Writing your first chat bot - where do you start?

Likes to Android with the aim of making that million dollar app one day; retiring to a beach of his choice. For now writes blog posts to hopefully enlighten others & gain some feeling of self worth.

What do you need to start writing your first chatbot? You have an awesome idea and you know it’ll work well on a Google Home or Amazon Alexa, but where do you start?

Let’s run through a simple user scenario to understand the product. Then we’ll trace that back and see what technologies you need to understand to implement your first chatbot.


User X asks their Google Home:
      “Hey Google, Let me talk to Novoda”
Google Home Responds:
      “What do you want to know?”

      “How to make a chatbot in 3 steps”
      “Well done, you have already completed the first step, do you understand?”
      “Yes”
      “Next, get your phone out, have you got it?”
      “Yes”
      “Finally, read this blog online.”


In the above the final piece of consumer technology the user is talking to is a Google Home. However the bot created is a more generic chat bot and could be built to work for other capable platforms. Such as Amazon Alexa, your Android or iOS smartphone, Slack, Skype, Facebook Messenger etc etc)

Writing a chatbot.

A chatbot needs to have two aspects to it.

Firstly, it needs to be conversational - nobody wants a silent chatbot. A bit of small talk, being able to comprehend accents and understanding synonyms for words would really help as well. Luckily there is a platform that will give you all of this out of the box. API.AI is a conversational bot creation website. Its GUI interface allows you to create a bot without needing to understand the complexity of conversation, synonyms and accents. Perfect for any chatbot.

API.AI: Natural Language Understanding Tools to design unique conversation scenarios, design corresponding actions and analyse interactions with users.

Secondly, your bot needs to be uniquely smart, ie it has to be able to serve unique content. You can enable this by hooking your conversational API.AI chatbot into a cloud-connected back end through a system known as webhooks. You can host this on Amazon Lambda, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure or your own company stack.

Your backend service needs to respond to commands. The API.AI bot tells you the question that was asked, breaking it down into its component parts. Your backend then answers the question, returning what is to be said to API.AI.

Uploading the chatbot

When you know the final technology your bot will inhabit, you’ll need to upload the bot to this platform. For Google Home this is the cloud console the other devices we discussed will have something similar.

Recap

That’s it. Put these parts together and you have yourself a perfectly functioning chatbot. Use API.AI to create a platform compatible conversational bot and smarten it up with a webhook to your backend unique content. Package it and ship to your preferred chat platform. Sit back and watch the bots take over.

About Novoda

We plan, design, and develop the world’s most desirable software products. Our team’s expertise helps brands like Sony, Motorola, Tesco, Channel4, BBC, and News Corp build fully customized Android devices or simply make their mobile experiences the best on the market. Since 2008, our full in-house teams work from London, Liverpool, Berlin, Barcelona, and NYC.

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