The chatbot development ecosystem is still relatively immature, which means it’s not as easy as it will eventually be to develop chatbots.
It used to be difficult to develop apps and even websites before an abundance of supporting infrastructure and tools emerged. The same is true of chatbots.
A key part of the supporting infrastructure and tools for developing software are frameworks.
Frameworks allow developers to access and build on common features and methodologies which speed up development time and result in better coding standards. Frameworks also act as middleware allowing developers to connect to many important related services through a single API call.
Botpress is a framework that aims to solve a number of issues that developers currently face when creating chatbots. Let's take a closer look at the three of these issues in more detail.
If you were to build your own website from scratch, you'd have a lot of work on your plate.
Creating a non-trivial website requires you to build a web server and a blogging engine, integrate a payment system and an e-commerce platform, create your own data and analytics solutions, and so on.
Similarly, building a chatbot is a complicated endeavor that requires knowledge of topics like analytics, content management, graphical elements, natural language processing and message scheduling, just to name a few. Developing these features yourself means that you'll spend extra time and money just getting the basics right.
Botpress solves this issue by providing you with reusable components and connections to many relevant chatbot related services. For example Botpress connects to multiple Natural Language Process engines such as api.ai (google), wit.ai (Facebook), LUIS (Microsoft) and Rasa NLU (an open source NLP engine).
In one click, you can install features that would have taken days or weeks to develop independently. And because you have access to the source code you could even choose to manage the components or connections yourself if that ever made sense.
Building your chatbot is only the first hurdle, however. Once the bot has been built, in most cases it has no graphical interface associated with it for administration. This means that developers need to administer the bot using text commands via the command line.
In practice however, it is often preferable for non-technical people to be able to manage these newly built bots themselves. For example content creators need to be able to change the content without asking the developers to do so. They also may want to monitor and manage the bot themselves.
Botpress solves this problem by ensuring that a rich graphical interface is built into every component. This interface appears as soon as each module is installed, just like WordPress. For example, a content team may want to A/B test different wording associated with bot responses on different market segments. They obviously want to be able to do this seamlessly without involving the developers.
Giving non-technical staff access to rich graphical interfaces makes the configuration and management of the chatbot for the organization much more efficient.
As mentioned above, the chatbot development ecosystem is still in a state of infancy, which means there aren't many best practices built up for the industry yet. Every bot is developed according to a different architecture, with no standard to go by. If you're jumping head-first into the world of chatbots, you might find this lack of guidance challenging.
Botpress solves this problem. It has a modular architecture built into the framework which you can leverage when developing your own bot. We've spent a long time engineering the perfect chatbot architecture, one that's flexible yet scalable so that it can grow along with your business.
In addition, you'll have access to an active, ever-growing community of people eager to help you. You’ll also have access to a library of tutorials, videos and documentation. We have the largest collection of resources about building chatbots that you can find anywhere on the internet.
As the chatbot industry matures the quality of the tools available for building chatbots will improve. Botpress aims to be at the forefront of chatbot development. We are not only concerned about making chatbot makers as productive as possible, we are concerned about making the chatbot UX so good that chatbots become mainstream and ubiquitous.
We believe that the quality of the development framework determines in large part the quality of the chatbot UX. This is because resources and time are limited and therefore the less time that chatbot makers have to spend on essential plumbing, the more time they can spend on developing a great UX.