Building my first slack bot: Birth of Margo

Bots: Before and Now

When was the last time you were having a conversation with a computer before? Most of us will come into the category where we haven’t. The days aren’t far when customer support will be provided by dedicated bots built using cutting edge ML techniques and backed by state of the art NLP research.

If you have been following the latest trends software industry. Bots and VR are the thing as stated by a lot of big shot companies. I mean just look at these crazy articles on techcrunch. Bots have the talk of the town since some time now and developers are taking a fair advantage of this to promote their bot in the market.

What got me into bots

Well to be honest. I am quite a regular to techcrunch’s website. And when I got to know that they had released a telegram bot for their service, it didn’t take me too long to setup the bot for my telegram ID.

I was quite cynical at first about how the experience would turn out. But surprisingly. The interface was really intuitive and didn’t make any assumptions in the case for the user.

The bot helps you stay on top of the topics and stories you care about the most. You can subscribe to different topics, authors or sections of the site, and the bot will send you news articles from TechCrunch about the things you are interested in the most.

In short I was really impressed and didn’t regret installing it.

image courtesy: TechCrunch

So what’s the deal with Margo

Back at SRM Search Engine, we manage our own single dedicated server for our service. And sometimes, it goes down due to some or the other reasons. Sometimes for the insane amount of data that we crunch on it or when we are playing around with a new technology which requires some downtime.

The idea for Margo came to me while having a chat with one of my college mates in our slack channel. Oh no, we were not talking about bots! Something totally different, but well I can’t help it.

Reading the docs for the Slack API simultaneously and working on my bot. I had a MVP ready in about 2 hours. The next 1 hour was spent refactoring the app.

Here’s a glimpse to what it does

Margo in action on our slack channel

More functionalities are coming through over.

Here’s a link to the project : Margo

Bot Builder Meetup, New Delhi

So this weekend, me and some of my friends header over to [Bot builder workshop meetup, Delhi] for the fun of it. We had Beerud Sheth, the CEO of Gupshup give a talk about how bots were the next big thing.

All in all we had a really good time and met some really interesting guys.

The CEO of Gupshup doing a live demo of their product streamed from the Mumbai Office

The meetup was being held over at the co-working space, innov8. And I must say, they have a really cool workplace setup. See for yourself.

Reception area