Fiddling with a Chatbot interface

First things first: The whole topic of chatbots in general already has a beard and in my opinion it was never worth the hype it initially generated.. But I came across a case where I think a chatbot can be helpful. Or at least supports me for prototyping purposes.

Let’s get started. First I googled for slim open source chatbots with a good to read documentation and a big community which continuously backs the project.

Eventually I have found Botpress. It looked quite alright for my purpose so I gave it a try. There are many pros I’d like to quickly discuss at this point. First it uses (and of course installs) a relatively lightweight node bundle. Secondly you are able to create nodes and flows in a UI production environment and can test it constantly.

early stage screenshot from the process of building a prototype

Here is the contra: I did not have any idea on working with a database. Botpress uses SQLight3 which comes with the bundle. But of you are – like me – a designer, a SQL expression looks like hieroglyphs. The documentation does a good job in introducing the concepts of all that. But in the end there are blockers everywhere for non-programmers.

This should not stop us from what we are trying to archive: building a quick prototype for a project. I gave myself one full work day to realise this prototype and another to test it on colleagues here at the office.

The Botpress Chatbot prototype

Right now I am where I want to be in order to quickly test this internally. I will today add some more questions. One big problem is still bugging me: how do I store values from the answers in order to work with them at the very end? Because thats the concept of this project: Every answer to a question is connected to a specific value. At the very end of the questionnaire there will be kind of a analysis that spits out one recommendation.