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Chatfuel is expanding its Facebook Messenger chatbot creation platform by allowing users to link to external sources through plugins.

This step makes Chatfuel’s toolkit more valuable to those who may not have the programming skills, an understanding of A.I., or a good way to import and sync data.

The plugins make the chatbot more extensible without adding complexity. For example, you could link to a database using the JSON plugin (JavaScript Object Notation), provide a way for users to subscribe to an RSS feed, or send daily digests of interactions. Developers aren’t just helping people chat with a bot, they are helping them access more data, linking them to a website, and providing summaries.

This adds to Chatfuel’s powerful development framework, which already supports a number of helpful features, including buttons that allow users to pick an option when asked and A.I. programming that looks for keywords and interprets the context. As an example of the latter, if a user asks about a “table” and uses the word “reserve,” the bot can determine that the conversation is about making a dinner reservation. Chatfuel’s innovation is in making it possible to accomplish this by selecting from a tree menu rather than by writing code.


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Several chatbots created with Chatfuel already use plugins, but the company is now opening up the plugins to any third-party developer.

One of the interesting early examples is an Uber Asia chatbot — which has 5 million likes — that can “onboard” new drivers and provide info for existing drivers. It’s essentially a chatbot that works like a FAQ. The Uber Asia chatbot can take responses from users and place them into a Google doc using a plugin.

The chatbot for Complex magazine also uses a plugin. “They used RSS feeds, Site Search, and Daily Digest plugins to assemble their bot and connect it to currently existing feeds of data in just a few hours,” said Dmitry Dumik, CEO of Chatfuel, speaking to VentureBeat.

Dumik shared his announcement during the Conversational UI design: Functional Versus Witty panel at MobileBeat 2016, currently taking place in San Francisco.

“Very soon we plan to open plugins to third-party developers, so anyone can contribute their plugins to the community and benefit from the plugins created by others,” said Dumik.

Stay abreast of the latest news on bots, messaging, and A.I. from MobileBeat 2016. Read our coverage here.

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