Microsoft Research, its Developer Experience team and its Applications and Services Group are all building out pieces of the company's evolving bot platform. Here's what's under the hood.
Tomorrow, Facebook is expected to roll out new bot-related programming interfaces and possibly new chatbots of its own at its F8 developer conference.
Microsoft recently used its own Build developer event to talk up the coming bot-centric future. In the couple of weeks since then, I've been watching recorded Build bot sessions and following various links to understand more about Microsoft's approach.
Bots aren't new and definitely are not unique to Microsoft. Bots are conversational agents. They're meant to help users achieve and/or complete a particular task. Bots can help users interact with a particular service or application without having to download a separate app or go to a specific Web site.
Personal digital assistants like Cortana, Siri and Alexa could be construed as bots. In Cortana's case, Microsoft is pitching Cortana as a possible front end to simpler, single purpose bots.
At the core of Microsoft's bot work is the Microsoft Bot Framework. The Framework consists of three pieces: Bot Builder software development kit (hosted on GitHub) for those interested in building bots using C# or Node.js; the Bot Connector for registering, connecting, publishing and managing bots to text/SMS, Office 365 mail, Skype, Slack, Telegram, kik and more; and a Bot Directory of bots developed with the Bot Framework...