by  Michael Verlanov

Perks of ChatOps: VoiceMyBot!

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VoiceMyBot is a project created by SoftServe for optimizing the communication with HipChat bots by using voice interface. From now on, you can literally talk with your bots. Well, Alexa will talk with them for you. Read on to learn how.

One day, our lead Cloud Architect brought an Alexa-enabled Amazon Echo to the office. Nothing weird about that: He's known for being the #1 fan of new gadgets and all things “technology”. Paying tribute to our ancient office tradition, we gathered around to see the new gadget he spent money on. After asking the Echo a multitude of different silly questions to see the result, one of our engineers decided to have a look at the API to see what's inside. After basic exploration, we discovered it is possible to add custom Skills (Amazon’s extension for Echo) with almost unlimited possibilities. Unlike its competitors, Amazon Echo is an "open book" with tons of blank pages to write on. The challenge was set right away: how to use this flexible technology to extend the things we use in the workplace every day?

They say innovation happens when two ideas are put together and give birth to a brand new one.

After a recent Facebook Messenger update that enables developers and businesses to build bots, people realized the man/machine interface will never be the same. Even though this technology might be related to Machine Learning with a pinch of Artificial intelligence, in most cases, it’s a simple API call with 10 predefined answers with 3 conditions. To put it in simple words, an ordering pizza cha tbot doesn’t call pizza delivery by itself – It just triggers an API similar to a mobile app and your order is going to their ordering system. Today, many teams are using HipChat not only to keep up-to-date on project status, get notified when a website is down and continue to deploy the previous version but also for setting up ChatOps.

The Smart Home voice control device Amazon Echo was the first to deliver a voice control device with an open API to add custom integrations that might be shared with others.

Doesn’t a chatbot with a voice interface sound fun? We thought the same. While HipChat is not a new tool for fostering the idea of integrating features within developers’ community, Echo and HipChat fit together like two puzzle pieces, so after a day of work, we had our first version of a talking bot.


First Release

From the very beginning, we decided to connect our custom bots to Echo and test how they work. Development was completed in 3 days. At their core, all chatbots are really simple: a standalone application connected to the chat on one end and API services on the other. We added another point of integration to our application – a controller similar to chat. Over the course of one week, Jenkins counted more than 1000 builds in the demo environment, while we counted the people who joined us to test this exciting feature and wanted the same for their custom set of bots.