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Build Bots for Teams Using Power Automate – Getting Started with AtBot
Note: This article applies to our Enterprise and US Government customers located in GCC.
Bots in Teams are a great way to provide your users with access to systems and information outside of Teams while keeping them in a single application to perform their jobs. This single-pane-of-glass concept is not new. In the past, this was always the goal of an organization’s intranet. Today, we see Teams as the new intranet and bots and applications integrated in Teams are the way forward with this paradigm shift.
How do I get started with bots?
As your organization begins to adopt Teams as the communication and collaboration platform, defining a strategy for integrations will become crucial. Fortunately, there is a freemium bot you can get from the Teams App Store that will let you dip your toe in the proverbial AI pool, with very little time investment, that you can train and build on without having to be a developer.
AtBot – The no-code bot building platform
AtBot is a SaaS-based solution for building bots without code, see www.atbot.io. These bots can be deployed to Teams, the web, Alexa, SMS, or any other custom application. As mentioned above, there is a free version that gives you the ability to try it out in Teams with no time or usage limits.
The rest of this article is going to detail how to get the free version AtBot for Teams and how to train it using Power Automate. If you are interested in more information about the premium version to build custom bots and its deep integration with Microsoft Cognitive Services, please reach out to email@example.com.
Get AtBot from the Teams App Store
The first step toward becoming an AI master is to acquire the AtBot bot from the Teams App Store. This store is accessed from the Teams client on the left-hand side. Note: If you do not see the Apps button, your organization has blocked access to apps. For US Government customers, AtBot is available for Teams in GCC. Be sure to talk to your IT Administrator if you do not see it in the App Store.
With the App Store open, search for AtBot
Click on the AtBot app and the click Add. This will add the bot to a private chat where you can use it personally. You can also add the bot to a team, but this article focuses on adding the bot and using it in private chat.
AtBot will prompt you to type or click the Help button. Once you do that, it will prompt you to log in using the same Office 365 credentials you use in Teams. It’s important to note that AtBot uses Azure AD OAuth and will never receive or ask for your password.
After you log in, AtBot will tell you that it can’t do much yet and gives you a link to a getting started article. You can browse that article and follow the steps in it to get a better idea of how you build skills in Power Automate. In the next step we are providing a templated skill to deploy that is a bit more complex than the knock knock joke.
Building a COVID Check In skill
We built and templatized a skill that you can import and use in your bot. This skill runs the user through a set of questions, then sends the answers to a specified email recipient. You can download the template from the link below:
Start off by logging in to Power Automate using the same Office 365 credentials you use in Teams. Once there, go to My Flows -> Import. Select the ZIP file you downloaded after you click the Upload button.
Scroll down to the connections and click the little wrench icon. You will now need to create a connection for each of the connectors that are used: AtBot Logic, Office 365 Outlook, and Office 365 Users. Start with AtBot Logic and click Create new.
From the Create Connection screen, find AtBot Logic and click the Add Connection button. This will prompt you to log in using your Office 365 Credentials. You may see an error message after first login attempt, just click Create again. Note: if you have previously used AtBot, you may not need to do this step, go on to the next.
Once you have created the connection successfully, you can now navigate back to the import screen and you should see the connection in the Import setup prompt. Select your connection and click Save. Repeat these steps for the other two connectors.
Once you have created connections, the Import button will become active and you can click Import. Once imported, it can take a minute or two before the flow is editable. Once it is, open the flow in edit mode.
It will look like this
The AtBot actions in this flow perform the conversation steps between the user. The Office 365 Users action gets the user profile, and the Outlook action performs the sending of the email. Take a few minutes to explore each action and how this flow works.
The trigger of the flow is called “When a keyword is used”. This AtBot trigger is fired when a user of the bot says the phrase in chat that matches with the keyword the trigger expects. Also note that this trigger is configured as Shared. This means that any user in your Office 365 tenant will have access to this skill when using the free version of AtBot. To avoid collision with other users that may be following this same tutorial, you may want to change this setting to Personal. That would mean that only you (the creator of the flow) will be able to access it from AtBot.
Next you will want to update the email address that the information is sent to. Click to expand the Outlook action and update the To value with the email address you wish to use. Once you are finished click Save to update the flow.
Testing the skill in Teams
Now that your flow has been imported and updated, it’s time to test it in the bot. Note: Any flow that is created using an AtBot trigger is considered a skill. Go back to Teams and type “Help” to the AtBot Bot. This will now display your newly created skill and also tell you what keyword to use to execute it.
Type “Check in” to the bot and this will start the skill and walk you through the steps of the flow.
The skill will end with the following and you should see an email in the inbox you specified. Note: the interstitial advertisements are removed once you upgrade to premium.
If you are having issues with the skill, Power Automate does a really good job of showing you where the failure is occurring. From the My Flows screen, click to open the flow for this skill. You will see the 28-day run history. Any failed skill will show as a failed run which you can open and inspect to see where it went wrong.
We hope this presents you with an opportunity to build on top of what you learned in this tutorial. Please explore the AtBot actions and what you can do conversationally, as well as the Power Automate connectors and what data you can integrate with out-of-the-box.
Full documentation on AtBot can be found at https://admin.atbot.io/Docs
Additional videos and tutorials at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRUbWpikjmH9-zHeqSu8bzA
About the author
Joe Herres is an entrepreneur, patented inventor, and software developer. He has lead teams in the public sector doing app modernization, SharePoint intranet development and public-facing web development. As the Co-CEO of H3 Solutions and one of the developers of the AtBot platform, Joe has a wide range of knowledge in the AI and chat bot space as well as a deep understanding of Azure and Teams.
Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.