Teacherbot Dev-Log #1: Z.I.P.

Hello everyone, Sam the Intern here! I’ve decided to start a development (b)log here on the website so anyone who is interested can see the progress being made on the Teacherbot service.

For those that have never seen it, the Teacherbot test site is an environment to develop and house our beloved chat/Twitter bots. Over the past two weeks I’ve been working on reformatting the test-site with first time users in mind. Instead of tossing the user into the deep end and hoping they can stay afloat juggling both the chatbot creation and getting the bot onto twitter, I’ve been actively separating these two steps. Whereas previously to make a bot you had to equip it with both chat and Twitter functionality, now we have two separate sections in the bot-hub. Users can now focus on each function in isolation, hopefully lightening the mental burden and increasing the end-quality of the bots.

A new divide between Chatbot and Twitterbot opens

Additionally, by moving the ‘bot files’ section away from the ‘bot hub’ I aimed to erect a barrier between testing the bot and tampering with its inner workings. With the initial hurdles lowered, I’m confident the site will feel more welcoming to users…unless they come loaded with zip files.

Currently, the core service we use to develop and host our bots is Pandorabots and to get your bot’s brain from their site to ours, requires the download and upload of a ‘harmless’ .zip file. The first time I tried to upload said innocent .zip file, it crashed the test-site. How naïve I was at that moment to think “it’s probably a quick fix”. From Wednesday to Friday I toiled, sunrise to late afternoon, and finally, abruptly, I arrived at a solution.

There’s still work to be done: right now the files inside the zip are uploaded with file-names distorted by random characters, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. My first two weeks working on Teacherbot have been exhilarating and the team has been very welcoming so my spirits are high. And, after all, it’s probably a quick fix.

Spot the difference

For anyone who’s interested feel free to navigate over to our Sign Up page and we’ll send you the details to test out the service yourself. All feedback is appreciated!

I’ve also been uploading all my programming progress to a public github repository so the main website code can be found here: https://github.com/dev-teacherbot/dev-teacherbot-site

Sam Knight (s1503602@sms.ed.ac.uk)

 

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