It’s An Invasion Of The SlackBots

Eli Krumholz shows guests how to use BotKit, an open-source tool that gets bots up and running fast.

If the Slack team feels a lot more crowded this week, it’s because a dozen local developers learned some new techniques to quickly host their own chat bots at May’s MN Bot Makers Meetup at held at Intertech headquarters in Eagan.

Hosted completely online, this JavaScript framework comes pre-loaded with some functions, including their own personality. For example, a user can type “question” in a message with one of these simple bots. The bot will ask, “do you like cheese?” and await a response. If told yes, the bot says, “how wonderful! Let us eat some.” A negative answer yields the reply, “cheese! It is not for everyone.”

Users can edit responses and triggers without any knowledge of JavaScript. The more complicated functions, however, may require some digging to find the right syntax.

Marty Wetherall, a local advertising expert, discussed two bot creation tools. First, he presented Dexter, a framework he utilized for a recent project. Dexter is a code-free platform for creating bots in Slack, Messenger, SMS, and Twitter. Dexter guides users through various branching topics, building the conversation through a flowchart-like interface. Marty was able to follow the get started guide to build a Slack bot that presented a cat or dog GIF, depending on which animal the chat partner prefers. He also led a discussion about BotMock, an interactive conversation planning tool for bot creators.

The MN Bot Makers Meetup takes place monthly and the events are free and open to the public.

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