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How to Build Custom Actions for GPTs Without Coding (Step-by-Step)

Sean Kerr
Sean Kerr

Are you looking to learn how to create custom actions in your GPTs? Then, you are on the right page, as I will describe the steps involved in creating custom actions for GPTs below.

The introduction of ChatGPT marked an important event in the AI industry. And it was well received by users who mostly have nothing to do with the AI community.

While the ChatGPT service was accepted by all when it was introduced, it was purely a chat-based AI system that had no access to the Internet. Later, Internet access was added to it, but still very limiting in nature.

However, OpenAI, the parent company of ChatGPT, introduced the GPTs service, a service that allows you to build your own version of ChatGPT by providing instructions and data.

This made it possible to solve specific domain tasks with ChatGPT, such as getting your GPT to serve as a custom agent or teach your kids maths. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

One of the features that the coming of GPTs came with is the ability to create custom actions and the opportunities that they come with. In this article, I will show you how to build custom actions for GPTs to extend the capabilities of your GPT builds.

What are Custom Actions for GPTs?

Custom actions are an addition to the GPT capabilities. GPTs, aside from their ability to return text, can also generate images and browse the Internet. But there operations on the Internet are limited. If you have a service for which you are developing the GPT for, you can provide the GPT the ability to interact with your service API so users of your GPT can access the API from the GPT interface. This is what custom actions in GPTs are all about — being able to interact with external data or web API, which is part of the real world as opposed to the constrained environment of ChatGPT.

When the developers of ChatGPT mentioned that the best GPTs will be built by the community, the ability to add custom actions and the possibilities that it creates is one of the reasons for that assertion. Let’s say I own a betting platform, I can develop a GPT app that will allow users of the GPT to place bets directly from the GPT while chatting with it. This gives ChatGPT super powers, and businesses can now create them for their customers to use.

Steps to Create Custom Actions for GPTs

 

In this section of the article, I will be discussing the steps required to build custom actions for your GPTs to give them access to the real world.

Step 1: Upgrade Your Account to Plus

If you have already created your GPT, then you can skip this step, as you can’t create a GPT without a Plus account. For those new to the GPT world, your free ChatGPT account won’t give you access to the GPT service. You will need to upgrade your account and become a plus user. It costs just $20 to become a Plus user, and the process of opting in is stress-free. Just under beneath your chats, you will see the Upgrade link. Upgrading your account will give you access to GPT-4, web access, and DALL-E for image generation. You also need to create a GPT. Once you upgrade your account, you can now move to the next step.

Step 2: Create GPT

Go to the explore section, and you will see the link to create GPT.

creat gpt

When clicked, you will be taken to a ChatGPT interface where you will create your GPT. The creation of GPT has been made easy in that you don’t need to write a single line of code; you create GPTs by chatting with ChatGPT, as it is the setup wizard and does a nice job at that. The interface this time around is divided into two — the chat section and the previous section. You will use the chat section to set up and view the interface to see what you are doing.

ChatGPT will ask you to provide details of what you want to create. Give a clear name and description of what you want. Using the information provided, ChatGPT will generate a name for the GPT, a profile picture, and a description. You have the option of changing this either by chatting with it to change it or doing that later in the configure tab. For now, let's accept what ChatGPT gave us.

Step 3: Provide Instruction and Behaviour

Just Chat! 

New GPT

Still on the same interface, once you accept the description and profile picture, ChatGPT will ask you to provide instructions on how you will want your GPT to behave. This section is up to you. And this is what sets your GPT apart. If your GPT is meant to help users with academic research, you can give it the instruction to help provide literature reviews, provide citations that are up to date and make sure the reviews are summarised using an academic writing style. You can also specify the referencing style —whether APA or the specific version too.

Step 4: Go to the Configuration Tab and Start Configuring

Now to the main part. If you are on the create tab, switch to the configure tab. You will see the name of the GPT you created alongside the description, profile picture, and instructions. You can tweak these if you need to.

configure GPT

  • Conversation Starter

Next is to craft a conversational starter. For an academic research assistant, you can set questions like “What topic are you writing on?”.

  • Knowledge Base

After the conversation starter, you can then move to uploading knowledge. This can be research papers, other literature review materials, and other documents that are related to your field that you will want ChatGPT to use in providing you help.

  • Enabling Capabilities

The next setup to take a look at is the capabilities of your GPT. Do you want it to remain closed, or do you want it to access the Internet? Should it have the ability to run and interpret codes, or should it be able to generate images? Choose the capabilities you want your GPT to have.

  • Action

The next configuration option is action, and that is the main reason this article was written. Using this, you can configure your GPT to access API endpoints, send emails, or even query databases.

How to Configure Actions for GPT

When you click on the “Add Actions,” you will be taken to a new page to create the action. The first section is for defining your actions, otherwise known as functions, and the second is for authentication. Let's start with the first.

  • Give the schema a name. It should be a unique name, you could name it, let's say, AirtimeAPIService.

gpt action schema

  • Give it a description. It should be short and then provide the root URL (domain).
  • The next thing now is to define functions which are nothing but the endpoints your GPT will consume. Provide a name also, such as verify balance.  And then a description.
  • Define the URL path without the domain name (it will be added by adding the one you entered earlier). Make sure you choose the appropriate request method (GET, POST).
  • If there is a parameter added to the URL, you can also add the parameter.
  • If you have more functions to add, you can click on the “Add function” button and repeat steps 3- 5.
  • Next is for you to add a privacy policy, which is quite handy if your action will handle user personal data.
  • Go to the authentication section and define the mode of authentication — it can be set to None, API Key, or OAuth.
  • Once you are done, review your settings and save all the changes. You can now test the newly created action by chatting with your GPT to trigger the action.

Publish my GPT

FAQs

  • What is the Use of Actions for GPTs?

Actions are a way of adding custom capabilities to GPTs. ChatGPT is slowly growing into an AI agent that does not only have knowledge to spite out but also has the ability to do things online. Things it can do are determined by the custom actions you add. They can send emails, make purchases, and verify issues on a site, provided there is an API for that. With the ability to add custom APIs, which are left to builders, the GPT market will quickly grow, allowing people to get things done online using a chat interface.

  • What Are the Privacy Risks Involved in Creating Custom Actions?

When creating a custom action for GPTs, there is a section for privacy policy, and you are to highlight the data you collect and what you use the data for. Generally, when your custom action handles users' personal data, they need to know the data collected and what it is meant for.  This is because there is always a privacy risk when handling user data, especially when a hack or leak occurs.

  • Are Custom Actions Free to Create?

If you have a Plus account, custom actions are free to create from the GPT Builder area. However, if you have not built an API to consume and you will need to, then it will cost you. This is because GPTs will only consume an already-made API. If you are a coder, you can create the API by yourself and host it. If you are not, then you will need the service of a coder. From the beginning, I mentioned that GPTs can be created by non-coders. But when it comes to creating custom actions, that can only be handled by those with coding skills.

Conclusion

The compliance of ChatGPT not interacting with the real world but instead working in a confined environment is being solved by GPTs, and custom actions are what give ChatGPT access to the real world. Setting up custom actions, as you can see above, is easy from the GPT Builder interface — the only thing that could make it take time is if the API to be consumed by the GPT has not been set up and hosted yet. Once that is then, using it is just like plug and play.

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