Posts Tagged ‘Chatbot

04
Jan
11

Chatting Alice

Happy New Year people 🙂

Towards the extreme rear end of last year, I created a small web app, Chatting Alice, which is basically a jabber/XMPP client that allows the user of the app to chat with publicly available chat-bots on this site.

Anybody with an XMPP enabled chat client and a jabber/GTalk account can simply add chattingalice@appspot.com and start chatting…

Features:

  • A menu based interface (from within the chat) that provides options to easily change bots, and see current bot.
  • Various bots, selected on the basis of the most popular bot statistics on www.pandorabots.com
  • Each user sees his interaction as independent of other users, since chat contexts are properly maintained with different accounts for each user.
  • Chat history is not recorded, for obvious reasons 😛
  • Easy to start and stop using

Development:

I happened to be searching around for a suitable time-pass last December. I looked for some chat-bots too. There were many, but there wasn’t any easily accessible interface for them. So, I made one.. I wanted to work on App Engine, and hence the app was born.

Chatting Alice is hosted on Google App Engine, and out of the Java and python runtime choices, it is running on the python sister.

App Engine provides an XMPP service to its apps, with the facility to send invites, receive or send chat messages, and checking the availability of a user (GTalk ID). This api was used to interface with the publicly available chatbots on pandorabots. Each chat request to Chatting Alice is followed by a request to pandorabots’ server, which then sends a reply. That reply is then forwarded to the user.

The most complicated part was creating a proper system to separate chat accounts for various users, so context was not lost if 2 simultaneous users were chatting with the same bot. This was done by way of some datastore (app engine’s data storage system) entities that provide necessary details to pandorabots at the time of each request, which helps keep chatting contexts separate.

Last feature to be added was multiple bots, and the menu interface. Not that time-consuming, as python made it pretty easy to handle textual commands and errors.

Current status:

Since this was nothing but an impulsive experiment, development has been stopped. If further uses occur to me for this app at the backend of another app, maybe I’ll get back to it. BUT THE APP IS WELL AND RUNNING, WITH 10 BOTS as of now.

If you find any bugs/missing features, I’ll be happy to fix them (if possible) since as it is, I’m still learning.

Please let me know of any such issues at this Facebook page

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