How to create a sample nodejs bot which utilizes Azure Functions in 15 minutes

In this article I will demonstrate how to create a nodejs bot hosted in Azure. The bot will be created from a sample provided from Microsoft. The example bot will use Azure Functions as the trigger for it’s communication. You will need a Microsoft Azure account to be able to follow this process for yourself. This is only an introduction on how to get up and running, more steps in the process will come later.

Introduction 

Looking at the documentation on how to create a test a nodejs bot within the Microsoft Bot Framework can be found in the Microsoft documentation (What is Bot Builder for Node.js and why should I use it?).

I found another more interesting (less CLI) way to do it through Azure portal. As I work my way through figuring out how all this works I expect there will be a number of blog posts as there is a lot to talk about. This post is focused on getting us up and running.

As of February 2017 this Bot Service is in Preview and the process may change before it goes GA later in the year !

Creating a bot service in Azure

Within your Azure portal create a new instance of a bot service from within Intelligence and Analytics.

bot1

Give it a name and resource group

bot2

and create.

Once created you will be able to access your bot from your portal resources pane.

Setting up your service

Opening your new service for the first time, you’ll be presented with the form to create an AppId and secret password for your bot. Follow the prompts and get back to the screen to create a sample bot.

bot3

We are going to select NodeJS and create an azure function bot for the sake of demo

bot4

and then we wait……Ho hum, I wonder what’s going on in the background – probably magic….

bot5

Developer interface

Once the bot has been created you will be presented with a web based IDE showing you the node code and a chat window on the right.


bot6

You can talk to yourself!! Something I like to do all the time…..apparently….

bot9

Back in Azure Portal

In setting up all this up, Azure auto-magically created a number of new services have been created in the Azure Portal to manage this functionality(which is why we had to wait for the background magic earlier). We can now see the following services making all this happen.

bot8

How it works and how it is happening will come in future blog posts. For the moment we are up and running……and this blog post is getting long enough already.

Conclusion

This entire process took no more than about 15 minutes to complete. There is a lot more to explore around the deployment of the bot and the further development thereof, but for the moment we are up and running with a bot and Azure Functions (at least in development).

PS

I now have a nagging feeling that this is cool and all, but I really should check and understand how much those new magic services are going to cost…….

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