Apparently, 1.4 billion people used chat apps last year making it the most used type of mobile app around. While there are many options for meeting new people and chatting to random strangers, you also have the option to chat to a bot. Kik have made their own Kik bot for you to be friends with but you can make your own bot too. Here’s how.
Why make a Kik bot? Why not? It’s straightforward, interesting and teaches you a bit about how automation works. Plus, Kik have opened their own Bot Store so if yours is good enough, it could feature in there. Considering the current quality of awful corporate and celebrity bots, the current bar isn’t exactly high so you could achieve great things with the right idea.
If you build your bot the Kik way, you will need to know a bit about either Python or Node.js. If you use one of the many bot platforms out there, you don’t need to know code.
Planning your Kik bot
Before leaping in with both feet, you need to spend a little while planning your bot. What do you want it to do? What do you want it to achieve? What is going to make it different from all the other bots out there? Consider all these questions before moving on to the build stage as having a clear goal in mind will help you maintain focus as you construct your Kik bot.
If you’re planning to build a bot just because you can then these questions are less important. It doesn’t matter if it has been done before because you’re doing it for yourself. If you’re planning to build a bot for others to use then these questions are more important. If your bot does nothing new, why would anyone use yours?
You will also want to do some of these:
- Think of a short, snappy name for your Kik bot.
- Pick a personality. Will it be sarcastic? Friendly? Aloof?
- Decide on your target audience and subject matter.
- Think about the kinds of conversations you want to have.
- Consider how to redirect conversations that go off topic.
Building the bot
As you can see, there is a lot that needs to go into the planning of your Kik bot. The more work you do there, the easier the build process will be. You will have a clear goal and a strong idea about what your bot will look and feel like. While you might not have much of an idea of the chat part of the process yet, you will likely know how you want your bot to say things even if you don’t yet know what you want it to say.
So to build the bot you will need the Kik app and some information.
- Get it from Apple here or the Google Play Store here.
- You will then need to visit the Kik Dev website here and log in.
- Open the Kik app on your device and scan the Kik Code on the dev page.
- Wait for the Kik bot @Botsworth to send you a message and follow the wizard within that message. You will need to enter a user ID, display name and profile image.
Your bot should now be created ready to be given some intelligence.
Build a bot the Kik way
Once done with the steps above, visit the Kik Getting Started page.
- Install your API library as directed either Python or Node.js. The manual is pretty good here. It shows you example bots to help you configure yours too which is useful.
- Kik have their own Github page too if you need a little help.
- Build your bot using your code language of choice.
- Test, test and test again and invite friends to help you test it.
- When you’re happy, release the bot into the wild through the Kik bot store.
You may have noticed I glossed over the actual building of the bot. Kik have done a much better job than I at describing the actual creation process so I don’t want to just copy their work.
Build a bot using ChatFlow
ChatFlow is just one of the many API tools that makes bot creation simple. I don’t know how to code as it is all Greek to me. I like my letters to make sense so code genuinely is indecipherable for me. However, a tool like ChatFlow makes it simple. It is one of the many API platforms on the internet that turns bot creation into a GUI experience.
- Follow the steps above under Building the bot to download the app and log into kik.com.
- Follow the instructions to create and name your bot using Botsworth.
- Select Configuration within the Kik.dev website and copy the bot name and API key.
- Create a ChatFlow application and create a flow beginning with kik-in and kik-out.
- Right click the kik-in node, select ‘Add new kikbot-controller’ and edit. Paste the bot name and API key and select Add.
- Right click kik-out and select the bot name and click OK.
- Select Deploy.
This creates a basic Kik bot. It will merely reply the same message that you send it but the bare bones of your bot have been created. From here you can develop more advanced messages and interactions for your bot until you are completely happy.
The instructions within ChatFlow are very clear and logical even I could create a chat bot!
Building a bot in Kik is either an exercise in coding or in configuration using an app. Both ways achieve much the same thing but the first will teach you to code too. Kik isn’t the only one allowing bots to live in their ecosystem and they are a growing trend on the internet. Were I looking for a new career to get me through the next few years, learning to code intelligent bots would definitely be one I would consider.
However, as I can’t code and don’t even understand the most basic terms, I have to depend on third-party API platforms to do it for me. I hope you can achieve more!