Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Now on GitHub: Understand and build chatbots the easy way

Recently, I posted about a then upcoming Meetup and my talk about chatbots. Here is a quick follow-up. To compile stuff for that presentation and some other upcoming talks, I created a GitHub repository "chatbot-talk2018". I has lots of links to get started and to deepen understanding around chatbot technology. Moreover, it contains a presentation in Markdown for GitPitch for you to use and extend. And finally, I wrote this brief introduction to some chatbot terms or concepts:
  • Intents are what the user aims for, the desired action or result of the interaction. An intent can be to retrieve a weather report.
  • Entities are (real or virtual) subjects or objects. For the example of the weather report, entities can be the city or country, e.g., Friedrichshafen in Germany, or date and time information such as "today afternoon".
  • A dialog, dialog flow or dialog tree is used to structure the interaction. Typically, an interaction lasts longer than the user providing input and the chatbot returning a single answer. A dialog can be highly complex with several levels, subbranches, (directed) links between dialog nodes and more.
    For a weather chatbot, a dialog could be constructed that, after a greeting, asks the user about the location and time for a weather report, then asks if additional information, such as a weather outlook for the next few days, is needed.
  • Slots are supported by several chatbot systems. Slots are used to specify the data items that need to be specified in order to produce the result of an intent. To return a weather report, e.g., at least the location and maybe the date or time is needed.
  • Context is state information that is carried from step to step for a specific user interaction. The context typically stores the information that is already gathered as input (see "slot"), result-related data or metadata, or general chat information, e.g., the user name.
If you have feedback, suggestions, or questions about this post, please reach out to me on Twitter (@data_henrik) or LinkedIn.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Extended: Manage and interact with Watson Assistant from the command line

Remember my blog posts about how to manage Watson Assistant from the command line and how to test context for a conversation? Well, that tool did not work well for server actions which I used in this tutorial on building database-driven Slackbot. The good news is that I found time to extend my command line Watson Conversation Tool to support credentials for IBM Cloud Functions.

With the recent update to the tool there are two new features:
  1. Use the option "-outputonly" with the "-dialog" option to only print the output text, not the entire JSON response object. I introduced it to be able to demo dialog flows from the command line. Not everybody needs all the metadata for every dialog turn. Here is how it looks like when in action:
  2. Chatbot dialog on the command line
  3. In order to test dialog server actions, I need to provide the credentials for IBM Cloud Functions (ICF) in a private context variable. I recently blogged about how to enable the Watson botkit middleware for those server actions. For my tool, just provide the ICF key token as part of the configuration file. A sample is part of the GitHub repository.
For feature requests, defects or suggestions, open an issue or a pull request against the repository. If you have feedback, suggestions, or questions about this post, please reach out to me on Twitter (@data_henrik) or LinkedIn.

Friday, July 13, 2018

How to: Enable Let's Encrypt SSL wildcard certificates for your IBM Cloud apps

Private data - secured
Early last year, I wrote about how to improve security for your custom domains on IBM Cloud. I pointed out that I was using the bluemix-letsencrypt wrapper for Cloud Foundry app to generate and retrieve SSL certificates issued by Let's Encrypt. Today, I am going to introduce you to another option which I am using. Recently, Let's Encrypt announced the support and availability of wildcard certificates. With such a wildcard certificate, all of my IBM Cloud apps available under a custom domain are covered (and secured). So let's take a look at what I did.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Learn about chatbots at upcoming IBM Cloud Meetup

Learn how to chat at the Meetup
Want to quickly and easily build a chatbot, integrate it with Slack, Facebook Messenger or other platforms? Connect the bot with a database? Join me at the IBM Cloud Developers in Stuttgart Meetup on July 17th for an introduction, hands-on session and discussion. And there are drinks, too (I have been promised).

If you followed my blog and the chatbot-related posts, you probably already know what to expect. First, I am going to introduce you to chat / conversation services and the standard terms. Then, we jointly will take a look at the IBM Cloud solution tutorials and the chatbot-related resources. I plan to finish with a demo showing how to build a chatbot from scratch in few minutes and to integrate it into Slack. If you are close to Stuttgart, join me on July 17th for the chatbot session.

If you have feedback, suggestions, or questions about this post, please reach out to me on Twitter (@data_henrik) or LinkedIn.


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