Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Getting started with Microsoft bot connector

The Microsoft Bot Connector is a communication service that  helps you connect your Bot with many different communication channels (Skype, SMS, email, and others)

If you write a conversational Bot or agent and expose a Microsoft Bot Framework-compatible API on the Internet, the Bot Framework Connector service will forward messages from your Bot to a user, and will send user messages back to your Bot.

To use the Microsoft Bot Framework Connector, you must have:

  • A Microsoft Account (Hotmail, Live, Outlook.com) to log into the Bot Framework developer portal, which you will use to register your Bot.
  • An Azure-accessible REST endpoint exposing a callback for the Connector service.
  • Developer accounts on one or more communication services(such as Skype) where your Bot will communicate.
In addition you may wish to have an Azure App Insights account so you can capture telemetry from your Bot. There are different ways to go about building a Bot; from scratch, coded directly to the Bot Connector API, the Bot Builder SDK's for Node.JS & .NET, and the Bot Connector .NET template which is what this QuickStart guide demonstrates.

Getting started 

  1. Install prerequisite software
    • Visual Studio 2015 (latest update) - you can download the community version here for free: www.visualstudio.com
    • Important: Please update all VS extensions to their latest versions Tools->Extensions and Updates->Updates
  2. Download and install the Bot Application template
    • Download the file from the direct download link here:
    • Save the zip file to your Visual Studio 2015 templates directory which is traditionally in "%USERPROFILE%\Documents\Visual Studio 2015\Templates\ProjectTemplates\Visual C#\"
  3. Open Visual Studio
  4. Create a new C# project using the new Bot Application template. We need to make sure that the visual studio is looking into the right location for the templates. If you do not find the templates , the could be that visual studio is looking for one drive location. "C:\Users\Prath\OneDrive\Documents\Visual Studio 2015\Templates\ProjectTemplates\Visual C#". This location could be different based on your settings

The template is a fully functional Echo Bot that takes the user's text utterance as input and returns it as output. In order to run however,
  • The bot has to be registered with Bot Connector
  • The AppId and AppPassword from the Bot Framework registration page have to be recorded in the project's web.config
  • The project needs to be published to the web

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