Creative Technology Monthly: Chatbots

Issue 01: Bots — November 2016

• Originally posted at Medium.com

Welcome to Creative Technology monthly, this is the first issue of what we hope will be a long-running series here at TMW. It will cover topics ranging from design to development; artificial intelligence to hardware hacking; and much more.

Chatbots 🤖

This month has been dominated, for the most part, by chatbots. Everyone seems to want one, and brands are no exception. At TMW, we have been investigating the various different types of bots and platforms, and have been creating some prototypes for our clients.

In our research, we have come across many different examples. Some were good, some were n0t-so-good, but all had something to offer. Below are some examples that caught my eye:

  • Channel 4’s TV programme, Humans created an excellent bot recently to publicise their second season. It puts you into the heart of the story with one. Try it out here.
  • Poncho weather 🌦 has native smartphone apps, but it also has a brilliant Facebook Messenger bot. The copywriting is excellent and really enhances the experience for would normally be a simple utility.
  • HealthTap 🚑 is a Facebook Messenger bot that provides fast access to health care
  • If you need help getting a Visa for the 🇺🇸 United States, Visabot will be able to help you. It is the first immigration robot powered by artificial intelligence.

Create your own bot

There are many bot development platforms, we have evaluated some and these are our recommendations:

Chatfuel.com — Create a bot without any code

Chatfuel provides basic AI and hooks to many 3rd party services so you can actually create a fairly robust Facebook Messenger or Telegram bot with relative ease. It is excellent for simple bots or prototyping but I think that for complex bots where context is needed, other solutions like wit.ai or Gupshup may be better.

API.ai — Conversational User Experience Platform

If you need a little more power, customisation and natural language from your bot, API.ai is the one to go for. It provides both voice and text API’s and has including a huge library of topics to allow your bot to be taught and respond naturally in most situations.

Special mention goes to wit.ai, Gupshup and init.ai for more developer-focused bot creation.

You can find more bots at Botlist or at botpages.com and, for more information, Chatbot magazine is invaluable for bot news and trends. Bot Stash is also a great resource for all things bot-related.


Showcase



Code

  • npms isn’t a library but if you need to search for open-source code on npm, this is the site to do it. It is far faster and the results are more accurate. You can also use unpkg.com for demo/prototyping purposes. You can link directly to an npm package’s script. Also, ntl is a really useful package if you are running lots of npm run scripts.
  • Reframe.js 📽 is a javascript plugin that makes elements scale at a fixed ratio. Very useful for making Youtube/Vimeo embeds responsive.
  • dont-go is a small client-side library with zero dependencies to change the title and/or favicon of the page when it is inactive. 😌
  • Awesome Micro npm Packages is a curated list of small, focused Node.js modules.
  • Awesome Sass 🎨 is a curated list of awesome Sass and SCSS frameworks, libraries, style guides, articles, and resources.
  • Google’s Mobile-First Indexing Approach — Google’s algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content.

Apps

  • Franz is a free messaging app that supports Slack, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Skype and many more.
  • Alfred is a Mac productivity app that replaces Spotlight search and adds many more features. 3rd party plugins, known as workflows can also be installed to extend the app.
  • Flux makes the colour of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

Tech Team Activity

🗣 Ciaran Park, Denzil Brade, JP and myself all attended #FFconf recently, it was a brilliant few days with many inspiring talks. Watch this space for a full write-up.

🗣 In a recent #brunch&learn™ JP spoke about Redux Observables, he will be writing a piece about it soon.

🏐 I have been hard at work on the next version of Kickoff, version 8 of our front-end framework. If you’re interested in keeping up-to-date, please follow development in the v8 branch on the Github repo. The docs are also being improved, see the WIP here.


👋

If you have any comments or feedback, please let us know. If you have any suggestions for next month’s issue. Please send a tweet to @TMWInteractive.