You can now combine Power Virtual Agents and the Azure Bot Framework Composer


Image: gguy/adobe stock

The new features announced at Microsoft Build this week show that Power Platform’s focus is not only on turning business users into developers in ways that have the least code and no code tools, but also on occasions that use less code. come from a combination of And Pro Code: What Microsoft calls “Build Without Borders.”

New Features in Power Platform

So there’s a new tool for creating websites that are more like apps, with features like workflows. Built on existing PowerApps portal tools and storing website data in Dataverse, Power Pages allows a business team to roundtrip Power Pages to Visual Studio Code and build the website itself with the help of a professional developer if it becomes popular Or they need help debugging.

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Similarly, designers can use Figma to design screens for their apps and the new Express Design tool turns them into multi-screen Power Apps, complete with business logic and data stores written for them and is ready to open in PowerApps Studio.

Business users can also design those apps using PDFs, images of their desired user interface, pictures on whiteboards, or screenshots of an existing line of business applications. Create a form with fields and a submit button and you’ll get a data store with those fields and code to make the submit button work.

Image: Microsoft. Build the interface for the app on paper and Express Design builds the app itself using Power FX code.

And because this is PowerApps Studio, the code that’s written for you is Power Fx that a developer can work with and enhance – but even after that, the user who previously created the app is still on it. Can work and also make changes of its own.

designing a chatbot

For chatbots, Microsoft is merging the following code separately and with no code tools that everyone can use, more powerful features from Azure Bot Framework Composer than the redesigned Power Virtual Agent authoring environment. adding in.

An integrated experience like that is something of a holy grail, Lily Cheng, corporate vice president for business applications and emerging technologies at Microsoft, told TechRepublic.

“People want it, but it’s really hard to fix,” she said.

Image: Microsoft. The new Power Virtual Agent authoring tool is aimed at business users and developers.

When Microsoft first came out with the bot framework five years ago, organizations typically hired someone to build a chatbot for them and then proceeded to recruit their own data scientists, Cheng noted. .

“What we are seeing today is partnerships,” Cheng said. “Sometimes people can start out really simple and then want to integrate all of their services as they get more sophisticated. Or they can start with one developer, and then the developer leaves, and they have changes are what they want to make to the conversational experience, and they want only a content editor to be able to write it… we want to make it easy for them to do that they don’t need natural language experts is.”

Some bots will be updated frequently.

“If I’m a restaurateur, and I have a new menu today, someone who is writing the menu should be able to go in and update that content,” Cheng said. “We want to make it really easy for people to update content, and then also update or correct the simple flow. Ideally, your bot is getting smarter every day as people are using it. Some of those integrations may require a developer, but we want to minimize the need for a developer to improve our bot, especially once you’re up and running. “

There are still advanced features you’ll want to hand over to the developers. Bots built with Power Virtual Agents often use connectors to backend services and APIs, and it’s not always the same person who worked on those connections that created the bot in the first place.

“We see a lot of collaboration,” Cheng said. “We almost always see people with different roles creating bots.”

Multiple people can work on the bot and leave comments and track progress for each other the way you can in a Microsoft Office document.

Image: Microsoft. The new bot authoring interface makes it easy to create bots that can view records or book appointments.

If a developer is working on a bot, they may prefer to work in code rather than in a graphical environment. Microsoft makes it easy for users to switch back and forth between the GUI and the code.

It’s not just round trip that you can already do in PowerApps nor the way you can open bots from Power Virtual Agents already in Bot Framework Composer. With Power Pages and Power Virtual Agents Bot Studio, you get an integrated service where developers can write and edit code or business users can use drag and drop graphical tools to add adaptive cards. If you want your bot to do something that is automated using Power Automate, you can click and open the Power Automate user interface inside Power Virtual Agents.

You can also create bots that listen and speak using the Azure Communications service and give the bot a few different things to say or say while typing or talking to someone.

“People don’t want to write an entirely separate flow for speech and text, but often when you’re talking what you want to say is different from the text you’d want to see in a dialog box, Cheng said.

Image: Microsoft. Working with Power Virtual Agents is similar to working in Power Automate, but with bot-specific options such as disrupting the bot while talking.

coding and collaboration

If you want to copy a bot for a slightly different task, being able to use code makes it a lot faster: you can either copy the entire code to a new bot project or just individual flows. can do. Usually, in a graphical development environment, you have to go in and recreate them using graphical tools. Now, an organization can share bot code just in a GitHub repo.

Image: Microsoft. Use rules and triggers to create interactive bots that start automatically or respond to specific events.

Likewise, if you find a spelling mistake in the text you’ve told the bot to use right in the middle of a complicated flow, instead of shelling out all the different steps to get it going, you can code it. In the scene can quickly recover.

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That simplicity can help people who don’t usually code, suggests Cheng.

“I think it will also help people learn more, because they can go back and forth: they can see the observations, they can find the location they are looking for, but they can also understand the structure of the bot. can be understood in different ways as well.”

With more people building bots that talk to customers or the public, organizations can scrutinize what information those bots provide. IT administrators are also getting the same governance and compliance options for chatbots that they already have with Microsoft 365, such as a customer lockbox option to allow access during data loss prevention and troubleshooting.

You can do Sign up to try the new Power Virtual Agents Technology Preview Right now, however, some new features like Trigger are still in development, and support for related tools like the Improved Language Understanding service will come later.

Cheng suggested that how your customers interact with your company is more important than ever, which is why power virtual agents integrate with Dynamics 365.

“The worst thing is when you do a lot of work, and then you have to throw it out because you move to another tool. We never want customers to lose the work they’ve done; we do it.” So that no matter where you start, it’s really easy if you start with Power Virtual Agents. You keep everything you’ve done, and you have more sophisticated have experience. “

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