How To Get Started With Chatbots Using Microsoft Composer
This Is Your First Step In Creating A Chatbot With No Code
You have heard of chatbots, also known as Conversational User Interfaces or Conversational AI..and you want to create your own bot…
The number of tools are growing at a rapid speed, some tools are more technical and native code oriented.
Others, like Composer, requires a bit of upfront configuration to get your environment going. But from there it is all graphic.
Composer sits between the highly technical environments and the polished web-based tools, which is a good niche. You can install locally and run your chatbot locally. Unless you include LUIS, which is a discussion for another day…
The Sweet Spot
Most chatbot architectures consist of four pillars, these are typically intents, entities, the dialog flow (State Machine), and scripts.
The dialog contains the blocks or states a user navigates between. Each dialog is associated with one or more intents and or entities. Session variables can also be employed the decide on which states or nodes must be visited.
The intents and entities constitute the condition on which that dialog is accessed.
The dialog contains the output to the customer in the form of a script, or a message…or wording if you like.
This is one of the most boring and laborious tasks in crafting a chatbot. It can become complex and changes made in one area can inadvertently impact another area.
A lack of consistency can also lead to unplanned aberrations in the user experience.
Scaling this environment is tricky especially if you want to scale across a large organisation.
Enter Composer for Bot Framework…
Let’s Get Started…
This is as easy as 1–2–3
Download and install Visual Studio Code (VSC). This is the easiest way to run and install your software. It also gives convenient access to a terminal within windows.
You might have to update your .Net framework.
Once this is done, install yarn. You will have to run the yarn commands to install Composer.
VSCode-Yarn: VSCode extensions to manage yarn commands. You can install this awesome extension through the VSCode-Yarn…
Within VSC, open a new terminal windows:
Then run the following commands:
$ cd Composer // switch to Composer folder
$ yarn install // install dependencies
$ yarn build // build extensions and libs
$ yarn startall // start client and server at the same time
Once you run the last command, yarn startall, Composer for Bot Framework will launch on port 3000.
Once you access the URL http://localhost:3000, Composer will open and you can follow the video tutorial below to access the examples included on the home interface. This will give you a quick starting point and an excellent reference to build your bot out.
Below I took the simple echo chatbot example to show you the process from initiation to interacting with your chatbot. It is a good starting point for you to see how a conversational dialog is constructed.
As you will see in the video, you can launch your bot using the Bot Framework Emulator which is downloadable from here…
The Bot Framework Emulator is a desktop application that allows bot developers to test and debug bots built using the…
Once you launch the emulator, you can interact with your bot via the chatbot console.
Under examples within composer, you can now choose different designs and scenarios.
One example is on what’s called Natural Language Generation (NLG). In essence it concatenates words or phrases around a variable or variables. Hence creating dynamic content specific to the conversation.
Another example is shown in the video below, where you can create responses by the chatbot; not in text, but graphic response cars.
At the very least composer is a good way for an aspiring chatbot developer to get started in an easy way with no cost impediments.
Microsoft has a very powerful NLU API creator in LUIS with the best entity functionality by far; compared to other commercial cloud offerings.
Microsoft has a multi-pronged approached and is addressing various sectors simultaneously with this approach.