Posts Tagged ‘programming’

Create automated chat bots with Tars, without coding

We don’t need to tell you how important it is for vendors to communicate with their customers in ever engaging ways. We also don’t need to emphasize the criticality of understanding exactly what a potential customer is looking for when visiting your product website and presenting him with a range of choices from your services. But not every business can invest in a full-blown hundred (or so) member team to handle front-desk operations for their website. And frankly, the whole “people handling front-desk operations for online businesses” thing is just not tech-savvy enough.

Enter – intuitive, responsive, and engaging conversational chat bots!

Chat bots are the “in” thing currently being used to support and scale business teams in their relations with customers. They’re those little pop-ups that magically appear in the bottom left or right of the screen the very instant you land on a product site asking how they may assist you. While thousands of organizations out there are using chat bots to perform basic marketing tasks, only a few are doing it smartly with coding-less and amicable chat bots created with Tars. Let’s find out what makes Tars chat bots stand apart.

Tars – letting you create appealing conversational chat bots, without code

Tars is one of the coolest online chat-bot creators through which you can create custom chat bots without any coding. Bots created with this awesome tool can benefit you in 5 different ways:

  • Provide engaging information about your products and services 24*7
  • Converse with thousands of website visitors at the same time
  • Save money by eliminating the need for people handling front-desk work
  • Guarantee 100% customer satisfaction since users feel someone is actually talking to them, giving them all the answers they seek upfront, professionally, and quickly
  • Automate repetitive tasks like email notifications, data export, responses, etc.
  • Double-up as personal assistants for customers making them feel that they’re being paid special attention (and that can be critical for landing sales)

In the time and age where people don’t wish to waste even a second on things that don’t interest them or take too long, expecting them to fill up entire forms detailing their queries or requesting feedback is going to get you nowhere. But lively bots that appear to be real people asking the right questions quickly are sure to get the job done. Plus, they’re entertaining – at least you can make them so!

The best features of Tars you can use to your advantage include:

  • Programming-less chat bot creation
  • File / Image uploads of up to 5GB
  • Support for uploading the chat-bot html to your own domain and use that instead of the Tars domain
  • API integration
  • Option to customize user’s conversational experience based on their responses
  • Custom redirection to a thank you page, feedback page, homepage, etc
  • Facility to receive partial data even if users don’t finish their conversation with your bot

Well then, shall we play around a bit?

This is how it rolls

A quick suggestion for this one: don’t jump straight into “Get Started for Free” with Tars. When you visit the tool’s website, scroll down to locate the interactive image of a mobile. This is actually a live demo of a bot created with Tars. Play with it, you’ll have fun!

Thereafter:

  1. Click on the “Get Started for Free” button and create a new account
  2. You’ll receive a welcome message through a – wait for it – chat bot! You may want to engage in a conversation with the bot detailing why you need the services of Tars bots and how they can help you better. Neat promotional strategy using their own product like that don’t you think?
  3. Anyways, by now you should be redirected to your dashboard where you’ll see a large panel to create your first bot in the middle of the screen, and some helpful links in the left hand panel:
    1. Getting Started Guide
    2. Video Tutorials
    3. My Chatbots
    4. Settings
    5. Billing
      Note: Before you start, you could see some interesting examples of Chatbots for inspiration through a small link given at the bottom left corner of the screen.
  4. To start creating your first bot, click on the “Create a bot” button. You’ll see a floating pop-up with a sample mobile screen and suggestive bot categories.
  5. Pick the category of bot you wish to create from a list of readymade templates or create the bot from scratch. We picked the “Feedback bot” template.
  6. The sample mobile screen livened up with suggestive questions about a feedback form for a pizza outlet. We clicked on “Use this template” to customize our bot.
  7. Next, our dashboard transformed into specific options for the template we’d selected with a flow diagram (gambit) filled with sample questions which we could modify as per need and options to make, configure, design, and share the bot in the left hand panel.
  8. Clicking on each node of the gambit opened up detailed options to customize it in any manner needed. Honestly, the work Tars creators had put into thinking everything through could be seen, and it was appreciable.
  9. After making all changes, to see how the bot would look in action, click on the “Preview” button on the top right corner of the screen.
  10. To deploy the bot on your website, click on the “Distribute / Share” button from the left hand panel and select the “Bot Widget” option. You’ll see the HTML code along with relevant instructions to place and use the bot widget on your website.

That’s it, you’re done!

  • Create engaging, intuitive, and amicable chat bots without any coding with @hellotars.ai hellotars.com via @supermonitoring

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Evaluating Tars bots and verdict

At $49 a month, all the capabilities of Tars bots combined with the sales benefits they bring make this a tool worth trying out. A few good to have features that we spotted included more “humanly” responses to user inputs like an invalid email id or phone number. Some people might find it uncomfortable sharing their email ids and phone numbers to bots. Everything else about the tool was great. Thumbs up!

Code, Test & Learn with JSFiddle

Ever heard of the term “Code Playground”? If you like software programming, have an insatiable need to learn, keep monitoring the web for code editors, and like to play with code snippets, that shouldn’t be a new term for you. A “Code playground” is a website, application, or tool that lets you practice and learn by offering a space to write and test code. Think of it like a calculator – you punch in an equation and can view the result instantly to verify your own calculation and make corrections if wrong. Now apply the same concept to an online code editor that lets you type in code, save it, execute it, and also view the results.

There are a number of online tools that let you test your code and improve it to hone your programming skills. Herein, we’re focusing on one of them that lets you do all this and much more. We’re talking about JSFiddle, one of the most popular code playgrounds available online today.

jsfiddle

JSFiddle – the fun online code editor

JSFiddle is a name most JavaScript developers recognize. It lets coders work on applications, review code snippets, share code snippets, collaborate and do more. And don’t go by its name; the tool lets you work with JavaScript, HTML, CSS, as well as any combination of these three web technologies. Create your code snippets in these languages in their respective dedicated windows and hit the “Run” button to see what your work results in, in the “Result” window. That’s how simple it all is.

JSFiddle is often credited as being one of the first online code editors or “code playgrounds” that created an example which many others followed. Here’s an overview of the tool’s main features:

  • The tool includes separate, adjustable sections called “panels” for CSS, HTML, and JS, and also an execution panel
  • If you log into the tool, you can debug your code snippets called “fiddles” remotely
  • It executes your fiddles based on an inbuilt collection of frameworks
  • Lets you collaborate in real-time with tracing
  • Allows you to update / publish your fiddles privately or publicly
  • Enables referencing to files from within your fiddles by adding them
  • Allows you to invite team members to join your session and see you work. They can also give their inputs via a live chat
  • The tool also includes a code beautifier that indents and aligns everything
  • All code is color coordinated and the panel gives syntax error feedback on missing closing tags and misplaced elements

Additionally, users can create their profiles in the tool and can save and publish their fiddles with their profile names. All collaborators are also given profile names and images to add a little “fun” factor.

Working of the tool

As already pointed out, the tool is very simple to work with. It doesn’t require you to have any prior experience of HTML, CSS or JavaScript, though it is good to have some before you begin.

Go to jsfiddle.net and you shall see the main screen divided into 5 sections – left hand panel that lists down some options, 3 sections dedicated to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript respectively, and a results section. There will also be a main menu that includes various buttons to manage your code once you start writing. If you wish to work with a particular library from any of these languages, you can click on the settings icon and the top right corner of each language’s panel and select the library you need. Once all of this is done, you can begin creating your fiddles.

Click inside each panel to initiate the cursor and start writing. Once all your code has been written (in one or two or all panels) hit the “Run” button from the main menu to view the results in the Results panel. You can click on the “Tidy” button to align everything in its right place and choose specific settings that you wish to work with by clicking on the “Settings” button in the top right corner of the screen.

jsfiddle1

To invite team members and start collaborating, click on the “Collaborate” button from the main menu. You should see a pop-up explaining how you can send your session’s link to your team. Also, a column with some options should appear when your collaboration session starts. These options include profile editing, adding members, a microphone to activate voice chat, and a message icon to start a live chat. To save your fiddles, you’ll need to create an account with JSFiddle and sign into it. Signing up is quite straightforward and should take only a couple of seconds.

Pros VS Cons

Now comes the time for weighing out JSFiddle’s positives against its negatives.

Positives include:

  • Online code editing along with collaboration feature
  • Easy publishing of fiddles, both privately and publicly
  • Creating dummy AJAX requests with the tool is very easy
  • The tool is totally free of cost

You can also have a quick look at the tool features to know more about its pros.

Negatives include:

  • Some users who’ve worked with other online code editors can argue that the tool isn’t quick enough is displaying results
  • There’s no way to find out who has forked your fiddle
  • If you wish to work with only one or two of the technologies, there’s no way to hide the remaining panels.
  • Create and Execute HTML + CSS + JavaScript live within one tool: @jsfiddle jsfiddle.net/ via @supermonitoring

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Bottom Line

JSFiddle is honestly is a good place to practice and hone your programming skills. You don’t need to install anything, you don’t need to pay anything, and you don’t need to learn anything before starting. There are only few tools which let you do all these.

Find code snippets easily with SearchCode

Software programmers and hackers often need working code snippets to either get better at what they do, or to test their programs. GitHub, Bitbucket, Google Code, Sourceforge, etc. are some popular websites that let users create and index large databases of working code. Software engineers keep monitoring these websites for sample codes or projects that can help them analyze and understand programming problems better.

searchcode

But knowing the exact portal where you can find the specific code snippet you’re looking for can be tricky. For example, if a programmer wishes to refer to the code for a working computer card game (say, solitaire), how can he find it out directly without switching from one code search engine to another and accessing various code samples? Through SearchCode!

SearchCode – The source code search genie!

SearchCode is an indexed and searchable source code repository that lets you search for working code snippets, examples of functions, API’s and libraries over 90 languages across 10+ sources. It searches code from multiple repositories like GitHub, Bitbucket, Google Code, and others and displays the results with the relevant lines highlighted. All you need to do is provide it a query with the exact lines of code (LOC) that you’re looking for, and the tool will do the rest. That way, you not only get to experience the power of various code repositories at one place, but also get to save time since you have the exact lines of code that you want highlighted on your screen. Cool, eh?

The biggest challenge web crawlers face while searching for code examples is special characters. Most indexers don’t index special characters; also, they can often take up a lot of time. SearchCode overcomes both these issues by letting you search for code by function / method name, constant / variable names, operations, security flaws, usage, and also by special characters much faster that other source code search engines.

A few of the most noticeable features of SearchCode include:

  • It uses Sphinx to conduct code searches
  • Most information is presented in such a way that you shouldn’t need to click through, but can if required
  • Searches can be filtered down to a specific source or identified language using different refinement options
  • It is an open source tool and thus, is completely free of cost

How the tool works

To start using SearchCode visit the tool’s homepage and you’ll see a search box in the middle of the screen. If you know the exact LOC to be searched, type it in the search box and hit ‘Search’. Alternatively, you can also type in the name of a function / method (say, Palindrome) and hit ‘Search’.

The next screen will display all results for the LOC or method you’ve searched for with the specific words in the search query highlighted. The results will include programs written in different languages (like C++, Prolog, Haskell, D, C, Java, Python, etc) and from different repositories. You can filter the search results by source repository as well as programming language through checkbox options in the left hand panel of the screen. Once you have your desired filters select, hit the green button that says ‘Apply’ and your results will be narrowed down. From the results, you can pick the code snippet that appeals the most to you and use it to suit your purpose.

You can also try SearchCode out through sample filters that you can find if you scroll the homepage down a little. Click on a filter to access its related results instantly. You can also use SearchCode’s API in your application to automate your code search. Moreover, the tool offers premium features through ‘SearchCode server’, a paid plan that lets you download the tool and install on your own server so that you can have powerful code search in your own cloud.

searchcode1

Free VS Paid Plan

SearchCode can be used in 3 ways:

  • Community Edition – Completely free, but you cannot change the look-and-feel of the results and you don’t get any support
  • Full Version without Support – $99 for the full edition with all the goodies but no support
  • Server Edition – $699 for the premium version with support for 2 years, free upgrades during this period and the option to make your own feature requests
  • Find working code snippets, examples, functions, and APIs with a click, try searchcode.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Weighing it Out

SearchCode actually proves to be a powerhouse tool for programmers and hackers alike. It offers sample code, working examples, projects, all the push and help a quick learner needs to reach the stars. Come to think of it, the tool’s doesn’t have a downside to it. That is if you’re using its community edition. The paid versions do offer extended functionality and support, but then, are they really worth it when you have repositories like GitHub, Bitbucket, and the lot out there? People working in time critical projects who value each second would definitely say ‘Yes’; others, probably no.

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