Using the pb-html package, you can now easily deploy an application which provides a web interface for chatting with your chatbot.
If you’re familiar with the now deprecated AIML 1.0 system, you’ll probably remember how easy it was to publish your chatbot to a webpage using the “Custom HTML” tab in your dashboard. Now our APIs available via chatbots.io allow you integrate your chatbots into any application, however the “Custom HTML” feature was removed to protect the credentials and usage of your chatbot.
The pb-html package is a simple web server that can be deployed to Heroku with the click of a button. We’ve also provided a reusable, customizable chat interface for end-users to access and chat with your chatbot.
First, sign up for an account on Heroku. Then visit the Github repository and click the “Deploy to Heroku” button. You’ll be asked to provide your Pandorabots API credentials (it’s assumed you already have a plan and have deployed a chatbot). Once you’ve clicked “Deploy for Free” and Heroku has built and launched your app, you may visit the site and start talking to your chatbot.
Our other integrations feature Redis as a way to manage your users over time. This works by mapping the user’s phone number or username (depending on the platform) to a unique Pandorabots client_name, allowing the bot to remember information about the user in future messages and conversations.
With the browser, there is no phone number or username by which to identify the end-user. Instead, this implementation stores the client_name as a local variable, which is cleared when the user reloads the page. In other words, the chatbot will remember the user throughout the course of their conversation, but not after they have left the interface.
To mitigate this difference, you could store the client_name in a cookie so that it is saved even when the user leaves the page. A better option might be to implement some sort of authentication of your users, so that they can log in to a session that stores their client_name in memory. There is no “right” way to do this — it all depends on the scope of your project!
If you’d like to customize your app, or make contributions to this project, first clone the repository. Once inside, run npm start to launch the app. You can then run npm run watch in a new terminal window to automatically build your frontend application when changes are saved.
Some base styles are provided in src/public/css/base.css. There is also a file
src/public/css/style.css provided for you to do custom styling to the chat interface.
Originally published at blog.pandorabots.com on March 14, 2016.