That is the belief—and the common vision—that brought us together as software engineers and engineers from Canada, Dubai, and other places around the world. We are optimistic about the rise of AI as far as bots are concerned, and we are obsessed with writing tools for building them that developers will love.
From the start we were convinced that bots are going to be huge, because they mark a turning point in user interaction. Up until now, users have had to take responsibility for getting their software to understand what they want. With bots, that responsibility is turned on its head: now the software shoulders the burden of understanding the user’s intention.
Bots matter because they let people naturally delegate inefficient tasks to software that is designed to do it. This means people accomplish more—they spend less time engaging with software, and less time doing tasks that software can do for them.
Botpress wasn’t the first thing we wanted to build in this space. We first started building a front-end for what is called “chatops.” Short for chat operations, this is a technology that runs software functions—especially devops; software development and operations—through a chat platform by giving instructions to bots.
But we soon realized that we needed a solid foundation to build our chatops bots on top of—and this foundation represented a much bigger opportunity.
What we were missing was a great bot framework aimed at developers. There were many bot platforms out there targeting amateurs, along with some essentially code-it-from-scratch proprietary frameworks…but we didn’t want our creativity to be limited, nor did we want to spend unnecessary time on common functionality that could be coded once for everyone.
We knew we needed three things:
GUI bot-building platforms might make it faster to get started—but we didn’t want to throw away all the other advantages of code, such as professional source control, flexibility, shared components, copy-and-paste—and of course leveraging the almost unlimited awesome, existing tools out there for developers. These were advantages that could be applied not just to the building of the bot, but to the tools supporting its deployment—which in our opinion were just as important as the bot itself.
Code is great for building, but we still wanted the bot to be simple for non-technical staff to use. That meant they would need friendly and intuitive dashboards to manage the bot; dashboards that could be customized for them by the bot developers to make them as easy as possible to use. So we came up with the bot management system (BMS).
Finally, we wanted a framework that worked with all the main bot tools and services that are out there right now or will emerge in time. We wanted to be open and future proof—not locking people into a proprietary solution.
These three components came together as Botpress.
We released the beta in January 2017, and version 1 a few months after that.
We got an amazing response to the first version of Botpress—especially from seasoned developers.
We also learned lessons.
Advanced developers loved it…but beginners struggled with it. That needed to change. Our goal, ultimately, was to democratize professional bot development: to make the ideas and passion more important than development skills. It needed to be a software movement, which meant that it needed to be inclusive of all developers.
So we set out towards building the next version with clear objectives: to make Botpress 10X easier to use…and 10X more powerful.
We obsessed about everything. Like the visual flow builder. We needed it, but it had to be simple…and ultra fast…and most importantly it had to sync with the code both ways, to remain true to our developer-first vision.
We believe we have managed to create something truly valuable to bot developers.
We have accomplished many things over the past two years—but it’s just a fraction of what is possible. There are so many things to come.
We are really grateful to the thousands of developers who have supported Botpress from the early days until now. Without them we would be nowhere.
In some ways, our early days in chatops still influence our vision of the future. Bots will ultimately be about way more than NLP and conversations. In the future they will be primarily about operations. And eventually they will become a natural part of interacting with any software; a part of every application interface in some way. Bots will be woven into our everyday life in a natural way.
We can’t wait to play our part in making that happen.
Thanks again for joining us on this journey and contributing. The future of chatbot development belongs to developers and to openness!
—Sylvain & the team at Botpress