Editorial How To Tips Social Networking

Create Your Own Facebook Messenger Bot

Written by Rohit Salve

image

Facebook recently opened up their Messenger platform to enable bots to converse with users through Facebook Apps and on Facebook Pages.

You can read the documentation the Messenger team prepared but it’s not very clear for beginners and intermediate hackers.

So instead here is how to create your own messenger bot in 15 minutes.

🙌 Get set

Messenger bots uses a web server to process messages it receives or to figure out what messages to send. You also need to have the bot be authenticated to speak with the web server and the bot approved by Facebook to speak with the public.

You can also skip the whole thing by git cloning this repository, running npm install, and run a server somewhere.

Build the server

1.Install the Heroku toolbelt from here http://toolbelt.heroku.com to launch, stop and monitor instances. Sign up for free at  https://www.heroku.com if you don’t have an account yet.

2.Install Node from here nodejs.org,this will be the server environment. Then open up Terminal or Command Line Prompt and make sure you’ve got the very most recent version of npm by installing it again:

sudo npm install npm -g

3.Create a new folder somewhere and let’s create a new Node project. Hit Enter to accept the defaults.

npm init

 4.Install the additional Node dependencies. Express is for the server, request is for sending out messages and body-parser is to process messages.

npm install express request body-parser –save

5. Create an index.js file in the folder and copy this into it. We will start by authenticating the bot.

var express = require(‘express’)
var bodyParser = require(‘body-parser’)
var request = require(‘request’)
var app = express()

app.set(‘port’, (process.env.PORT || 5000))

// Process application/x-www-form-urlencoded
app.use(bodyParser.urlencoded({extended: false}))

// Process application/json
app.use(bodyParser.json())

// Index route
app.get(‘/’, function (req, res) {
    res.send(‘Hello world, I am a chat bot’)
})

// for Facebook verification
app.get(‘/webhook/’, function (req, res) {
    if (req.query[‘hub.verify_token’] === ‘my_voice_is_my_password_verify_me’) {
        res.send(req.query[‘hub.challenge’])
    }
    res.send(‘Error, wrong token’)
})

// Spin up the server
app.listen(app.get(‘port’), function() {
    console.log(‘running on port’, app.get(‘port’))
})

6. Make a file called Procfile and copy this. This is so Heroku can know what file to run.

web: node index.js

7. Commit all the code with Git then create a new Heroku instance and push the code to the cloud.

git init
git add .
git commit –message ‘hello world’
heroku create
git push heroku master

setup The Facebook App

1. Create or configure a Facebook App or Page here https://developers.facebook.com/apps/

image

2. In the app go to Messenger tab then click Setup Webhook. Here you will put in the URL of your Heroku server and a token. Make sure to check all the subscription fields.

image

3. Get a Page Access Token and save this somewhere.

image

4. Go back to Terminal and type in this command to trigger the Facebbook app to send messages. Remember to use the token you requested earlier.

curl -X POST “https://graph.facebook.com/v2.6/me/subscribed_apps?access_token=

Setup The Bot

Now that Facebook and Heroku can talk to each other we can code out the bot.

1.Add an API endpoint to index.js to process messages. Remember to also include the token we got earlier.

app.post(‘/webhook/’, function (req, res) {
    messaging_events = req.body.entry[0].messaging
    for (i = 0; i < messaging_events.length; i++) {         event = req.body.entry[0].messaging[i]         sender = event.sender.id         if (event.message && event.message.text) {             text = event.message.text             sendTextMessage(sender, "Text received, echo: " + text.substring(0, 200))         }     }     res.sendStatus(200) }) var token = "

2.Add a function to echo back messages

function sendTextMessage(sender, text) {
    messageData = {
        text:text
    }
    request({
        url: ‘https://graph.facebook.com/v2.6/me/messages’,
        qs: {access_token:token},
        method: ‘POST’,
        json: {
            recipient: {id:sender},
            message: messageData,
        }
    }, function(error, response, body) {
        if (error) {
            console.log(‘Error sending messages: ‘, error)
        } else if (response.body.error) {
            console.log(‘Error: ‘, response.body.error)
        }
    })
}

3.Commit the code again and push to Heroku

git add .
git commit -m ‘updated the bot to speak’
git push heroku master

4.Go to the Facebook Page and click on Message to start chatting!

image

CUSTOMIZE WHAT THE BOT SAYS

send a structured message

Facebook Messenger can send messages structured as cards or buttons.

image

1.Copy the code below to index.js to send an test message back as two cards.

function sendGenericMessage(sender) {
    messageData = {
        “attachment”: {
            “type”: “template”,
            “payload”: {
                “template_type”: “generic”,
                “elements”: [{
                    “title”: “First card”,
                    “subtitle”: “Element #1 of an hscroll”,
                    “image_url”: “http://messengerdemo.parseapp.com/img/rift.png”,
                    “buttons”: [{
                        “type”: “web_url”,
                        “url”: “https://www.messenger.com”,
                        “title”: “web url”
                    }, {
                        “type”: “postback”,
                        “title”: “Postback”,
                        “payload”: “Payload for first element in a generic bubble”,
                    }],
                }, {
                    “title”: “Second card”,
                    “subtitle”: “Element #2 of an hscroll”,
                    “image_url”: “http://messengerdemo.parseapp.com/img/gearvr.png”,
                    “buttons”: [{
                        “type”: “postback”,
                        “title”: “Postback”,
                        “payload”: “Payload for second element in a generic bubble”,
                    }],
                }]
            }
        }
    }
    request({
        url: ‘https://graph.facebook.com/v2.6/me/messages’,
        qs: {access_token:token},
        method: ‘POST’,
        json: {
            recipient: {id:sender},
            message: messageData,
        }
    }, function(error, response, body) {
        if (error) {
            console.log(‘Error sending messages: ‘, error)
        } else if (response.body.error) {
            console.log(‘Error: ‘, response.body.error)
        }
    })
}

2.Update the webhook API to look for special messages to trigger the cards

app.post(‘/webhook/’, function (req, res) {
    messaging_events = req.body.entry[0].messaging
    for (i = 0; i < messaging_events.length; i++) {         event = req.body.entry[0].messaging[i]         sender = event.sender.id         if (event.message && event.message.text) {             text = event.message.text             if (text === 'Generic') {                 sendGenericMessage(sender)                 continue             }             sendTextMessage(sender, "Text received, echo: " + text.substring(0, 200))         }     }     res.sendStatus(200) }) Act on what the user messages

What happens when the user clicks on a message button or card though? Let’s update the webhook API one more time to send back a postback function.

    “`
app.post(‘/webhook/’, function (req, res) {
    messaging_events = req.body.entry[0].messaging
    for (i = 0; i < messaging_events.length; i++) {         event = req.body.entry[0].messaging[i]         sender = event.sender.id         if (event.message && event.message.text) {             text = event.message.text             if (text === 'Generic') {                 sendGenericMessage(sender)                 continue             }             sendTextMessage(sender, "Text received, echo: " + text.substring(0, 200))         }         if (event.postback) {             text = JSON.stringify(event.postback)             sendTextMessage(sender, "Postback received: "+text.substring(0, 200), token)             continue         }     }     res.sendStatus(200) }) ``` Git add, commit, and push to Heroku again. Now when you chat with the bot and type 'Generic' you can see this. image

HOW TO SHARE YOUR BOT

Add a chat button to your webpage
Go here to learn how to add a chat button to your webpage.

Create a shortlink
You can use https://m.me/  to have someone start a chat.

Sounds interesting? Please share it via Facebook,Twitter & Google+.

Source:
github

About the author

Rohit Salve

Leave a Comment