17 Chatbot Development Tools [2019]

Well, it's a good time to start building bots.

Now you might be thinking, What are the best tools for building chatbots?

You are not alone, I ask the same question every time when we have a new project or requirement.

There are countless bot building tools or bot frameworks out there, so where do you start?

This article covers some of the chatbot development platforms available in the market.

1. Dialogflow

Dialogflow is a conversational platform that lets you design and builds chatbots and voice apps (Google Actions and Amazon Alexa Skills). Dialogflow is backed by Google and is the most widely used tool to build Actions for more than 400M+ Google Assistant devices.

It supports all the major messaging channels such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, Skype, Kik, Line, Telegram, Twitter, Viber etc.

Dialogflow supports Natural Language Processing in 20+ languages.

Dialogflow is probably the best tools to build omnichannel chatbots with less coding. Dialogflow provides the REST API which can be used to integrate the chatbot to your own application or with custom conversational interfaces.

2. Microsoft Bot Framework

Microsoft Bot Framework connectors allow you to deploy chatbots on websites, apps, Cortana, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack, Facebook Messenger and more. It has 2 major components - Channel connectors and BotBuilder SDKs. Channel connectors allow you to connect the chatbot to messaging channels.

You can use the BotBuilder SDKs to implement the business logic in the chatbot. BotBuilder SDKs support C#, Javascript, Java, Python versions. BotBuilder comes with an Emulator for local debugging and visualization of conversations. This is really helpful for the developers during the development.

It's very easy for the developers to connect the Bot Builder SDK with any Natural Language Understanding (NLU) services. Bot Builder SDK Github account has many code samples and templates which help the developers to get started the chatbot development quickly.

3. Amazon Lex

Amazon Lex is a service for building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text. Amazon Lex is the same technologies that power Amazon Alexa. As a fully managed service, Amazon Lex scales automatically, so you don’t need to worry about managing infrastructure.

With Amazon Lex, you can build, test, and deploy your chatbots directly from the Amazon Lex console itself.

Amazon Lex bots can be published to messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, Slack, Kik, and Twilio SMS. Amazon Lex provides SDKs for iOS and Android for building bots for your mobile apps.

4. BotKit

Botkit is an opensource chatbot framework, recently acquired by Microsoft. Botkit is the leading developer tool for building chatbots, apps and custom integrations for major messaging platforms.

BotKit is NodeJs based SDK which supports publishing the chatbots on messaging channels such as Slack, Cisco Webex, Cisco Jabber, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger Twilio SMS, Twilio IPM, Microsoft Bot Framework, Google Hangouts Chat.

Botkit also provides a web chat plugin which you can embed on any websites. With BotKit, you have to host the chatbot on your own server. BotKit can be easily used with all the major NLP platforms.

5. BotPress

Botpress is a dual-license open source bots development platform for developing bots in the same way that WordPress is a development platform for developing websites. The best part of Botpress is it provides UI where developers and non-technical people can manage the chatbots after the deployment.

Botpress has many nice features such as The Flow Builder and Dialog Manager. Flow Builder and Dialog Manager make it easier for developers to build and debug complex conversation flows. The developers can fully customize the chatbot - add business logic or integrate the 3rd party APIs etc.

Botpress is a good choice if your client wants to manage the chatbot contents by non-technical people after the deployment.

With Botpress you can deploy chatbot on Facebook, Slack, Telegram, BotFramework, Twilio, Web. Botpress is available under both the AGPL license and the Botpress Proprietary License

6. BotMan

BotMan is the most popular chatbot development framework for PHP. There many chatbot development tools for Node Js, Python, Java, C#.

BotMan is the only PHP framework that truly helps the developers to build chatbot using PHP. BotMan Studio is a bundled version of BotMan and Laravel.

BotMan can publish your chatbot on following channels - Cisco Spark, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts Chat, HipChat, Microsoft Bot Framework, Nexmo, Slack, Telegram, Twilio, Web, WeChat.

To make it as easy for you to add a BotMan powered chatbot into your website, BotMan ships with a custom chat widget that you can use out of the box.

7. Wit.ai

Wit.ai is the Facebook acquired company. Wit is free, including for commercial use. It is an NLP platform which allows the developers to configure the entities and intents. Developers can use the HTTP API to connect the wit.ai to your chatbot or any other applications.

Wit.ai provides SDK in Node.js, Python, Ruby.

Wit.ai currently support Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Catalan, Central Khmer, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Greenlandic, Hausa, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Igbo, Indonesian, Inuktitut, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Kinyarwanda, Korean, Lao, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maori, Mongolian, Nepali, Norwegian, Pashto, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Southern Ndebele, Southern Sotho, Spanish, Swahili, Swati, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tsonga, Tswana, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, Venda, Vietnamese, Xhosa, Yoruba, and Zulu.

8. Rasa Stack

Rasa is an open source framework. It has two major components Rasa NLU and Rasa Core. Rasa NLU is responsible for natural language understanding. Rasa core is a framework for building conversational chatbot. Rasa core allows more sophisticated dialogue, trained using interactive and supervised machine learning.

The major advantage of using Rasa Stack is chatbot can be deployed on your own server by keeping all the components in-house. It is possible to use Rasa Core or Rasa NLU separately. Rasa is production ready and used in large companies everywhere.

Rasa core support Facebook Messenger, Rocket.Chat, Slack, Telegram, Twilio. Rasa is available under two license. Rasa NLU and Rasa Core are open sources. There is a paid and more advanced version of Rasa stack called Rasa platform.

Rasa Platform extends the open source Rasa NLU and Rasa Core libraries with APIs, a graphical user interface, and customer success program which includes enterprise-grade support. Rasa core is written in Python.

9. SAP Conversational AI

SAP Conversational AI (formerly known as Recast.AI) an end-to-end chatbot platform for the enterprise. Spend less time on chatbot development with preconfigured chatbots for specific industry sectors, reducing integration time and speeding up deployment.

SAP Conversational AI support following channel - Web, Cisco Spark, Kik, Line, Messenger, Skype (via Microsoft Azure), Microsoft Teams (via Microsoft Azure), Cortana (via Microsoft Azure), Slack, SAP CoPilot, SAP Jam Collaboration, Telegram, Twilio, Twitch, Twitter.

SAP Conversational AI provides SDK for Ruby, Javascript, Python, PHP, Java. It also provides SDK for iOS as well. It has a limited free version available for non-commercial uses.

10. IBM Watson Assistant

Watson Assistant is an offering for building conversational interfaces into any application, device, or channel. You have the flexibility to deploy Watson Assistant on your site, in a mobile app, on the phone, in messaging channels, and to customer service tools.

It supports 13 languages. It provides SDK for the developers to build applications around Watson Assistant.

You can use SDKs in Java, Python, iOS. IBM offers free, standard, and premium plans.

11. GupShup

Founded in 2004, Gupshup's messaging platform is used by many developers for building chatbots. Gupshup's platform provides tools for the entire lifecycle of bot development including scripting, dev, testing, hosting, monitoring and analytics providing an easier and faster way to build advanced bots.

The platform has 2 main components - Messaging API and Bot Platform.

Messaging API enables the developers publishing chatbots to 30+ channels using a Single API. With Bot Platform, you can choose from a list of pre-built bot templates, customize its content and instantly publish it.

Non developers can easily create the conversation flow with a graphical editor. The platform is free to use.

12. Botsify

Botsify is another popular platform for building bots using the drag and drops UI. Botsify can publish the chatbot on Website, Slack and Facebook Messenger.

One of the nice features of Botsify is human agent handover which is not available on most of the other platforms.

Botsify also offers integrations with 3rd party platforms such as Google Sheet, Shopify, Dashbot, Dialogflow etc. Botsify is not free, pricing starts from $50/month.

13. Pandorabots

Pandorabots offer an online web service for building and deploying chatbots.

The Pandorabots uses the Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML) for scripting the chatbot conversation.

Pandorabots offers free, open source libraries (like Rosie, ALICE, and Base Bot) in addition to premium libraries and modules (like the Mitsuku Module) available for an additional monthly fee.

14. Flow XO

Flow XO for Workflow lets you design your conversational flow. You can create blocks which can be used in multiple bots.

There are over 100 integrations you can use as your building blocks, most of which can be used to ‘trigger’ a flow or as an output ‘action’ from a flow.

Flow XO supports Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Twilio SMS, Web. Flow XO offers a free plan with 500 interactions and 5 bots or active flows.

15. Chatfuel

Chatfuel is a popular chatbot builder platform for building chatbots for Facebook Messenger. Chatfuel says they power 46% of all Messenger bots.

You can Messenger bots from the existing templates or you can create one using the drag & drop builder. You can also set up the Messenger campaign sequences from the dashboard itself. Chatfuel only supports publishing bots on Facebook Messenger.

You don’t need any coding skills to use Chatfuel and the free version of the platform gives you access to almost every feature for up to 1,000 subscribers, although users will see the Chatfuel branding on your bot.

16. ManyChat

ManyChat allows you to create a Facebook Messenger bot for marketing, sales, and support. ManyChat is the competitor to Chatfuel and the two platforms have a lot of things in common.

With ManyChat’s visual drag and drop builder, you can easily set up your Facebook messenger bot without any programming knowledge.

The paid versions to start at $10/month for 1,000 subscribers and there is a free version of the platform gives you access to almost every feature although users will see the ManyChat branding on your bot.

17. MobileMonkey

MobileMonkey shares some common features with Chatfuel and Manychat. The platforms allow the developers to build chatbot without any programming knowledge.

You can manage the contacts lists, leads, subscribers and even set the Messenger funnel.

MobileMonkey gives everything you need to build and deploy powerful Chatbots for Websites, Facebook Ads, Bulk Messaging and more. See the pricing here

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Cedex Technologies LLP is a bot development company from India. We build chatbot and voice bots using IBM Watson, Dialogflow, Amazon Lex, Rasa NLU, Microsoft Bot Framework, BotKit etc.

Kiran Krishnan

Co-founder @ Cedex Technologies LLP | Building chatbots and Voice-first solutions