Introduction into Chatbot Development

Maria Rats, Writer

Chatbots appeared to be the beginning of a more serious disruption for the entire marketplace. At the same time, they turned into a new trend when it comes to mobile messengers. They seem to be everywhere like epidemic. But what does actually hide behind that chatbot fever? Is this a new way of communication or are they only a tip of the iceberg? Today we are going to have a closer look at chatbot development and answer those questions.

We use language as the natural way to interact with other people. There is nothing difficult in finding out how your friends get on. You do not need to press any buttons every time you want to ask “how’re you doing”. However, the situation changes as soon as we opt for messenger apps. Chatpots have hit the headlines in the mobile industry and turned into a fashionable trend.

Their popularity is so high today that any app that does not use them will certainly fail to gain success with users. Thy let users handle different tasks ranging from checking the weather to ordering food. Chatbots use a selection of different commands implemented as the key features of the program. Moroever, new technologies made it possible to develop chatbots that are able to learn from their users. In other words, they have become smarter to deliver more capabilities and functionality.

Introduction into Chatbot Development

What is the Bots’ Origin?

Most of you may be surprised to know that first bots appeared in 1950 with the introduction of the first example of the artificial intelligence by Alan Turing. Later the first ever chatbots made their debut in1966 and 1972 respectively. They were Eliza and Parry. Although they were unable to do anything for users, they could easily simulate their voices. Later more advanced bots like Minotaur took the audience by storm after the introduction in 2000. Within a short period of time the bot gained enormous popularity featuring more than 1 million users. It sent up to 65 million messages but eventually vanished in less than 1 year as well as many other similar bots. So, what makes them so special today? What is the reason for their growing popularity?

How many messages do you send daily? This is the answer of reasons for bot popularity today. Starting from regular emails to Telegram, WhatsApp and Skype, we send hundreds of messages every day using different apps. The rise of chatbot popularity took place in China introducing local popular messengers like Baidu and WeChat. Both have 650 and 800 million users respectively. The main feature of both apps is their ability to complete various tasks. Users can do the shopping or exchanging data using voice commands.

Reasons to Enable Chatbot Development

Let’s think of key reasons why you may think to launch chatbot development. We have stressed some of the major ones.

  • Reason 1 – A growing number of chatbot platforms.


    Modern users are free to choose from a wide range of different messengers that se chatbots. They include some of the biggest names in the industry like Microsoft's Bot Frameworkused by Skype, Facebook's Bots for Messenger and any other platforms that can be found in some leading apps that are globally used today.
    We spend more and more time with our mobile devices. In other words, developers are supposed to come up with some more efficient and flexible capabilities to make us pleased. Whenever you want to make users stay in your app or web solution is to make them stop jumping between offers.

  • Reason 1 – A growing number of chatbot platforms.


    Modern users are free to choose from a wide range of different messengers that se chatbots. They include some of the biggest names in the industry like Microsoft's Bot Frameworkused by Skype, Facebook's Bots for Messenger and any other platforms that can be found in some leading apps that are globally used today.
    We spend more and more time with our mobile devices. In other words, developers are supposed to come up with some more efficient and flexible capabilities to make us pleased. Whenever you want to make users stay in your app or web solution is to make them stop jumping between offers.

  • Reason 2 – Create a new type of application


    Some apps are good and some are not. Most of them get out-of-date within a short period as it was with the first chatbot in 2000. You can be the one to offer something new and unique. Moreover, a growing number of AI apps appear all the time creating a tough competition in the niche. It is obvious that such merge will shape the mobile market in the nearest future. You can be among the first to grabs their place in the industry and define the future of the mobile development in general.
    The year 2016 has brought to use many great apps in different niches. They include a finance-managing app Penny, fitness application Lark, Luka to handle various transactions and other great applications. All those products feature a combination of AI facilities and the use of natural language.

  • Reason 3 – Stand Out from Typical Apps


    The increased competition will eventually result in app fatigue. It means, that most of the applications we are used to will eventually disappear from the market. The irony is that in spite of the growing number of mobile devices people started using less mobile apps. At least the usage growth has stopped.
    On the other hand, it also means that the apps fatigue will be followed by the market revival that will flow the niche introducing brand new products. You can be among the first to grab your place in the marketplace.

Introduction into Chatbot Development

Types of Chatbots

Considering the above-mentioned, it is clear that chatbots will inevitably define the future of the mobile app industry. As a developer, you can select from two major types of chatbots.

  • Type 1 – Bits within their own app


    We can follow the example of Penny app. It is a bot that was implemented in its own application. The approach is rather handy in case you already have a successful product with a huge users’ base looking forward to new capabilities for interaction with the app.

  • Type 2 – Messenger Bots


    Most of us are aware of the CNN bot designed for the Facebook messenger. This is actually a bot that acts as a separate function of the messenger. It will have more sense when choosing this type for less popular and developed businesses or startups. Their implementation is cheaper if compared with the first type.

How Do They Work?

Users send them text-based messages and bots complete their tasks. However, the entire interaction is not as easy as it may seem at first sight. Chatbots use various methods to understand users’ commands sent in form of text-based messages:

What lies behind every bot is an advanced technological solution. It is up to you what type of commands to choose. Note, that handling the second one will be a tough challenge unless you have a good programming background and skills.

Chatbot Technologies

You can use different programming languages to build any type of bot you need. However, the technologies to be implemented in them can vary. All available tech solutions can be divided into two main categories:

  • APIs;

  • Machine Learning Technologies.

Introduction into Chatbot Development

APIs

Let’s say, you have a website that sell smartphones. It [provides two major ways of interaction that include:

  • Graphic User Interface;

  • Textual User Interface.

The first way of interactions is the most common. Most people are used to it. GUI introduces various tools for interaction including tab bars, buttons, hamburger menus, etc.
Chatbots operate in another way and rely on TUI. In other words, every user that visits your website is free to interact with the resource using text commands. In other words, you skip several steps described above. You only send a message to a particular bot mentioning you want to buy a smartphone. It will send you the list of available models on demand.

Choosing a particular API is the fast and reliable way to implement your bot that relies on TUI. The API will act as the intermediary between the user and the bot letting it receive text requests and answer them when completing a particular task.
If you are looking for a chance to developer a more intelligent bot, you can opt for machine learning. In this case, your bot will have more capabilities while being able to identify more commands. Such technologies will let you develop an advanced solution with more features including the ability to recognize speech and learn different patterns delivered by natural language.

Introduction into Chatbot Development

Tools to Develop a Chatbot

Developers can choose form a wide selection of different tools and services that will let them build their own bots in spite of their type. All services can be divided into two major groups.

The first group includes chatbots that call for at least fundamental programming skills to be implemented. Pandorabots is among the most popular tools that are based on programming. The service comes as an open source making it possible to develop your own bots and benefit from the latest technologies.
As soon as you are finished with the bot, you may use AlaaS to proceed with its further integration in the application. Go to Github and benefit from SDKs for different programming languages ranging from Java and Python to PHP, Go, Node.js, Ruby and more.

None of the developers is not limited when it comes to using Pandorabots. At the same time, it is not the only service available to develop your own bots. You can also opt for Mitsuku or ALICE. Both were used to build many bots that are now implemented in the biggest names of the app industry featuring millions of users. Whether you look for something more advanced, you can select from the following services:

  • Imperson.ai –

    the platform is the best bet for businesses that often deal with creation and deployment of conversational bots for leading messengers available on the market;

  • Api.ai –

    a good decision whenever you need to develop a bot that relies on natural language interaction.

The second group of tools includes services where you do not have to deal with programming. For example, Chatfuel is the best option in case you do not wish to cope with code writing at all. On the one hand, the platform does not call for programming or coding. On the other hand, you will have a chance to build your own bot for Telegram or Facebook absolutely free. The development process is as easy as completing your LEGO set.

All you need is to follow a step-by-step tutorial provided by the service. Graphical interface will lend you a hand whenever you are stuck at any stage. Despite the fact it does not require any coding, Chatfuel is certainly a good option that will let your users handle newsletters, collect different feedback, communicate or exchange data.
Bits developed with the help of Chatfuel can be found in some of the biggest names like Uber, National Geographic, TechChurch and more.

Introduction into Chatbot Development

Do Chatbots Have Future?

Chatbots will shape the mobile world in the nearest future. Every kid will soon be able to build his or her own bot to benefit from better capabilities. A growing number of handy tools, platforms and services will eventually let you create any bot without facing the slightest difficulty.

Many experts think that bots will soon replace native apps. It is hard to say whether it is true. On the other hand, we should always keep in mind some of the obvious reasons that may lead to such an ultimate replacement.
We will keep in touch with the latest news on the topic to bring the latest news to you. Although yet unclear, the future of chatbots will certainly effect the entire mobile app industry. We are here to learn the first about those changes.

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