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Learn About the Azure Bot Service

The Microsoft Bot Service provides a platform for building and publishing bots. You can use the Bot Builder SDK or the Azure Bot Service to create your bot and publish it as a web service. Then you can make your bot available through one or more channels. The bot connector service handles the message exchange between your bot and the channels through which users engage with it.

Currently, the bot services and SDK support the creation of bots using C# or JavaScript as the development languages. Creating your bot in JavaScript will require working in Node.js. When we look closer at these two main components, we note that the Bot Builder SDK is what you will use for developing your bots and the Bot Service is what you will use to connect your bot to the different channels you wish to support.

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Bot Development Lifecycle
The typical bot development cycle follows a pattern of:

  • Plan – think about what you want your bot to accomplish. Why are you creating the bot in the first place? It’s recommended that you follow the guidance found on design guidelines page, https://aka.ms/AA3m39t.
  • Build – you can create your bot in the Azure portal or by using Visual Studio and C# to developer with .NET. You can also use Node.js and JavaScript to build your bot as well.
  • Test – You should always test your bot before you release it. There are currently two recommended testing mechanisms:
    1. Test your bot locally with the emulator. The Bot Framework Emulator is a stand-alone app that not only provides a chat interface, but also debugging and interrogation tools to help understand how and why your bot does what it does. The emulator can be run on a locally alongside your in-development bot application.
    2. Test your bot on the web. Once configured through the Azure portal your bot can also be reached through a web chat interface. The web chat interface is a great way to grant access to your bot to testers and other people who do not have direct access to the bot’s running code.
  • Publish – Once testing is complete, you can publish your bot to Microsoft Azure or host in on your own web service or data center
  • Connect – You can connect your bot to many different channels for users to gain access to the bot such as:
    • Facebook
    • Messenger
    • Skype
    • Slack
    • Microsoft Teams
    • SMS/Text
    • Cortana
  • Evaluate – Once your bot is released, you should monitor the bot for sustained engineering. You may find users’ interactions may be different than your initial plan so you might find it necessary to improve the bot over time.

Compliance Considerations
The Azure Bot Service can address your compliance concerns as well because the service is now compliant with the following:

  • ISO 27001:2013 and ISO 27018:2014
  • PCI DSS
  • Microsoft’s HIPAA BAA
  • SOC 1 and SOC 2

Interested in taking a closer look at this along with Bot Design Principles, Your Bot Development Environment, and a walkthrough on creating a Basic Bot in the Azure Portal? Join us for (AI-100) Designing and Implementing an Azure AI Solution which will help to Build Azure Data & AI Skills as an Azure AI Engineer.