Wit community update: February 2017

10 Feb 2017 community

Responding to feedback on our FB group, we wrote a small community update to reflect a bit on our journey and share how we’re thinking about the future.

Wit started as a private beta in September 2013. The idea was to provide a simple tool to make it easy for developers to add natural language to their apps and devices. Wit introduced the .ai domain as well as “intent and entities”-driven natural language interfaces.

In January 2015, we decided to join FB to advance the state of natural language interfaces in everyday life and help Messenger become a successful platform. Our focus quickly shifted to a new project: a virtual assistant called M. We had a small team (7 engineers) and M was ambitious enough that we felt the need to put Wit.ai in maintenance mode for a bit.

In March 2016, Messenger opened up its API to send and receive text messages programmatically. Developers would be able to create conversational bots to connect users and businesses. In order to support this huge announcement, we started working again on Wit and shipped a new feature called Stories.

Stories is a dialog layer on top of the existing natural language understanding layer allowing bots to carry out complex transactions using text. Our goal was to provide something very flexible (and not slot-based like other services) so that anybody would be free to build what they need. We could then identify and focus on where the demand lies.

We’ve grown rapidly and have spent months interacting with the community, helping them build complex flows and interactions, listening to their needs and improving Stories and the rest of the product.

In September 2016, Messenger added support for more visual interactions with Menus, web views, etc. This enables interesting use cases to mix natural language understanding and visual interfaces to deliver the best end-user experience.

The goal of Wit is to make bots successful as a new means of communication between people and their favorite services/businesses. In order to do this, we will focus on a few key areas for the next few months:

  • 1) scale Wit to be reliable under any circumstances. To provide maximum robustness, we’ll build on top of proven Facebook technologies, like the ones powering facebook.com and our ads system.
  • 2) improve our NLU algorithms to make bots smarter by building on top of Facebook’s AI and NLP platform: DeepText and FBLearner Flow.
  • 3) integrate more effectively with the Messenger API and GUI, so that bots will be smart by default.
  • 4) incorporate our learnings from Stories, witty-fiddle, etc. into new product features to make developers’ lives easier.

That’s it for now, please join us in our FB group to provide feedback. We’re looking forward to interacting more with the community and improving Wit!

Team Wit