Microsoft shows how easy it is to build and deploy a bot using MS Bot Framework and FormFlow

Vu Anh Nguyen

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Chat bots are going to be an essential part of Microsoft’s and the computing world’s future, according to CEO Satya Nadella; as such, the company has already built a lot of tools to get developers started in developing artificial intelligence. One of them, the MS Bot Framework, just got a new how-to on the MSDN blog.

Specifically, the post discusses how to make a simple “low-friction “chit-chat bot” that can do linear conversations and fulfill requests using a turn-by-turn approach. What sounds simple may be made complicated as users do more than just progressing through the conversation, like going back to a previous questions: to deal with this, MS Bot Framework introduces “FormFlow”, which allows the bot to understand non-linear requests.

Microsoftie Jamie Dalton – the author of the post – who is apparently closely related to England, provided an interesting example of a bot he created for the one of the hottest political event this year: England’s departure from the EU, more commonly known as “Brexit”. Aptly named “Brexit Bot”, Dalton’s bot help voters to decide whether they should go for “Remain” or “Leave”, through a series of questions.

Introducing the Brexit Bot (might be too late though). Credits: Jamie Dalton
Introducing the Brexit Bot (might be too late though). Credits: Jamie Dalton

The bot can be made very quickly (taking “the entire duration of the England vs Iceland game in the Euro 2016 Cup”, which Dalton seems to want to forget, as a true Englishman), and with very low resources, two critical criteria for businesses, especially for new, unproven services like chat bots. Dalton also provides a series of insights to track with telemetry, to determine if customers will take to chat bots.

Conversational channels are increasingly becoming valuable for businesses to reach customers, and chat bots might be the answer to this new marketing channel. If you want to up your marketing game, MS Bot Framework might be a good way to start; get the latest release, v3.0, on the main page, or chat with a bot to get to the complete code on GitHub (and experience first-hand the framework’s power.)