Showing RSS and Table Type Replies in SUSI Messenger Bots

All the messengers have a “plain text” reply support. To show web search (RSS) or table type replies, either:

  1. We need a “list type” (as in Facebook messenger) or “table type” reply support built in the messenger itself.
                                                                  or
  2. We need to convert the RSS or table type reply by SUSI API to plain text, so that we can send it, due to the “plain text” reply support available in almost every messenger.

The second point is the most favorable approach, as that way, replying with RSS or table type results is dependent only on the text support feature in the messenger. This way RSS or table type replies can be shown in messengers like REST API Gitter (which do not provide any other reply type support except text).

In SUSI web app, the UI of the web search and table type results:

As the SUSI web app is made in React js, it provided the app with necessary features to show the results this way. The messengers may not be having these required features.

So the task is we need to convert the RSS or table type replies by SUSI API to plain text to send it to the messenger.

Let’s work it out.

Converting RSS results to text:

First get familiar with the SUSI API reply to query “why” by visiting this url – http://api.susi.ai/susi/chat.json?q=why.

The JSON object returned will be constituting an array of objects as the value of the data key like:

"data": [
        {
        "title": "Why is Oracle male?",
        "description": "Why is Oracle male?. http dba oracle com why is male htm. Oracle Why is masculine?. ",
        "link": "http://dba-oracle.com/t_why_is_oracle_male.htm"
      }
]

If we notice carefully each object has 3 main keys namely “title”, “description” and “link”. So extracting these 3 properties from each object and binding them together into 1 string is the task we need to do.

So we traverse each object (i.e. rss result) in the data array and we keep on appending the values of “title”, “description” and “link” key values to the ans variable. At the end we send this resultant string to the messenger bot as a reply.  

Suppose we have the returned JSON object, in the data variable.

// storing the number of rss results
var metaCnt = data.answers[0].metadata.count;
    for(var i=0;i<metaCnt;i++){
        ans += ('Title : ');
ans += data.answers[0].data[i].title+', ';
        ans += ('Link : ');
        ans += data.answers[0].data[i].link+', ';
        ans += '\n\n';
    }

// send the message in ans variable to the messenger

Converting table type replies to text:

First get familiar with the SUSI API reply to query “why” by visiting this url – http://api.susi.ai/susi/chat.json?q=universities+in+australia.

The JSON object returned will be constituting an array of objects representing universities as the value of the data key in this form:

{
    "alpha_two_code": "AU",
    "name": "Australian Correspondence Schools",
    "country": "Australia",
    "web_page": "http://www.acs.edu.au/"
}

Here too, each object has 3 main keys namely “name”, “country” and “web_page”. So extracting these 3 properties from each object and binding them together into 1 string can make the things work.

Again traverse each object (i.e. university object) in the data array and we keep on appending the values of “name”, “country” and “web_page” key values to the ans variable. At the end we send this resultant string to the messenger bot as a reply.

Suppose we have the returned JSON object in the data variable.

    // the 3 main columns which we need are stored in colNames variable
    var colNames = data.answers[0].actions[0].columns;
    
    // storing the number of table entries
    var metaCnt = data.answers[0].metadata.count;
    for(var i=0;i<metaCnt;i++){
        for(var cN in colNames){
            // The column name
            ans += (colNames[cN]+' : ');
            // value for that column name
            ans += data.answers[0].data[i][cN]+', ';
        }
        ans += '\n\n';
    }

    // send the message in ans variable to the messenger

Resources

  1. By Slobodan Stojanović from smashing magazineDevelop a chat bot with node js.
  2. By Mikhail Larionov from Facebook blogsList templates and check box plugin