In no more than two years, ChatBots have raised from a techie’s gadget to strong interest from all industries, due to their unique ability to smoothly engage with end-users via messaging. More recently, bots have also found their way inside the corporate walls –  making enterprise workers more productive, locating a SalesForce report, helping book a meeting room, or providing a secured and quick access to business data.  As such, ChatBots have entered most enterprise digitalization journeys, delivering improved end-user support and optimized interactions for business workflows.

To support this effort, industry software vendors have provided off-the-shelf enterprise-ready bots that integrate with common enterprise 3rd party services. These bots can be explored and integrated through the Cisco Spark Depot. Lately, as some enterprises expressed their wish to deploy these new assets on-premises, the Cisco Spark Ambassadors community has come up with a set of opensource, self-deployable Bot Starter Kits. These bots interface with popular products such as AppDynamics, Jira, SalesForce, ServiceNow, Trello…

You get the message…if you’ve been contemplating taking advantage of the growth and maturity of the ChatBot industry, there is no better time to jump on the bandwagon, and join the ‘ChatBot’ developer community. To help you on this journey, DevNet has assembled a set of learning labs that will take you from zero to creating and deploying enterprise ChatBots.

Where to start?
The “Create Cisco Spark Bots” module of the Getting started with Cisco Spark API learning track will ramp you up with the skills necessary to understand ‘ChatBot’ architecture principles, and have a full-featured Enterprise Bot up and running in less than 90 minutes.

Since each lab can be taken individually, we noticed that experienced developers tend to take a shortcut and jump straight to the advanced lab: “Create conversational Chat Bots with Botkit.” The latter leverages the Botkit framework that comes among the most popular community libraries to build chat bots. Moreover, Botkit is largely used by the Cisco Spark Ambassadors Starter Kits mentioned above: don’t miss the opportunity to dig into the sources of these community bot samples in search for inspiring code blocks.

Throughout the labs, guidance is provided for Javascript. If you are new to Node.js, the introductory lab will help you setup your Javascript developer environment. Nervertheless, the concepts taught all along the module apply to other programming languages. If you’re willing to continue your bot development journey with another programming language, we recommend you browse the awesome Cisco Spark github repository where the community has gathered a curated list of SDKs, bot frameworks and code samples for C#, Golang, PHP, Python, Ruby…

Join the Bot Developer Community, and promote your work
Equipped with these new bot skills, you’ll certainly be interested to join a developer community sharing your nascent passion for bots. Apply to join the Cisco Spark Ambassadors and make sure to be identified as a professional bot developer.

Finally, we recommend you take the time to promote your bots on the Cisco Spark Depot  where they will have a better chance to meet their audience …. well more chances than in your Christmas tree 😉

We’d love to hear what you think. Ask a question or leave a comment below.
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Stève Sfartz

Principal Architect

Cisco Developer Relations