Create a Basic Bot with the Bot Builder SDK for.NET
In this blog, I am going to show how to create a basic bot using Microsoft Bot Builder Framework and SDK for .NET.
What is a Bot?
A bot is a software that is designed to automate the tasks you would usually do on your own, like booking a flight ticket, adding an appointment to your calendar or fetching and displaying information.
Chat bots are computer programs that mimic conversation with people using artificial intelligence.
A bot may be as simple as basic pattern matching with a response, or it may be a sophisticated weaving of artificial intelligence techniques with complex conversational state tracking and integration to existing business services.
Let’ see how to create a Bot using Bot Builder SDK
The Bot Builder SDK for .NET is a framework for developing bots using visual studio and windows.
- Install Visual Studio 2017 for windows
- Install Bot Framework Emulator, which is the client you will use for testing your bot
- Download the Bot Application Template and install the template by saving .zip file to your Visual studio 2017 project templates directory which is typically located here: %USERPROFILE%\Documents\Visual Studio 2017\Templates\ProjectTemplates\Visual C#\
- After ensuring you have all the prerequisites ready, Open Visual Studio and create a new C# project by choosing Bot Application template.
By using Bot Application template, you are creating a project that already contains all the components that are required to build simple bot, including a reference to the Bot Builder SDK for .NET, included in the Microsoft.Bot.Builder NuGet Package.
- Right click on your project's References folder in the Solution Explorer and click Manage NuGet packages
- In the Updates tab, type Microsoft.Bot.Builder.
- Locate the package in the list of search results, and click the Update button for that package.
- Follow the prompts to accept the changes and update the package.
Open solution explorer and explore the Bot code.
First, the Post method within Controllers\MessagesController.cs receives the message from the user and invokes the root dialog.
Dialogs are used to model a conversation and manage conversation flow. Each dialog is an abstraction that encapsulates its own state in a C# class that implements IDialog.
The root dialog processes the message and generates a response. The
MessageReceivedAsync method within
Dialogs\RootDialog.cs sends a reply that echoes back the user's message, prefixed with the text 'You sent' and ending in the text 'which was ## characters', where ## represents the number of characters in the user's message.
Dialogs help organize the logic in your bot and manage conversation flow. Dialogs are arranged in a stack, and the top dialog in the stack processes all incoming messages until it is closed or a different dialog is invoked.
Next, you need to test your Bot using the Bot framework emulator to see it in action.
The emulator is a desktop application that lets you test and debug your bot on localhost or running remotely through a tunnel. The emulator displays messages as they would appear in a web chat UI and logs JSON requests and responses as you exchange messages with your bot.
Click on the Run button, Visual Studio will build the application, deploy it to localhost, and launch the web browser to display the application's default.htm page as shown below:
Open the botframework-emulator and connect your bot, Type
http://localhost:3979/api/messages into the address bar. This is the default endpoint that your bot listens to when hosted locally.
Set the Locale as
en-US and click Connect. Because you are running your bot locally, you won't need to specify Microsoft App ID and Microsoft App Password. You can leave these fields blank for now. You will get these two details when you register your bot in the Bot Framework Portal.
Click on the connect button and type hi, hello etc.
You may see that the bot responds to each message you send by echoing back your message prefixed with the text "You said" and ending in the text 'which was ## characters', where ## represents the number of characters in the user's message.