Releasing Bot Engine v1

28 Jun 2016 news

Today we are releasing Bot Engine v1, with significant improvements over the early beta we announced two months ago. Since launch, we have received an immense amount of feedback, and once again we are very grateful to the developer community. You have been testing and using Bot Engine knowing it was a Beta and far from being perfect. A lot of you reached out to us and provided us with great feedback.

The most important things we learned are:

  • It took too many stories to cover the basic scenarios of your bot.
  • It was not straightforward to implement some basic common flows such as slot filling.
  • It was hard to predict the pace of learning of the bot, and painful when a conversation that just followed the scenario of a story precisely failed.
  • Developers need to version-control, archive and share their bots.

We tried to address this with the following changes:

  • We added branches, bookmarks and jumps in stories: now stories are full-fledged graphs instead of mere linear sequences. This enables you to describe the basic scenarios of your bots with a smaller number (often, one) of stories.
  • We strengthened the initial overfitting: when a user follows the scenario of a story, the bot will 100% stick to the story.
  • We removed the merge action to simplify stories. You can still include a merge action if you’d like, but this pattern is not forced anymore.
  • We added examples of implementation of standard flows, such as slot-based or flow-based.
  • We added an import/export feature so that you can version-control, archive and share your bots. We believe this will also empower devlopers to build their stories and share best practices directly in JSON.
  • We introduced Quick Replies in the bot’s answer and renamed “Bot says” into “Bot sends” in preparation for richer messages.

You can discover the new Bot Engine through the fully updated Quickstart and Recipes.

This new version is backward-compatible, so the bots you’ve already built will continue to work as before.

We are still actively working on several features, as well as overall quality. We recently noticed that some built-in entities (like wit/location) were not as accurate as before. This is due to a huge influx of new developers (45,000 now!) who bring some “noise” to the training dataset of these entities. Keeping a high-bar of quality is important to us, and we won’t rest until Wit performs at its best. We use Wit internally at Facebook for several projects, so we need these improvements as much as you do.

We feel this release is a major milestone for Bot Engine. We’ve been incredibly inspired by the experiences that you are trying to enable and we hope these features will be major enablers to your efforts. A lot has been written about what Bots can and cannot (yet) do, and we feel privileged to help you explore the next frontier.

Thank you again for your patience and your contagious enthusiasm!

Team Wit