AWS ChatOps with Hubot & Slack

There can be many reasons for wanting to explore the use of Chatbots. In situations where collaboration tools like Slack are already in place, introducing a bot is merely another form of automation to support the way people work. In companies that are interested in providing a forum for people to develop technical skills, there are definite possibilities offered through Chatbots, especially as extending their functionality is not overly difficult and actually makes them more useful. For the enthusiast, Chatbots provide a glimpse into a future where interactions with technology are more fluid, based on natural language and conversation, but this is where challenges remain, for despite all the powerful technology that has been used to create Hubot, frankly it isn’t that chatty for a chatbot.

I suspect that many end-users would be disappointed with the way commands are needed for Hubot like pretty much any other software tool. I’d go as far as to say that the interface with Slack is the only “chatty” thing about it. I suspect I’m missing something or that chatbot is a misnomer. As yet, I haven’t been able to ask fuzzy questions like “what time is it?” or “what’s the time?” or “tell me the time please” and get the same result, so I need to look into that. I wonder if there is a script that can give Hubot more personality?

Hubot is able to do what’s asked of it, but so what?

There is a lot of powerful technology under the hood that is used to get Hubot to this point, so I’m sure at some sort of scale you will be able to see the wow factor, but a stand alone instance doesn’t really show that off. I think that if there was greater utilisation, to the point where the back-end was seeing heavy use (of components like Redis) then it would be easier to see the value.

Personally, the introduction to the node.js ecosystem was very interesting especially as it provides context for some real-world activities that are going on around me. I was impressed by how tools like NPM appear quite slick to the Node novice. Slack was also impressive, but again desperately needs users in order to be of value. I think that in the real world I am more likely to be encountering Hipchat (due to the value that can be gained from a Jira integration), but regardless of the technology I am excited at the prospect of a chat forum appearing in an enterprise setting.

Hipchat_Atlassian_logo

Maybe the trick to Hubot is that in order for the bot to develop a personality, it needs to be crafted by the organisation that is using the bot. If Hubot provides a basic bot, the organisation that wants to use the bot can craft that personality. The first challenge that could be opened up to the company could be to work on the programming needed to build the firms Hubot something like a personality. Imagine offering that up to your end users in marketing? Hey, could you lash together a few lines of code and give our bot a soul?

I wonder what they would create?

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