We have all used and experienced chatbots. Chatbots not only help customers get requisite information easily and early, but are also beneficial for the businesses. For instance, chatbots save employees for other, more critical tasks where the physical presence of employees is mandatory. Powered by AI (Artificial Intelligence), chatbots are available 24 x 7, can handle multiple inquiries and customers at the same time, and are quite cost-effective. Chatbots can also be integrated with analytics and help a business grow in other ways as well.
Chatbot development frameworks are applications that help in the creation and development of chatbots. Some of the best of these are listed and described (in brief) below.
A good tool and one of the best chatbot development frameworks in terms of support and availability of APIs, DialogFlow can help in the building of the omnichannel chatbots, with the least coding involved. The framework supports NLP (Natural Language Processing) in more than 20 languages and messaging channels, including Skype, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Telegram, and Viber, among others. You can design both chatbots as well as the voice apps (like Alexa Skills) through it. Google is behind DialogFlow, and the popular Chatbot Development tools are used for building the actions of millions of devices using Google Assistant.
2. Microsoft Bot Framework
Wit.ai has comprehensive capabilities, and apart from the creation of chatbots, the framework can also be used for creating voice interfaces of mobile application and home electronics, and for automating the wearable devices. The free-of-cost chatbot development framework (for commercial uses as well) has SDKs, including Ruby and Python, among others, and the company is now acquired by Facebook. Developers can configure the intents and entities, and HTTP API provides for connection to the chatbots and even other applications.
4. Amazon Lex
The service is used for building conversational interfaces for applications. The technology here is the same as that being used in Alexa. Because the scaling is automatic, the developers are not needed to manage the infrastructure. The console has the adequate capability, and the chatbots can be built, tested, and deployed directly from it. The bots can also be published on a variety of messaging platforms like Kik, Facebook Messenger, and others. The chatbot development service has the SDKs for the Android and iOS platforms, and hence developers can use it for developing mobile apps as well.
5. IBM Watson
The IBM Watson Assistant and combination of chatbot development tools
can be used for building chatbots for businesses in a shorter time. It has more than 1 million Wikipedia terms, communicates with precision, expertise, and speed and also uses Machine Learning for responding to the natural languages. The inputs can be made through robots, websites, mobile devices, and messaging applications. The framework has support for around 13 languages, and the SDKs in iOS, Python, and Java can be used. IBM offers Watson in premium, standard, and free forms.
The framework has an AI-offered-as-a-service model. The technologies used include ALICE (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity- an NLP chatbot) and the AI Markup Languages (AIML). Visualization is possible through new features, and the bots can be integrated on Cortana, messaging and application platforms, and the websites. The framework offers access to SDKs, including Node. Js, Java, Ruby, Python, Go, and PHP. Developers get access to both paid modules/libraries (including Mitsuku Module), as well as open-source and free libraries, including Base Bot and Rosie, among others.
The open-source, dual license framework BotPress has the UI through which non-techies and developers can manage the chatbots post-deployment. Some of the features of this modular-architecture framework are natural language understanding, editor (for flexible flow management system), multi-channels (can be used on all major platforms including WeChat and Skype among others), and providence of actionable analytics. Building and debugging the complex conversation flow is easy through the Flow Builder and the Dialog Manager features. The chatbots can also be customized through the addition of business logic or the APIs. Further, BotPress also allows you to build the bot locally and deploy it to any cloud hosting platform.
Botkit.ai integrates with the NLP engine, has the visual conversation builder for building bots, and allows you to add the plugins to bots following the needs. It is a highly popular and leading chatbot developing framework powering more than 10,000 bots. It connects with Cisco Spark, Slack, IBM Watson, Microsoft, Glitch, and Facebook seamlessly. Botkit has been acquired by Microsoft now, and the SDK is based on NodeJS. It also has the plugin for web chat that can be embedded into websites. However, you will have to host the created chatbot on your server when you use Botkit, while it can be used with all important NLP platforms.
9. Rasa Stack
Rasa is an open-source chatbot development framework with major components, including RASA Core (for creating the conversational chatbots) and RASA NLU (for understanding natural language). The core uses machine learning and allows for sophisticated dialogues.
The framework is preferred by businesses as it provides for keeping all the components at home (or inhouse hosting). It also offers more flexibility as Rasa NLU, and Rasa Core (written in Python) can be used separately. While it is open-source, there is also a paid/premium version of the framework called a Rasa platform. There is support for Slack, Rocket Chat and Facebook Messenger, among other apps. Other features include a graphical user interface, APIs, and the presence of a customer success program (that includes enterprise-grade support).
10. SAP Conversational AI
The messaging platform is used predominantly for developers of chatbots. The platform has tools for the different life cycle stages of bot development like development, testing, hosting, analytics, and monitoring. Hence it becomes easy and time saving for the developers to use the framework. The two essential components of the framework include the Bot Platform and the Messaging API. The API will allow the developers to publish the chatbots on more than 30 channels, while you can also use the bot templates that are pre-built and ready to be picked up. The free to use platform also has the graphical editor for the requisite conversation flow.
The good part is that many of these best chatbot development frameworks have a free version, and hence developers can save on costs while building robust apps. However, there may not be a perfect chatbot development framework for all purposes, and businesses and developers need to decide which one suits their requirements best.
James Grills is a technical writer with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of mobile application development and IoT technology. He is a marketing advisor – currently associated with Cumulations Technologies, a Mobile app development company in Bangalore.