One of the Power Platform announcements during the Ignite 2019 keynote was the new addition to the Power-family: Virtual Agents. In a nutshell: how to create a bot – for a non-developer
I really liked to idea and started thinking. What if, in addition to other awareness activities like a support-site, a media campaign, and more, we can use a bot to help our employees understand labeling?
So, being a non-developer, I started out using the new Power Virtual Agents. I wanted a very simple bot. Just to get the hang off it. And this is the end result
How to create such a bot? Just go to https://powerva.microsoft.com/ and sign-up.
It’s very easy.
Unless…… you get a message like “Your IT department has turned off……”. This means that users cannot subscribe to these kinds of services. It can easily be solved by your IT department and requires two simple PowerShell cmdlets.
Try again, and you’ll see you can now sign-up. You’ll notice that the initial bot framework takes some time to spin-up. Which gives you some time to look around. You’ll probably notice the distinct Power Platform interface.
On the left side there’s the menu bar. For this article I only need to tell you about the Topics and Publish feature On the rightmost side, there’s your canvas. Yep, just like a Flow……. Sorry….. Power Automate….. And in between there’s a preview of the bot itself.
The canvas works from top to bottom (again, very intuitive). The canvas also manages its screen size to fit the flow of the bot. But you can also zoom in/out and move about.
Btw: what I really, really like about this canvas is the way a preview is shown. You can literally follow the path of the bot and see how it switches between topics. Very cool!
When I started with the bot, I has some ideas about the content. That’s not the way to go, I think. You should have some structure in-place to create your topics. But my idea was simply: explain the different information protection classifications (labels) and provide other information as well. I want to have this bot available from the help-section.
I created some topics and learned on the way.
So what’s a topic? A topic can be started by the user’s input or called from another topic. When it’s started from the user, you can decide which triggers are used. For example” “Hello Bot” or (in my case) “How to prevent forwarding of emails”. The preview comes with a wide range of example topics.
From the start point of the topic, you can now choose to have messages, questions and even calls to Power Automate to create a Flow
When you ask a question, the bot can listen for certain answers. One of these might be a multiple choice answer. But it can also be a Yes/No or text-input.
In the end, I ended up with such a structure:
So, did it work? I tested it out using the preview-pane. But I also tested it using the Publish feature. And – voila:
Kinda cool, very easy to use and up and running in no-time. If you want more information on this, please check out: https://powervirtualagents.microsoft.com/en-us/