Modern Bot Development with Dynamics 365 – part 2 of 2


In my introductory post, I provided a quick overview of CafeX Live Assist and QnA Maker (Preview). Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) are a common model used in many companies to provide upfront non-interactive customer support. The QnA Maker service gives you the ability to take your existing Company FAQ and create a bot as easily as pasting in a URL. In this post, I would like to take some time to walk you through the setup needed for our bot services.

  1. Go to the QnA Maker website and click Sign In in the top right corner of the page. Then click Create a QnA Service. Complete the form, as seen below with your service name and company FAQ URL. Finally, click Create at the bottom of the page.
  2. Now let’s add a knowledge base to our bot. Navigate to your bot’s knowledge base page. The service will try to pull as many QnA pairs as it can. In my case it found all 48 pairs and populated my knowledge base with them.
  3. Before preparing to deploy your bot, test some of your QnA questions by clicking the Test tab. I ran a simple hello test to make sure my bot can read my messages and can pull an answer from one of my knowledge base questions.

4. In the Settings tab you’ll see options for adding additional URLs to expand your bot knowledge base and options to share your bot service with other members of your team to scale out development.

5. Once you complete this basic proof of concept, click Publish. You’re now able to perform REST calls against you bot allowing you to connect your bot to Dynamics (more information on how to connect your endpoint to Dynamics below).

6. There is a great article published by a Microsoft MVP that details the development process CaféX used with the bot builder JavaScript SDK, the Direct Line channel, and Azure to develop their Live Support bot. The article goes over a QnA scenario we introduced here. Follow steps 3, 4, and 5 in the article and use the QnA API reference to create a bridge from your bot to Dynamics.

Microsoft Bot Framework: More code, deeper Integration with any scenario you can envision

I would also like to discuss deeper integrations and extensibility of the platform. Software engineers can use C# and JavaScript as first-class languages supported by the Bot Builder SDK to develop their bot. They can also use any other language that supports REST API calls and that is not considered a first-class language on the platform.

There are different channels your bot can target using the SDK beyond Dynamics to reach a wider audience. Facebook Messenger, Bind, and Slack are just a few services you can deploy your bot too.

LUIS (Language Understanding Intelligence Service)

A final note on bot intelligence. LUIS is a Microsoft API that gives your bot the intelligence it needs to hold a meaningful conversation with end users. This customizable service is worth looking into for future versions of your bot development process to expand beyond the capabilities that QnA Maker provides out of the box.

Resources

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