Chatbots are the unctuous umami flavoring to modern enterprise-grade apps. The AI in the chatbot is the secret sauce. What you need is the recipe. A chatbot adds that extra polish to your app, if it’s appropriate to your user base and the app’s purpose. At the most fundamental level the chatbot is simply a computer program which simulates human conversation and is used to engage with your users, taking your app’s human interaction to your user in a very personal way. Implemented correctly, we are able to automate repetitive and bureaucratic tasks which leaves we developers free to focus on – and hopefully solve – the more complex problems.
Why add a chatbot to my app?
Many companies are examining various processes, such as frequently asked questions and initial trouble-shooting or triaging of support inquiries which they then to put in a flow diagram and structure the requests and responses in the form of a written, or sometimes spoken, dialogue.
When chatbots go rogue – “let’s eat Grandma”
The hard part about chatting is understanding what is being meant, not what is actually being said. The best and most successful chatbots employ artificial intelligence to help us with the tricky job of understanding whether “let’s eat Grandma” or “let’s eat, Grandma” is an appropriate thing to say prior to a family meal, or an invitation to casual cannibalism. Poor Grandma.
Adding scalable AI can help make your app make sense of the nonsense
Joking aside, the AI still needs to work out what the intent of a sentence is. If I type “my internet is not working” the AI needs to understand that “the internet” is something that may or may not function and that the internet not working means it is not functioning but the phase “my dad does not work” means he is not currently employed rather than he is non-functional.
In a conversation, there are many ways to ask the same thing and it is impossible to prepare your chatbot manually, to predict all of them. Here is where Artificial Intelligence takes our apps to the next level. With it, even asking in a way you did not predict, you get correct answers. You could create your own AI, but far better to use an external tool like Watson (IBM), Google Ai, or Wit.Ai (Facebook).
Let’s summarize a menu of a few key ingredients (Grandma is not on the list) which, when combined, will allow you to add a fully-functioning chatbot, with Ai, using Delphi.
AI Chatbot Ingredient Number 1: The RESTful API
The first is step is to know how to consume and offer API endpoints in Delphi. The majority of the platforms that you will use to talk with someone are external. This means that you need to send the message from your ChatBot to them. Usually, you will need a Rest API server. Also, you will probably need to consume their REST API endpoints. A great tool to offer API endpoints and create your REST API server is Delphi MVC Framework. It is simple, but robust at the same time. You can check the full implementation of the Delphi MVC Framework here. Consume REST API endpoints are easy with Delphi, you can use the Delphi REST Debugger. You can check a simple way in this post.
AI Chatbot Ingredient Number 2: The Chat Platform
The second step is to choose the platform that you will use to communicate with the user. You can use telegram, WhatsApp, twitch, Facebook/Messenger, or even a website. To communicate with those platforms, you will need to consume their APIs. But some of them, allow it by third-party services. Whatsapp for example, only allows certain third-party companies to consume their API directly, so, you need to communicate with the API of the third-party company. A great service to use is Twilio. You can see how to communicate with WhatsApp using Twilio in Delphi, here. With this communication, you can already build a chatbot. It will not be robust because you will need to predict the conversation. Of course, there are ways to simplify it, like using Menus, to guide the user.
AI Chatbot Ingredient Number 3: The Artificial Intelligence
The last step, to make your chatbot, is implementing the Artificial Intelligence. Technically, this is almost the most simple step, if you use third-party services. You will send the question of the user, get the response from the AI, and do what you need to do with that. The trick part is, you need to train the AI. AI platforms have their own way to train their AI, you can check their website and see how it works. A simple platform but also, very robust, is Wit.AI. In a few steps, you can already know how to train your Artificial Intelligence. Then, you just need to send the question and get the answer. To use Wit.AI with Delphi, you can check here.
In this post, you saw, in three steps, how simple is to create a chatbot in Delphi. All chatbots, started this way. Rest API servers, the chat platform, and the AI. Now, you know how to create and consume REST API endpoints, connect with WhatsApp through Twilio and implement Artificial Intelligence with Wit.Ai in Delphi.
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