This is How To Get Started With Oracle Digital Assistant

Introduction To The Elements You Need To Build A Chatbot

Cobus Greyling
4 min readApr 17, 2020



Here we will have a look at registration, Intents, Entities & State Management.

You will need to create an Oracle Cloud account. There are two tiers which are suitable for experimentation. The one is the always free cloud stack. The other is a free cloud trial.

ODA resides on the second, hence you will need to enter your credit card details to access the functionality. Oracle does undertake not to take money off your card, once the trial has ended, you will be prompted.

Once you have your Oracle Cloud account, you will need to create an Oracle cloud Infrastructure account. The creation of this account is not instantaneous and you will have to wait up to a day for an email confirming your access.

Log Into Your Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

Once you have received your credentials, log in and click on the side menu. Under “Data and AI”, you will see the Digital Assistant option.

Under “Data and AI” Select “Digital Assistant”

Once you see the screen below, you have arrived. And the only thing standing between you and creating a chatbot on Oracle’s platform is the expiration of your trial subscription.

Once You See This Screen The Fun Starts


The approach followed for intents is standard in comparison to the other market leaders. Intents can be defined with a few example utterance. From the very start you can test your intents and get the confidence in detection for each intent.

Testing Intent Detection In The “Try Out” Panel

Something I miss here is being able to select portions of the example utterances and define those as contextual entities. The is the ultimate way of defining entities. Where entities does not have an intrinsic type, or a finite list of values, but are defined by the context they are used in.

Testing Interface for Intents And Entities


When creating entities there is a list of 6 entity types to choose from. The two types I found interesting are Composite Bag and Dynamic Entities.

The List Of Entities Available

Dynamic Entities can be updated programmatically.

This allows for entities to be updated without accessing the graphic console. The model can be changed on the fly.

This is something novel and unique to ODA, as far as I know at least, and very convenient in endeavors of creating a more dynamic model.

A Composite Bag reminds much of Amazon Lex in their slot filling procedure. There are two variants of entity lists. An option to derive an entity from parent entity based on a Following Phrase or Preceding Phrase.

This reminds of composite entities but not as dynamic and fairly rudimentary.

State Management

Oracle uses a framework called OBotML, their propriety implementation of a YAML state management language. This is a very powerful environment to manage the conversation, variables more.

The Tools Menu For Skill Creation

The closest comparison is Amazon Lex, where Lex only supplies the NLU API and Lambda needs to be used to develop serverless functions on to manage variables, context and the general conversation flow.

The is much documentation available on OBotML and integration and scaling will not be a problem.

Part of ODA is a Conversation Designer tool which lets you create a conversation graphically. From here the conversational components are created on the fly. Intents, Entities and the OBotML.

This is a nice tool to become familiar with the environment, but I would not use it for anything more. It would be best to build your conversational experience from the ground up; element by element.


If you already have products and services living in the Oracle cloud. If you are already making use of Oracle Mobile Cloud Enterprise, and their AI products…Then Oracle Digital Assistant would be your technology of choice.

ODA is strong on seamless integration and technical support and resources are good.

Conversational components are also featured and one of the first mediums (channels) Oracle focused on Facebook Messenger.

In a comparison matrix ODA will definitely struggle against most of the other chatbot technologies. It is encouraging to see the steady stream of updates and enhancements which are made every month to ODA.



Cobus Greyling

I explore and write about all things at the intersection of AI & language; LLMs/NLP/NLU, Chat/Voicebots, CCAI.