Chat Bots – Part One

One of the new technologies that I have seen a lot of lately in the news, and tech blogs about Dynamics is the idea of using Chat Bots to improve customer service and to reduce the pressure on customer service front line staff.

I thought I would give them a go and see how they are created.

This post is primarily about my findings on how easy it was to create one, but is by no means a how to guide as there are plenty of resources on the internet.

This page that you are reading now includes a Chat Bot at the bottom of the screen.  Try clicking on Chat at the bottom and type something in to the window.

It should ask your name, and at the moment, the only other thing you can do is use the following keywords:

blog, post, posts, all, latest and containing

This will then give you a list of blog posts from this site, with appropriate hyperlinks.

For example,

show me all blog posts

show latest posts

show posts containing linqpad

Creating the Chat Bot

I had assumed that there was an easy wizard style approach for creating a chat bot, but thankfully it required some coding (cos that’s how I like to do things).

You can build one online, but it appears to be a glorified UI for code editing.  You still need to get your hands dirty.

So, after downloading the Visual Studio Bot Template, and creating a new project based off said template, and installing the Bot Framework NuGet package, and then getting the emulator, I was sorted.

It took a while to figure out the methods and the required processes to create a chatty botty, but I got there in the end.  A quick publish to Azure, and registering it within the Microsoft Bot Developer site, it was ready.

At the moment, it’s very basic, but, the next stage is to see if I can make it clever, possibly even using some Language Understanding Intelligent Service  to make it behave like some real Artificial Intelligence.

And then after that, get it talking to Dynamics 365, which to be honest, is going to be the easy bit.

Its worth mentioning as well, to get the Bot to be able to read the posts from this WordPress site required some coding as well.  Wrapping up parts of the WordPress Web API within some C# classes, it could be the start of something special.



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