Getting Started with Microsoft Bot Framework

Bot Framework Overview

Microsoft Bot Framework is a set of tools, services, products, and APIs to build and deploy software bots. A bot is a software that interacts with human to provide human functions such as chat, recommendations, travel booking and so on.

Microsoft Bot Framework consists of a number of components including the Bot Builder SDK, Developer Portal and the Bot Directory.

Image source: Microsoft

The Bot Builder SDK is an open source SDK that provides tools and services required to build bots. The bots can be build using .NET, Node.js, or REST API.

The Bot Framework Developer Portal lets you connect your bot(s) seamlessly text/sms to Skype, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Kik, Office 365 mail and other popular services.

The Bot Directory is a public directory of all reviewed bots registered through the Microsoft Developer Portal. Users will be able to discover, try, and add bots to their favorite conversation experiences from the Bot Directory.

Bot Framework Connector

The Microsoft Bot Framework Connector is a communication service that allows us to connect a Bot with multiple communication channels like Email, SMS etc. Microsoft introduced Bot Framework in Build2016. The Microsoft Bot Builder SDK is one of three main components of the Microsoft Bot Framework. The Microsoft Bot Framework provides just what you need to build and connect intelligent bots that interact naturally wherever your users are talking, from text/SMS to Skype, Slack, Office 365 mail and other popular services.
A Bot Builder software development kit (SDK) is available on GitHub under an open source MIT license. These bots can be implemented into a variety of applications, including Slack or Telegram or text messages or even email.

To use Microsoft Bot Framework Connector, you need following things:
  • A Microsoft Account to log into the Bot Framework developer portal.
  • An Azure-accessible REST endpoint exposing a callback for the Connector service.
  • Developer accounts on one or more communication services (such as Skype) where your Bot will communicate. 
Getting Started
These are the installation requirements to use the Bot Framework:
  • Visual Studio 2015
  • Download Bot template: Visual Studio Bot Template - C#
  • Save the zip file to you Visual Studio 2015 template directory “%USERPROFILE%\Documents\Visual Studio 2015\Templates\ProjectTemplates\Visual C#" 
Now start
  • Start Visual Studio 2015
  • From the file menu, select New, then Project
  • Select Visual C# template
  • Select .NET Framework 4.6.1
  • Select Bot Application
  • Enter Name
  • Browse save location
  • Click OK 
Default structure of project looks like this. 

Run the application to see output.

The Bot Framework provides an emulator that lets you test calls to your Bot as if it were being called by the Bot Framework cloud service. To install the Bot Framework Emulator, download it from here.
In this article, I explained how to get started working with Microsoft Bot Framework. In my next article, we will learn how to create a new Bot and run on an emulator and publish it on Microsoft Azure. If you have any question or comments, post a comment on c-sharpcorner comments section.
Next Article: Building Your First Bot