Create and enter into a new working directory.

mkdir my_aea/
cd my_aea/

We highly recommend using a virtual environment to ensure consistency across dependencies.

Check that you have pipenv.

which pipenv

If you don't have it, install it. Instructions are here.

Once installed, create a new environment and open it.

touch Pipfile && pipenv --python 3.7 && pipenv shell

Installing docker

At some point, you will need Docker installed on your machine (e.g. to run an OEF Node).

If you don't have it, please check the official documentation here and follow the instructions for your platform.

Download the scripts and packages directories

Download folders containing examples, scripts and packages:

svn export
svn export
svn export
You can install the svn command with (brew install subversion or sudo apt-get install subversion).


The following installs the entire AEA package which also includes a command-line interface (CLI).

pip install aea[all]

However, you can run this demo by installing the base AEA, including the CLI extension, alone.

pip install aea[cli]

Known issues

If the installation steps fail, it might be a dependency issue.

The following hints can help:

  • Ubuntu/Debian systems only: install Python 3.7 headers.

    sudo apt-get install python3.7-dev

  • Windows users: install tools for Visual Studio.

Echo skill demo

The echo skill is a simple demo that introduces you to the main business logic components of an AEA.

Option 1 - Step-by-step

Create a new agent

First create a new agent project and enter it.

aea create my_first_agent
cd my_first_agent

Add the echo skill

aea add skill fetchai/echo:0.1.0

This copies the echo skill code containing the "behaviours", "handlers", and "tasks" into the skill, ready to run. The full identifier of the skill fetchai/echo:0.1.0 consists of the name of the author of the skill, followed by the skill name and its version.

Add a stub connection

AEAs use messages for communication. We use a stub connection to send messages to and receive messages from the AEA.

The stub conection is already added to the agent by default.

A stub connection provides an I/O reader and writer.

It uses two files for communication: one for incoming messages and the other for outgoing messages. Each line contains an encoded envelope.

The AEA waits for new messages posted to the file my_first_agent/input_file, and adds a response to the file my_first_agent/output_file.

The format of each line is the following:


For example:

recipient_agent,sender_agent,default,{"type": "bytes", "content": "aGVsbG8="}

Option 2 - Fetch the entire agent

The preceding three steps can be executed at once with the command

aea fetch fetchai/my_first_agent:0.1.0
cd my_first_agent

Run the agent

Run the agent with the default stub connection.

aea run


aea run --connections stub

You will see the echo task running in the terminal window.

The echo call and response log

The framework first calls the setup method on the Handler, Behaviour, and Task code in that order; after which it repeatedly calls the Behaviour and Task methods, act and execute. This is the main agent loop in action.

Let's look at the Handler in more depth.

Add a message to the input file

From a different terminal and same directory, we send the AEA a message wrapped in an envelope via the input file.

echo 'my_first_agent,sender_agent,default,{"type": "bytes", "content": "aGVsbG8="}' >> input_file

You will see the Echo Handler dealing with the envelope and responding with the same message to the output_file, and also decoding the Base64 encrypted message in this case.

info: Echo Task: execute method called.
info: Echo Behaviour: act method called.
info: Echo Handler: message=Message(type=bytes content=b'hello'), sender=sender_agent
info: Echo Task: execute method called.
info: Echo Behaviour: act method called.
info: Echo Task: execute method called.
info: Echo Behaviour: act method called.
info: Echo Task: execute method called.

Stub connection input and output

Stop the agent

Stop the agent by pressing CTRL C

Delete the agent

Delete the agent from the parent directory (cd .. to go to the parent directory).

aea delete my_first_agent