Bot Basics, Chatbot Development

Chatbot APIs: What Are They, and How Do They Work?

API is a huge buzzword right now, but what exactly is one? And what are chatbot APIs, and how do they work? Read this article to find out more.

By Aarushi Ramesh
January 29, 2020

As 2020 kicks off, it’s obvious that chatbot technologies and conversational AI are gaining popularity and interest from businesses, developers, and customers.

As a bot enthusiast myself, I always wanted to know what sorts of ways and tools there are to build efficient and powerful chatbots—whether for a personal project, for a business product, or for a voice assistant bot!

There are numerous ways to practically use conversational AI, and we are going to get started by introducing the meaning, benefits, and features of chatbot APIs.

Chatbot API
Ways to use conversational AI: To engage customers, for personal projects, or to shop online efficiently.

What are chatbot APIs?

Let’s first start with a simple definition of an API. An API, also known as an application programming interface, is essentially a “bridge” that allows applications to talk to one another.

An API basically delivers your message or request to the website or application you are accessing and sends the response back to you. It’s essentially a way of communication between two applications.

A chatbot API is an API that offers features for developers to build chatbots. Chatbot APIs help combine natural language processing (NLP) to build an efficient chatbot—they take in the request, extract the intent or meaning of the message, and deliver the response.

How do chatbot APIs work?

First, let’s understand how APIs work.

Let’s imagine a real-life scenario here. Pretend you are at a restaurant, and you are deciding on what to order. You need someone to take your order, go to the restaurant’s kitchen, place the order for you, and get back to you with the food.

You obviously can’t directly access the kitchen and go to the chef, so you’ll need a link to the restaurant. And the link, or API, to the kitchen is the waiter. However, the API needs to be properly designed so that there isn’t a mistake in communication process.

Now how do chatbot APIs work? Chatbot APIs help the developers use NLP to respond to the user, depending on the intent of the user’s message.

So, for any particular request or statement being said by the user, the API essentially helps in turning it into some sort of action (informing the user about the weather, placing an order, or even answering a general question).

Chatbot API
A model of how APIs work.

Suppose you are a developer. So, when you are developing a chatbot, for instance, or any application, an API can help you gain access to data, software, and services.

The developers (or you) can then use this to program and build your chatbot on your preferred messaging platform (whether it be on Facebook Messenger, Slack, or WhatsApp, etc.)

Examples of chatbot APIs and their features

These are two chatbot APIs used to build efficient and powerful chatbots, and these are some features which are handled by their APIs:

Wit.ai
- Supports 30+ languages for speech recognition
- Intent recognition
- Contextual clues
- Great natural language platform

API.ai
- Speech recognition
- Intent recognition (intent of the message is all about the goal of the request)
- Contextual clues with words and sentences
- Can be used with 15 different languages
- From a source from TechCrunch, "API.ai has processed over 3 billion API requests," which is a lot!

Conclusions

Building a chatbot involves lots of steps, procedures, and developing. And, with chatbot APIs, we can effectively connect with the libraries, data, and other services to build the appropriate bot for your business or project—or even for fun.

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