Microsoft Ignite and the Bot Builder Community
As many of you know, I've been doing a lot of work with the Bot Framework over the last couple of years. As a Microsoft MVP, I'm privy to some NDA knowledge as well, so when the Bot Framework SDK v4 was announced at Build this year, I knew about it several months in advance. This allowed myself and other community members to get up to speed in a hurry, and it also allowed me to update my chatbots, documentation, and the book that I'm working on.
When I was at the MVP Summit in March, I was lucky enough to run into a couple of top-notch chatbot programmers: Gary Pretty and James Mann. Gary does a lot of speaking, and a ton of open source coding, while James has been the inspiration for much of the tutorial work that I've been doing over the last year.
A few months ago, Gary approached me about joining the Bot Builder Community org with him, James, and Arafat Tehsin. A week or so later, we were joined by Stephan Bisser. Gary created a GitHub org, and put together some repositories, and the team--along with help from others in the community and the Bot Framework team itself--has started to put together a good number of extensions to the Bot Framework. In fact, the last couple of Bot Framework posts I've published have been a window into some of the things that are being created from the Node.JS side.
Imagine my surprise when Gary pinged us about a presentation that was given at Microsoft Ignite this year where we were singled out by the presenter. Arafat managed to snag the clip:
There was a nice blog post from the Bot Framework team as well.
Recently, I've even been contacted by a handful of Microsoft Bot Framework team members offering support and help. It's been a great experience.
I've always felt that the Bot Framework community was a small, but close-knit group of individuals--both from the Microsoft and non-Microsoft side. The Bot Framework team has been in one heck of a sprint trying to get this out the door, and their communication after the launch has shown a team ready to help others upgrade their chatbots, and understand why certain changes have occurred. They've been courteous, transparent, and fully willing to offer suggestions, while also asking for advice.
Although I've always had an interest in (and have played with) neural networks, it has been my work with the Bot Framework that has really pushed me into absorbing the news, knowledge, and tools for artificial intelligence, and it's been great working with a community team and a Microsoft team that shares the same enthusiasm.