In this post, I discuss 3 must know tools which non-programmers should know about as they are building Dialogflow chatbots.
These are "must-know", in my view, as they can speed up the process of building out your Dialogflow prototype.
Mindmapping tool for conversation flowcharts
Creating conversation flowcharts can expedite the development of your bot.
When it comes to Dialogflow conversation flowcharts, there are some specific aspects which the mindmapping software should support:
- multiple lines of text
- org tree like hierarchical layout
- coloring the borders of individual tree nodes
- and a few other features
With that in mind, the best tools for Dialogflow flowcharts are XMind and Mindomo.
Zero setup webhook coding environment
If you are building a non-trivial Dialogflow bot, you need to write code.
However, for prototype bots, you would like to write as little code as possible and validate the idea. In particular, you would rather not fuss around with setting up your coding environment.
The best tool for this purpose is RunKit. And the second best tool is - well, there isn't one, because RunKit seems to be one of a kind 🙂 [as best as I can tell, if not please leave a comment].
RunKit doesn't even need any set up. You just create an account, log in and start writing your code. Since it supports NodeJS (well, only NodeJS really), the libraries are already there for you, you just need to import them with a single line of code. You can clone other people's projects to get a head start on your own coding.
When you are done, Publish and get the endpoint URL, and paste the endpoint URL into your fulfillment section in Dialogflow.
Low code database
If you are building a prototype bot, there isn't any immediate need to set up your own database (like SQL server or MySQL).
Effectively, you just need to input some data into a spreadsheet like interface, and then fetch the data using your webhook code.
Google Sheets is a good option for this, but it has a couple of issues:
- the user experience when inputting data isn't great
- the Google Sheets API is not quite as easy to program against as the other tools mentioned here
In my view, the best low code database for Dialogflow bots is Airtable.
It is easy enough that you can input data into it like a simple online spreadsheet. But it also has enough "database like" features (e.g. record linking, aggregation "views") that it can support nearly any simple Dialogflow prototype bot you wish to build.
As a bonus, Airtable makes an excellent CMS for Dialogflow rich responses (more on this topic in a future post).
Even if you decide against using them in the future, familiarizing yourself with these tools when you get started with your Dialogflow prototype will help speed up your initial bot creation. Once you verify that your proof-of-concept works, you can migrate to more powerful options if necessary.