New Tools to Make Development of Zoom Chatbots Easier

Benjamin Dean
Oct 24, 2019 · 4 min read

Are you considering developing a chat app to operate with ZoomChat? This blog post will introduce you to new tools for developers that will save you time and help you to code happy!

Zoom Chat is a robust business messaging product built-in to the Zoom client, and available at no extra charge to all Zoom customer plans. Because users keep the Zoom client open while working, developers have a strong business case to develop Zoom chat apps that provide either handy notifications, or time-saving custom chat commands.

Before today, developers typically built their own app code framework from the ground-up, and created chat bot messages by writing JSON structures to define their message contents. This experience lacked efficiency.

Despite this extra effort, developers have successfully developed and published chatbots to the Zoom App Marketplace. You can quickly find these chat apps by visiting Zoom App Marketplace and filtering by Zoom Chat as the product, as shown below.

Filtering Zoom App Marketplace app listings to display apps built for Zoom Chat.

Thanks to our engineering team, I get the privilege of sharing new features and tools to make the development of chat apps a much more pleasant experience!

Chatbot Message Customization with Markdown

My fellow developer advocate, Tommy Gaessler, has done a fantastic job writing a treasure-trove of developer documentation for Customizing Chatbot Messages. (don’t forget to check out Tommy’s recent article, How to Build a Zoom Chatbot).

What excites me most is Customizing Chatbot Messages with Markdown! I love Markdown, and every developer I know loves Markdown (at least a little). I remember trying to add even a basic-degree of typography or styling to my chatbot messages before Markdown support was available, and trust me…this easy-to-use addition is a dramatic improvement!

As an extra bonus, the Markdown syntax provides a way to @mention a person or group, with interactive hyperlinking, a convenient feature for more dynamic chatbots.

Expanded Doc Section for Chat

Tommy’s upgrade to the developer documentation revealed new features available in chatbot messages of which I was previously unaware: Form Fields, Dropdowns, Buttons, Attachments, and Multi-Section elements. These elements go beyond basic typography and provide developers with the ability to add interactive user interface widgets to Zoom Chat messages.

Announcing Zoom Chatbot Builder Kit

Building on the knowledge about customizing chatbot messages, two of our Software Engineers, Zach and Fox, have built a phenomenal developer tool that will save you tons of time while building chatbots for Zoom. I am thrilled to share (drum-roll) the Zoom Chatbot Builder Kit!

Brand New — Zoom Chatbot Builder Kit for the Zoom Developer Community!

Ho-lee-mo-lee! This tool has all the bells and whistles a developer could want while developing chatbots for Zoom!

What does the Chatbot Builder Kit do for developers?

  1. Accelerates Learning for Developers — Removes nearly all the complexity of learning Zoom Chatbot Message JSON customizations! (makes learning while developing a breeze)
  2. Drag-n-Drop Message Template Builder — As you build your chatbot message, the tool automatically authors the representative JSON for you in real-time
  3. Built-In JSON Schema Reference — Every chatbot message element type available for Zoom Chatbots has its JSON Schema documented just by clicking the help bubble over the element type!
  4. Drag-n-Decorate — Decorator attributes that you add to any of your message content to make text or fields editable, add links, or append sections footers — in a blink of an eye
  5. Real-time code editor — so you can modify the generated templates and preview your changes immediately
  6. Code-Generator — Finished building your message template and want to run the code? No problem, click the “Create Bot Code” button, then “Start” on the create sendmessage Node.js code and you’re immediately presented with step-by-step directions; you get customized message template code for the message you just built, included in the stub-code! This is by far the most valuable tool for developers just getting started with developing Zoom Chatbot apps (and my favorite feature of the Chatbot Builder Kit).
  7. Quick-Installation to Send Messages — Just click on the “Install Application” button to install the app into your Zoom Account to test delivery of the message using the format you’ve provided. Once installed, open Zoom Chat for the bot and enter build command. Then, when the Chatbot Builder Kit App opens, make sure to set (at the top-level of the JSON message, the is_markdown_support property, and set it to “true” if you want to include Zoom’s supported Markdown for messages as documented here: https://marketplace.zoom.us/docs/guides/chatbots/customizing-messages/message-with-markdown
To enable Markdown, include the `is_markdown_support` property at the global-level to your message, and set it true as displayed above.

Here’s the Code-Generator; I couldn’t help but sharing a screenshot of this amazing tool (who knows, perhaps there is a video on how to use this amazing tool in the near future???).

Zoom Chatbot Builder Kit — Code-Generator screenshot showing the UI for this handy developer feature

These new brilliant developer tools simplify your life as a developer building chatbots for The Zoom App Marketplace.

Make sure to note that not all Markdown syntax is supported, see this documentation for a complete list: https://marketplace.zoom.us/docs/guides/chatbots/customizing-messages/message-with-markdown

To get started building your chatbot (or any other app), visit: https://marketplace.zoom.us and remember, you can always get answers to your development questions on our developer forums at https://devforum.zoom.us

Code Happy!

Zoom Developer Blog

All the ways you can join, build, and create on the Zoom…