Microsoft Bot Framework Overview

Bots let users interact with intelligent solutions as though they are conversing with another person, and interactions can take many forms, from text/SMS to Office365 mail to Skype and Slack.

Bots (or conversational agents) are rapidly becoming an integral part of your digital experience.

What is Microsoft's Bot Framework?

Bots are as a vital way for users to interact with a service or application as is a web site or a mobile experience.

The Microsoft Bot Framework is a powerful set of services, tools, and SDKs that provides a rich foundation or “framework” for developers to build and connect intelligent bots. The Framework provides developers with a developer portal and SDK to build Bots, a Bot Connector service to connect to social channels such as Twitter and Slack, and a Bot Directory to discover and use existing bots.

Developers writing bots all face the same problems: bots require basic I/O; they must have language and dialog skills; and they must connect to users. The Bot Framework provides tools to easily solve these problems and more for developers e.g., automatic translation to more than 30 languages, user and conversation state management, debugging tools, an embeddable web chat control and a way for users to discover, try, and add bots to the conversation experiences they love.

The framework consists of the following components:

Bot Connector

The Bot Connector lets you connect your bot(s) seamlessly to text/SMS, Office 365 mail, Skype, Slack, and other services. Simply register your bot, configure desired channels and publish in the Bot Directory.

Bot Framework components

Bot Builder SDK

The Bot Builder SDK is an open source SDK hosted on GitHub that provides everything you need to build great dialogs within your Node.js- or C#-based bot.

Bot Builder SDK

For creating bots, you need to have a set of questions in your database which users may ask or inputs or answers of their questions. You need to be proactive to maintain this database for users’ questions.

Let’s take an example of a Simple sandwich order system, what questions would be there to get the perfect order of users choice?

User will be prompted the following the questions:

  • Select your Sandwich filling?
  • Select your Sandwich length?
  • Select your bread type?
  • Would you like Cheese?
  • Select your Sandwich Topping?
  • Select your Sauce Option?

What’s new in Microsoft Bot Framework

The Bot Framework SDK v4 is an Open Source SDK that enables developers to model and build sophisticated conversation using their favorite programming language.

Bot Framework SDK for Microsoft Teams (GA)

The Bot Framework SDK v4.6 release fully integrates support for building Teams bots allowing users to use them in channel or group chat conversations. By adding a bot to a team or chat, all users of the conversation can take advantage of the bot functionality right in the conversation.

Bot Framework SDK for Skills (GA)

  • Skills for bots: Create reusable conversational skills to add functionality to a bot. Leverage pre-built skills, such as Calendar, Email, Task, Point of Interest, Automotive, Weather and News skills. Skills include language models, dialogs, QnA, and integration code delivered to customize and extend as required.
  • Skills for Power Virtual Agent – Coming!: For bots built with Power Virtual Agents, you can build new skills for these bots using Bot Framework and Azure Cognitive Services without needing to build a new bot from scratch.

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