New Topic: Windows Live Agents

For the past months, I've been working with something new: Windows Live Agents (or, as most of us will call them, bots).

ilitia was chosen as a Windows Live Agents Partner by MSN Spain, and we've been trying the official SDK. Few months ago, we started developing our first commercial bot, for an important client.

Now, the bot is reaching a beta stage, where it works and does some cool stuff on the inside, and will probably launch in few time (now the client needs to do a big QA and human relations check on it, to choose how it will talk, behave and look).

We're also starting a second commercial bot probably this week, so the work keeps coming and I'll probably be developing bots at least for a couple of months.

For this first post, I don't wan't to dig into complex stuff, so instead I'll provide info both about the official SDK (which uses BuddyScript, a custom scripting language developed by Colloquis, the company that Microsoft bought and adopted as the official SDK), and third-party SDKs and APIs available for indie developments.

So here they go :)

Official WLA SDK

  • Old Colloquis forums: Out of date but with lots of info, troubleshooting and tips.
  • MSDN WLAs forum: The new, official forum for questions about Buddyscript and WLAs.
  • Windows Live Agents official blog (http://windowsliveagents.spaces.live.com/): The official blog. Release notes of new SDK versions, tips and best practices for developing WLAs.
  • Windows Live Messenger Activity SDK: All the info for developing Activities.
  • Windows Live Messenger Add-In API: With the appearance of Windows Live Messenger 8.0, Microsoft exposed a .NET API to create add-ins that attach to MSN Messenger and allow to create Agent-like assistants (I've just discovered this one so I still don't know it's limitations or capabilities in depth).

Unnoficial SDKs & APIs

  • Incesoft: A small API for multiple languages (.NET, Java, C++) that allows to develop agents. The problem is that the server is hosted by them, so speed is not too fast as your bot/agent has to bounce from your "logic components" to their servers, then to Messenger servers and finally to the user's Messenger window.
  • DotMSN: Another API, this one fully run on your side, and extensible via .NET. While not professional and scalable, allows the greatest level of customization and control of your agents.
  • AIML: An open standard to develop natural language for Artificial Intelligence conversations, via XML.
  • Wikipedia info on MSNP: Wikipedia link to gathered information about Microsoft Notification Protocol, which MSN Messenger uses to transport the conversations.

Thanks to Gabi for the Messenger Add-in & DotMSN info!

Note: Next post will start with handy tips, coding examples and other things interesting if you're developing WLAs.

2007-09-10

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