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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Top 5 Things to Consider for Building Better Bots top 5 things to consider for building better bots

    There's a lot of conflicting information on best practices when building bots, so we set out to make your chatbot-building life easier in our new comprehensive guide to Intelligent Chatbots.

    That massive resource provides developers, builders, and DOers with an intelligent bot guide, covering bot use cases, descriptions of how bots work, instructions on building and deploying bots, intelligent bot best practices, and more.

    In this post, I’ll summarize some of that guide and tell you what you need to consider to build better bots.

    1. Pick your use case and type of chatbots

    Baymax GIF saying an impersonal greeting

    The purpose of most bots is often to automate tasks, save time, or just to generally make life easier – just like with most other tools and automation. So first, you’ll need to consider your bot’s use case.

    Various industries use chatbots in different ways. Here’s a list of some of the more ...

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Save User Input via Slackbot with Twilio Autopilot, Functions, and MongoDB Copy of Product Template - Autopilot.png

    This step-by-step tutorial will go over how to build a Slackbot using Twilio Autopilot and Twilio Functions, saving the user's answers to a MongoDB Atlas database. If you haven't seen part one of this two-part blog series yet, check it out here and make sure you have your Autopilot Slackbot and Function set up before continuing below.

    Setup MongoDB

    Let's receive and save the data the user gave us. On the MongoDB Cloud Atlas homepage, make a free account. Once logged in, make a new cluster. 

    Under Cloud Provider & Region, select a cloud provider. For this post, I decided to use Azure. Then select a region (one with a free tier may be preferable.)

    For Cluster Tier, you can then select "M0 Sandbox"--your account will only be able to have one cluster at this level. Now you can scroll to the bottom and click the green "Create Cluster" ...

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Call Twilio Functions from iOS in Swift callfuncsfromios.jpg

    There are many things you can do from iOS but sometimes, for example, you may need to make a web request to fetch information. With Twilio Functions you can focus on writing the code that matters without having to maintain a server. This tutorial will show you how to set up a Twilio Function that returns a Pokemon joke or two and then call that Function from an iOS application.

    excitedpika.gif

    Setup

    Before you get started, you'll need

    • a Twilio account to create a Twilio Function 
    • Xcode installed to make a rudimentary iOS app to call the Function
    • A little JavaScript (for Twilio Functions) and Swift knowledge

    Make a Twilio Function 

    The Twilio Function in this tutorial will return a simple hard-coded Pikachu joke. To make that Function, from your Functions page, click the red "+" button to make a new Function.redplusfunc.png

    If this is your first Function, you'll click ...

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Build a Slackbot with Twilio Autopilot slackbotpost1.jpg

    This step-by-step tutorial will go over how to build such a Slackbot with Twilio Autopilot

    Setup

    Before you get started, you'll need a Twilio account to make a Twilio Autopilot bot. Once you have that, first make an Autopilot Assistant.

    1. Go to the Autopilot Console and click "Create a new Assistant."

    2. Give it a name and click "Create". In this case, I wanted to make a Slackbot to handle event sponsorships so I put "Dev-conf-bot".

    To make your Autopilot Assistant a Slackbot, you must do three things.

    1. Make a new public Slack channel. First click the plus button next to Channels on the left-hand side bar of your Slack client.

    Plus button next to channels

     

    Then, name the channel. Make sure it is public as shown below, and click "Create Channel".2. Create a new outgoing webhook integration in Slack to send a POST request containing message details to a URL ...

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Build a Facebook Messenger bot with Twilio Autopilot, Functions, and SendGrid in Node.js sendgridspectraautopilot

    For event-organizers and business-owners, providing quick 24/7 customer service can be tough. I help run a hackathon for women and non-binary people and our Facebook page has to respond to so many questions, like when the event is happening, if we're looking for new organizing team members, when hacker applications open, and more! Answering these can get repetitive and tedious--if only there was a way for us developers to automate the process!

    Never fear, this step-by-step tutorial will show you how to build an intelligent Facebook Messenger bot with Twilio Autopilot, Functions, and SendGrid in Node.js. If the Autopilot assistant gets stuck and the user wants to speak to a human, the assistant will hand off the conversation to the business, connecting them with a human via Email for a seamless customer experience.

    Setup

    Before you get started, you will need to have a Facebook Page for your ...

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Generate Songs with Markov Models using Server-Side Swift, Perfect, and Twilio SMS generate-music-with-swift-twilio

    I like music and coding and one way to make music with code is by predicting words and generating a new song. You can do this with Markov models, as introduced in this last Twilio blog post. Now let's learn how to train a model on a .txt file to generate a song and then generate another song or text via Twilio SMS with server-side Swift and Perfect.

    Set Up

    To code along with this post you should have the following:

    1. A Twilio account to buy a phone number
    2. ngrok, a tool for putting the app running on your local machine on the web
    3. Xcode

    First, make a new Single View project in Xcode and run pod init on the command line in the directory where your Xcode project exists to create a Podfile in order to install the Markov Model library via CocoaPods, as further detailed in the first ...

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Receive and Respond to Text Messages with Server-Side Swift, Perfect, and Twilio perfecttwilioswift.jpg

    Perfect is a versatile open source server-side Swift framework and toolset that makes it easy for developers to quickly create server- and client-side apps. Let's see how easy it is to send SMS with Twilio and Perfect.

    Setup

    To follow along with this post we'll need

    Install Perfect using the Swift Package Manager. Create a new project directory called PerfectSMS and then on the command line in your project directory, run

    swift package init --type executable
    swift package generate-xcodeproj
    

    This generates a package with the same name as your current directory.

    1. Package.swift at the top-level of your project contains your package description and your package’s dependencies.
    2. Sources/ is home to all your Swift source files, including main.swift, which will be the entry point for your project. It currently prints hello, world to the Terminal.
    3. Tests/ will contain unit tests you can ...
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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Intro to Markov Models with Swift Rick Roll Cover Image

    Did you know PageRank, the algorithm Google uses to determine the order of search results, is a type of Markov chain? I first learned about Markov chains and Markov models in my Speech Synthesis and Recognition elective and was amazed at how they are used in speech recognition, music generation, and modeling sequential data to predict the outcome of a basketball game (or almost any competition.)

    What are Markov Chains and Markov Models?

    The most basic type of Markov model is a Markov chain, a model whose next state is only selected based on its current state. Markov chains are used in genetics, finance, economics, game theory, and other fields. An example of one would be predicting tomorrow's weather by looking only at today's weather, not yesterday's.

    weather prediction with a ball gif

    Wikipedia defines a Markov model like so: 

    In probability theory, a Markov model is a stochastic model used to model randomly changing systems ...

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Intro to Speech Recognition in Swift via FlyoverKit speechsiricombined.jpg

    One of my favorite computer science electives was Speech Synthesis and Recognition because Natural Language Processing and Computational Linguistics are becoming more widespread (look at Siri!). In this post we will add speech recognition to select famous landmarks with FlyoverKit in Swift. If you haven't seen part one of this multi-part series, check it out on the Twilio blog here.

    Setup

    For this post you will need Xcode 10, a Mac, and a physical iOS device to test the speech recognition features. To follow along with this post make sure to clone the corresponding GitHub repo here as we'll be adding speech recognition capabilities to it. If you just want to make a simple speech recognition app in Swift, you can use the same code but just need to add a button to your ViewController. Name the button locButton, and create a label called placeLbl. Ignore the code in this ...

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Travel the World with FlyoverKit in Swift flyoverkitheader.jpg

    I was a bit jealous to see some of my peers visit multiple cities and countries after graduation. What if we could build an app that could take us to all those places instead? FlyoverKit is a Swift library that presents you with  "stunning 360° flyover views of various monuments on a MKMapView." This post will go over how to see different sights with FlyoverKit by generating a random location at the click of a button. The Sagrada Familia and the Eiffel Tower (shown below) are just a few of the locales we'll be flying over in this post.

    Sagrada Familia Eiffel Tower

    In part two of this multi-part series, we will go over how to travel the world with FlyoverKit with speech recognition in Swift.

    Setup 

    This post uses Xcode 10 and a Mac which you will need to follow along. Preferably you will also have a physical iOS device to test ...

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