!

Okay let's just... actually get this guy to work, because this is literally a functional bot. So let's make it run!

  1. Copy that code and paste it in your editor.

  2. Replace the string in the client.login() function with your secret token

  3. Save the file as mybot.js.

  4. In the CLI (which should still be in your project folder) type the following command: node mybot.js

If all went well (hopefully it did) your bot is now connected to your server, it's in your userlist, and ready to answer all your commands... Well, at least, one command: ping. In its current state, the bot will reply "pong!" to any message that starts with, exactly, ping. Let's demonstrate!

Success! You now have a bot running! As you probably realize by now I could probably blabber on from here, showing you a bunch of stuff. But the scope of this tutorial is completed, so I'll shut up now! Ciao!

The Next Step?

Now that you have a basic, functional bot, it's time to start adding new features! Head on over to Your First Bot to continue on your journey with adding new commands and features!

Addendum: Getting help and Support

Before you start getting support from Discord servers to help you with your bot, I strongly advise taking a look at the following, very useful, resources.

  • Discord.js Documentation : For the love of all that is (un)holy, read the documentation. Yes, it will be alien at first if you are not used to "developer documentation" but it contains a whole lot of information about each and every feature of the API. Combine this with the examples above to see the API in context.

  • An Idiot's Guide is another great channel with more material. York's guides are great, and he continues to update them.

  • Evie.Codes on Youtube: If you prefer video to words, Evie's youtube series (which is good, though no longer maintained with new videos!) gets you started with bots.

  • An Idiot's Guide Official Server: The official server for An Idiot's Guide. Full of friendly helpful users!

  • Discord.js Official Server: The official server has a number of competent people to help you, and the development team is there too!