We analyze the best frameworks under an approach for technical users and developers.
There are many chatbot platforms that can facilitate the development of your chatbot, but most are aimed at non-technical users and that usually means that your bot lives on their servers. If we take into account that few startups last more than two years and that some are absorbed by large multinationals, you may not be interested that the operation of your chatbot depends on a company that may not last long.
Chatbot Platform vs Chatbot Framework
For small bots or those that are mainly based on providing content, using a platform is ideal , the logic of the bot is very easy to structure, in many they provide an understanding engine and you can publish in several channels with the push of a button. If you are interested in this type of chatbots, I recommend Xenioo for chatbots and Voiceflow for voicebots.
However, for all those more complex cases, which need to use a database, use certain specific services or be implemented with other software, we are much more interested in using a development framework.
3 Points To Analyze
There are many parts involved in developing a chatbot, but we can focus on the following points: development tools, deployment and understanding .
Development and hosting can usually be done with any programming language and using a local server, although if a platform offers an SDK that facilitates development and hosting in the cloud better than better.
The understanding of the conversations often be more problematic, especially if you’re not part of a large company that can afford a team of engineers NLP / NLU and that will be the key point of the platform.
Doing a search for the best chatbot frameworks on the market, the ones that stand out the most and are most competitive are the following:
1. Best Chatbot Development Framework: Microsoft Bot Framework
Developed by Microsoft, Bot Framework is the most complete solution and is ideal for large enterprises with developers looking for serious customizations and robust capabilities . It is the most complete and powerful solution, with an arsenal of connectivity behind it.
Use Microsoft Bot Builder, an SDK that provides a set of predefined functions and classes in two languages: C# and Node.js. Actions for each user attempt must be created from the app side, which means that non-technical team members might have a difficult time collaborating. It has some very useful tools, such as Bot Directory, a repository with a lot of chatbot examples already created, and Bot Emulator, an emulator that makes it very easy to test the chatbot.
It requires users to sign in with an Azure account, from there developers can use the Azure Bot Service as a resource to build, test, deploy, and connect chatbots. You can also use Microsoft’s built-in IDE directly to write your code.
Deploy the messaging platforms
Microsoft Bot Framework has Bot Connector , a service that allows you to deploy your chatbot on many channels, including Facebook Messenger, Skype, Teams, Slack and Telegram.
Natural language understanding
Microsoft created LUIS ( Language Understanding Intelligent Service ) to provide its own natural language processing service from Bot Builder and also for its personal assistant, Cortana. As a distinctive point, LUIS allows the bots you make to take advantage of resources from a huge library of NLP knowledge.
2. Best Chatbot Development Framework: Dialogflow
It is google’s natural language understanding and processing service, with fewer tools than its Microsoft competitor, but that is not always necessarily a bad thing, Dialogflow is lighter and simpler and gives you just what you need:
Dialogflow has a multi-language SDK, multi-language support, and online code editing. It offers two very useful APIs:
- Detect Intent API to query the user’s intention in a text from any external medium.
- Agent API to dynamically change your agent, being able to create intentions at your convenience without having to use the web interface.
You can also host your bot on Google Cloud and expand its functionality by taking advantage of all the tools of this platform. For example, you can use AutoML to load a dataset of conversations and have your chatbot learn from them.
An important point to note here is Chatbase. Google is already an expert in web and user analysis thanks to its Google Analytics platform and with Chatbase it provides similar functionality and visibility but for chatbots, providing information on how, when and who is using your chatbot.
Deployment on messaging platforms
With the integrations function you can deploy your chatbot on a lot of platforms just like its Microsoft competitor, but the most remarkable thing about Dialogflow in this aspect is that it allows you to turn your chatbot into a voicebot by integrating it with Google Assistant and you can also export the model your bot to be compatible with Alexa, and although this last option is not perfect, it can save you a lot of work when making a cross-platform chatbot. Only using Dialogflow can you make a chatbot that works on the main messaging platforms, on one of the main voice platforms and that also makes it easier for you to develop your Alexa skill.
Natural Language Understanding
This is the main part of Dialogflow, its natural language understanding service is very easy to use, largely because of how simple and intuitive its interface is, creating a conversation is very fast and there are many default options that you can reuse. An interesting tool it provides is the Knowledge Connector, which allows your chatbot to scan documents and articles to give automated responses, although this option only works on bots in English at the moment.
3. Best Chatbot Development Framework: Amazon Lex
Lex is Amazon’s solution to compete in the chatbot sector, despite being the market leaders in voicebots with Alexa, having a service for text platforms is very important to not be left behind.
Bots built with Lex can be seamlessly integrated with the Alexa Skill Kit (ASK), which contains tens of thousands of skills with whatever developers teach you to do beyond its default functionality. You can export your schema directly to ASK, creating a version of your bot that can communicate via voice without any additional development steps. Plus there’s an SDK in many different programming languages and tons of tutorials, courses, and webinars provided by Amazon for free.
Developers can use the AWS Management Console to access Lex and create, store, and host bots in the Amazon cloud with Amazon Lambda in a very simple and convenient way.
Deployment on Messaging Platforms
Amazon Lex allows you to deploy a chatbot on fewer platforms than its competitors, the two most notable here are Facebook Messeger and Slack, but what stands out the most is in voice capabilities . A bot built with Lex can easily integrate with Alexa , the most popular voice assistant (Alexa maintains a three-to-one market share advantage against Google Home, the closest leading competitor). This allows developers to create bots that can automatically process voice or text input interchangeably.
Natural Language Understanding
Amazon Lex’s interface for creating dialogs is more basic than Dialogflow and Bot Framework and has fewer tools, but it is fully functional and easier to use for beginners.
These three chatbot development frameworks cover most of the needs when developing a chatbot for small business:
- If you belong to a large corporation, you need a complete and robust chatbot solutions and your main target is text messaging platforms, without a doubt the best option is Microsoft’s Bot Framework.
- If you prefer a lighter but highly functional service and your interest is more oriented towards a multiplatform chatbot with text and voice, your best option is Dialogflow.
- And if you don’t want to complicate the development too much, you need only the basic natural language understanding tools and you are looking for the most commercial messaging platforms both text (Facebook Messenger) and voice (Alexa), your best option is undoubtedly Amazon Lex.
The ecosystem of chatbots does not stop evolving and is constantly changing, there are more and more services and solutions that facilitate its development and there are many more platforms and frameworks on the market, without a doubt some of them deserve a mention, take a look!!
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