Monday, 18 January 2021

Building a Microsoft Teams bot for AppSource: Posting an Adaptive Card carousel as a welcome message

In November 2020, I was happy to release my side project "Snooze Bot" as a free app on the Microsoft Teams store: https://appsource.microsoft.com/en-us/product/office/WA200002297 

I had been working on it for a few weeks. The fact that all of us were under lockdown gave me some extra time in the evenings and weekends to focus on learning the Microsoft Teams platform and create an app on it which addressed a gap which I noticed in my day to day use. 

We all get a lot of Teams messages daily and need a way to manage them or come back to them at a later time. Snooze bot helps us do exactly that. It lets us Snooze message which we want to deal with later. When a message is snoozed, we get an option to select the duration after which Snooze Bot should remind us about the message. When the time arrives, the bot will send you personal message in teams reminding about the snoozed message.


If you haven't checked out Snooze Bot yet, feel free to install it and give it a try. I am happy to hear any feedback and potential improvements. 

One of my goals when creating the app was to learn about the Microsoft Teams developer platform and also blog about the interesting things I came across. So in this series of posts, let's outline some Microsoft Teams development concepts which I found really useful. The first one being posting an Adaptive Card carousel as a welcome message when the bot is added by the user.

It's always recommended as a good practice to send a welcome message when the user adds the bot. According to the Microsoft docs: 

In personal contexts, welcome messages set your bot's tone. The message includes a greeting, what the bot can do, and some suggestions for how to interact (for example, “Try asking me about …”). If possible, these suggestions should return stored responses without having to sign in.

Also, sending the welcome message one of the requirements before the app is accepted in AppSource by the validation team.

So we can send a simple chat message from the bot to the user as a welcome message. So why go for an Adaptive Card carousel? This is because adding too much information in a single message can get overwhelming for the user and they might be tempted to just skip it. Also if your bot has a lot of functionality you need a way to efficiently present that information to the user. This is where carousels created by Adaptive Cards some into play:  


So let's have a look at the code which helps us send the welcome message in Snooze Bot

The Adaptive Card json:


First, we need to define the Adaptive cards which will show up in the welcome message. I am storing mine as json files in my solution. The cards contain helpful text and also links to images which show the functionality of Snooze Bot

The Bot:


Next, the actual bot code itself. Since I am using .NET Core for this bot we will need the Adaptive cards nuget package:


And here is the code where we do the following things:

1) Capture the OnMembersAddedAsync event from the Bot Framework
2) Get the Adaptive cards from the json files 
3) Insert the adaptive cards into a Bot Framework carousel and send it to the user

And that's it. Whenever a user will download and install the app, the welcome message will be sent to them introducing your bot and it's funtionality. Hope you found the post useful!

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