Botonic Framework Documentation

FAQs

1. How does Botonic and Hubtype relate to each other?

Botonic is an open source project created by the team behind Hubtype, a startup that helps companies engage with their customers on messagong apps.
You can host your Botonic bot anywhere, however, Hubtype offers the best developer experience when it comes to deploying and integrating your bot.

2. Can I edit my chat  styles?

You can't. Botonic runs on Node and you connect it to messaging applications like Messenger or Telegram. You can think of these apps as your GUI, so there's no way you can set their styles or control how messages are displayed in there.
The only exception are webviews, which some of these apps (like Facebook Messenger) allow you to embed html pages inside their chat window.

We're also working on adding support for web chat (JS SDK) and in-app chat (iOS/Android SDK). In these cases you'll be able to customise the look and feel of the chat window.

3. If Botonic runs on Node, why did you choose a frontend framework like React to build upon?

We think that it doesn't matter where your actual code *runs*. What we care about is that chatbots are conversational interfaces and have the same role as other interfaces (i.e. graphical ones like websites or apps), which is to get input from the user, send it to the backend and present a response back to the user.

For this reason, we think that the same people that today are building graphical interfaces will be the ones that tomorrow will build conversational interfaces, that is, frontend devs. They should be able to reuse the skills and tools they already know and love, so they can be more productive from day one. With all this in mind, React was the obvious choice. It has the right abstractions, tooling and community so we think building on top of it is a winning bet.

4. How is Botonic different from other open-source bot frameworks like Microsoft Bot Framework, Rasa.ai, Botpress, Botfuel, etc?

There are several differences. The first one is that Botonic is based on React, so if you already know React you'll feel really productive from day one. Actually, even if you don't know React, you'll find it's really easy to learn! We designed it to have a smooth learning curve without compromising the ability to build powerful chatbots. Other frameworks make you learn a whole new set of concepts and abstractions before you can build anything.

Second, the way we handle webviews is really unique. We're convinced that webviews will be a key element in the chatbots of the future, however, today's frameworks make it difficult to work with them if not ignore them completely. In Botonic you can have all the elements of your conversational app in the same codebase.

Finally, we offer a cloud where you can host your Botonic bots and integrate it with all kind of 3rd party apps (messaging/voice channels, analytics, logs, helpdesks, etc). Just type "botonic deploy" in your terminal and forget about setting up and scaling your infrastructure.

5. How is Botonic different from AI/NLP services like Google Dialogflow, IBM Watson, Microsoft Luis, etc?

You can use any of these services to add Natural Language Understanding (NLU) capabilities to your Botonic bot. Think of it as a piece inside a larger architecture. You can, of course, build your bot entirely with Dialogflow, for instance, but there are many scenarios where this is not the right choice.

First, modern conversational experiences mix decision trees, NLP, webviews and human handoff. The AI-centric approach of tools like Dialogflow might not be the best for your use case. Actually, 80% of successful chatbots in WeChat are guided experiences (decision trees with no AI at all).

Second, if you're a developer, you'll feel more comfortable using a framework like Botonic that lets you build and test your bot locally, have it version controlled and deployable with a command-line interface. This means that Botonic integrates better into the developer workflow (Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment, etc), on the other hand, Dialogflow and such force you to create/edit your bot in the cloud, which might be more suitable for non-technical people.

And last but not least, Botonic is open-source!

6. What channels do you support?

Botonic currently supports Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Twitter DMs, and web/in-app chat SDKs.
Coming soon: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, KiK, Line, WeChat.

Need another integration? Send us an email at hi@botonic.io

7. How do you deal with NLP/NLU?

If you need NLP you'll have to integrate Dialogflow or Watson for now. The integration is super easy and allows you to use regular expressions to route intents to actions. Check out the NLU example in our github repo.

Also, we're working hard to bring an open-source NLU module to our framework so you don't lock yourself in one of these services... stay tuned!

8. Where can I deploy my Botonic bots?

The most convenient and easy way to put your bot in production is to deploy it to hubtype.com cloud. We set up all the infrastructure you need, scale automatically and manage 3rd party integrations.

Nevertheless, Botonic bots are just a node app, so you should be able to run it and deploy anywhere. However, you'll need to do some developement to make the integration with messaging channels work.
We will create and open-source the node libraries that allow you to connect to messaging apps at some point. If you want to contribute to this effort, please let us know at hi@botonic.io.

9. What is your pricing?

As an open source project Botonic is free to use.
We make our living out of Hubtype and consulting for enterprise clients that need our expertise in building bots.

10. Can you help me build my bot?

Of course! Send us an email at hi@botonic.io with your requirements and we'll schedule a call with you.