Review of THR2040: Getting started with Azure bots in 10 minutes with Larry Jin and Mark Rackley

Yesterday at Microsoft Ignite, Larry Jin (Senior Project Manager at Microsoft) and Mark Rackley (Microsoft MVP and CSO at PAIT Group) presented a Theater Session on building your first question-and-answer bot using Azure Bot Services. Bot Services just released SDK 4.0 and you can follow along on how to make a bot like this with the documentation.

Mark and Larry’s bot was built to connect to QnA Maker, an Azure Cognitive Service that can provide responses for a chatbot. The chatbot is natively available in Microsoft Teams but you’re also able to surface your bot in a number of other services like social media platforms.

Mark was able to import the Ignite website’s FAQ list directly into QnA Maker using its built-in digestion feature, which can read multiple web page and file types and automatically create a question-and-answer experience with minimal effort. It even support mark down so you can provide direct answers with links to the source.






Next, Mark and Larry talked about surfacing your bot. Bot Services provides various channels you can experience your bot: Microsoft Teams, Slack, various social media tools, and using Direct Line, you can get your bot showing up in websites, intranet sites, even SharePoint Online and Dynamics 365. As an example, Mark showed how to deploy it within Teams, using the App Studio tool to package and load the bot as part of a Teams app.

The session was standing room only. Bots represent the next paradigm in human-machine interface and organizations everywhere are now starting to see the potential.