What's new in Bot Framework Composer?

Bot Framework Composer, a visual authoring tool for building conversational AI applications, has seen strong uptake from customers and positive feedback since entering general availability at Microsoft Build 2020. We continue to invest in ensuring Composer provides the best possible experience for our customers.

July 2021 - v2.1.0

Welcome to the July 2021 release of Bot Framework Composer. This article summarizes key new features and improvements in the Bot Framework Composer 2.1 stable release. There are a number of updates in this version that we hope you will like.

Import QnA Maker knowledge bases from QnA Maker

Those with existing QnA Maker knowledge bases can now import their knowledge base content to Composer. Developers can now add knowledge bases from URLs, from QnA Maker, or create question-and-answer pairs manually. This improvement makes seamless the connection between QnA Maker content and Composer.

For more information, see the section on importing an existing knowledge base from the QnA Maker portal in the Create a QnA Maker knowledge base article.

Watch panel

The addition of the Watch panel gives developers the ability to track multiple properties in memory while testing bots in Web Chat. The Watch panel can be used to track default properties (like ones corresponding to this, dialog, and turn) or properties you define. Watch panel eliminates the need to send status messages while testing, and keep variable debugging organized.

The example below shows the turn property in the Watch panel.

Watch panel

For more information, see the Watch panel section of the Test and debug bots using Bot Framework Web Chat article.

List entity UI

The new list entity UI feature makes it easy to add list entities. Developers can use the UI to add lists of normalized values and associated synonyms to be recognized. Once created, the list entity syntax will be automatically added to the corresponding trigger and appear in the User input page.

For more information, see the list entity section in the Define intents with entities article.

Add notes

Developers can now add notes to their triggers, dialogs, and activities. With notes, bot creators can add, edit, and delete supporting documentation while working in the Composer authoring canvas.

Below is an example of a note added to a Send a response action. The content of the note, Here is a note., is displayed:

Add note example

For more information, see the article on adding notes.

Orchestrator

Composer users can now develop bots in NodeJS using Orchestrator. This was a preview feature last release but is now supported.

Additionally, developers can now use alternative Orchestrator models. The flow makes it easy to update your language models all within Composer's Advanced Settings View (json).

For more information, see the Orchestrator article.

Provision and publish

Bot creators can now select the operating system (Windows or Linux) from the provisioning page. Based on your bot template, a default OS will be selected, but you now have the choice of updating that yourself.

For more information, see the Provision Azure resources article.

Global sign in to Azure

Composer users will now only be prompted to log into Azure to connect to Azure resources. This small improvement makes reduces time spent logging in for bot developers, and UI improvements allow you to easily switch tenants if needed.

Power Virtual Agents as a skill

Additional integration was done with Power Virtual Agents, part of the Power Platform, including improved capabilities to extend PVA solutions as skills.

Additional information

May 2021 - v2.0.0

Welcome to the May 2021 release of Bot Framework Composer. This article summarizes key new features and improvements in the Bot Framework Composer 2.0 stable release. There are a number of updates in this version that we hope you will like.

New User and getting started experience

Composer has a New User and Getting Started Experience that makes it easier than ever to create bots as well as assess what they need to run.

Templates

Developers can now create bots using templates, which are available from the Composer home screen. These templates use packages and take a dependency on the Adaptive Runtime. The runtime is now separated from your bot’s code and added as a package reference, allowing you to focus on extending your bot without ever editing the runtime. Below is a screenshot of available C# templates.

Greeting trigger

These templates bootstrap your development by providing pre-built dialogs and natural language models, support for common conversational scenarios, such as interruption, context switching, and even integration with Microsoft 365.

Note

Node templates are still in preview.

Pre-built experiences – Enterprise Assistant

The Enterprise Assistant template provides a starting point for those interested in creating a virtual assistant for common enterprise scenarios. With Composer, you have the flexibility to personalize the assistant to reflect the values, brand, and tone of your company.

For more information, see Enterprise Assistant overview and tutorial.

Getting started experience

After creating a bot from a template, the Getting Started Experience assists you with what you need to add to your bot, with associated documentation to help you along the way. The example below is what the Get Started menu looks like after creating a bot using the C# Core Bot with Language template.

Get started menu

Shown will be any Required, Recommended, and Optional steps recommended when working with a specific type of bot.

LG and LU authoring improvements

For this release, the UI for Send a response and Ask a question nodes (on the design canvas) have been updated to show details of the response content, instead of the activity template syntax. Users also have the ability to use an expanded editing area when editing LG in the code response editor, or editing attachment content.

Send a response updates

Additionally, when adding Trigger phrases, along with User input sections (like in Ask a question actions), users are now presented with helpers to allow them to insert pre-built or machine learned entity definitions. You're also now able to tag one or more words within an utterance with an entity that has been defined, or simply insert an entity definition.

Provisioning and publishing

This release improves on the built-in publish and provision capabilities of Composer. Users can now create a publishing profile, which they can provision new or existing resources to. After creating a publishing profile, you can easily deploy your bot to Azure.

Publishing profile page

For more information, see Provision Azure resources and Publish a bot to Azure.

Additionally, users can request help from an Azure administrator to create a publishing profile on their behalf. For more information about Azure administrators provisioning resources, see the Admin handoff for provisioning Azure resources section.

Create a CI/CD pipeline (preview)

Developers can also create a CI/CD pipeline to manage their bot's updates and deployment. For more information, see Create a CI/CD pipeline (Preview).

Testing and debugging

Testing and debugging features were added this release that make it easier than ever to assess and fix your bots. Users can use Web Chat in the Composer UI, and can now inspect the Output while their bots run.

Test and debug updates - Web Chat and Output

For more information, see Debugging and validation and Test and debug bots using Bot Framework Web Chat.

Create, publish, and consume your own packages

This release marks the general availability of the component model, a key pillar of which is working with packages. Users can now create their own packages, publish them to NuGet, consume them in bots, update them, and remove them.

Package manager screenshot

For more information, see Understanding packages, Creating packages, and Managing packages for your bot.

Orchestrator

Orchestrator is an alternative approach to consuming language understanding (LU) data, and helps arbitrate between multiple LUIS and QnA Maker applications to route user input to an appropriate skill or to subsequent language processing services.

Orchestrator is now out of preview and available as a package in the Package manager. Once the package is added, the Orchestrator recognizer will appear as a Recognizer type in Composer.

For more information, see Orchestrator.

Azure Bot Service handoff

You can now create Composer bot resources in the Azure portal and open Composer from Azure.

For more information, see Create a bot in Azure.

Admin handoff for provisioning Azure resources

An Azure administrator can also provision Azure resources for users who don't have access to Azure.

For more information, see:

Skills

There are skills-related improvements this release. The skill connection experience was simplified, and less questions are asked now, allowing the automation of wiring up your skill to reduce developer complexity. You can now add a remote skill to your bot project, create a root bot which calls a skill, and create, add, and update a local skill.

For more information, see Create a local skill, Connect to a remote skill, and Add single sign on for a skill.

Additional information

March 2021 - v1.4.0

Welcome to the March 2021 release of Bot Framework Composer. This article summarizes key new features and improvements in the Bot Framework Composer 1.4 stable release. There are many updates in this version that we hope you will like.

LG authoring improvements

Composer makes it easier than ever for developers to add different LG bot responses with the new response editor and command bar. The response editor lets bot developers add responses variation instead of writing LG templates. You can also now add Speech, Attachment, and Suggested Actions to a response by selecting the + next to Text, seen below.

bot responses variations

The command bar assists in adding bot components to templates. You can do the following using the command bar:

  • Insert a template reference from Bot Responses.
  • Insert property reference from a property in memory.
  • Insert prebuilt function from the adaptive expressions library.

command bar

Users who prefer writing templates can also still do so by selecting Switch to code editor.

Speech authoring and SSML support

With the additions of speech authoring and SSML support, developers can now add text-to-speech capabilities to their bots and customize them using SSML tags. The example below shows how a Speech response can be added in the response editor, and how to add SSML tags from the command bar.

speech response

You can also edit speech middleware to further customize your bot's speech capabilities. For more information, read the Speech concept article.

Integrated testing

Composer now lets you test and debug you bots within the app using Web Chat in Composer and the Diagnostics panel. These improvements make it possible to assess and test your bots without leaving the Composer app.

Web Chat in Composer

Integrated testing with Bot Framework Web Chat lets users test their bots within the app instead of the Emulator. When you start your bot, you will now notice the option to Open Web Chat or Test in Emulator

test in Web Chat button

After selecting Open Web Chat, the web chat testing panel will appear on the right. You can send responses and restart the conversation just like you can in the Emulator.

test in Web Chat gif

For more information, see Test with Web Chat.

Diagnostics panel

Bot developers can debug and assess their bots within Composer now too using the Diagnostics panel at the bottom Composer. Selecting the error or warning icons at the top of Composer will put you in the Diagnostics panel. There you can assess Problems, or use the WebChat Inspector to debug issues while testing with the integrated Web Chat.

Diagnostics panel

For more information, see Validation.

Provision and publish improvements

The provision and publish experience was improved this release, including the ability to import a bot from Azure Bot Service. Developers can now:

Note

To enable preview features, select Composer Settings from the Composer menu. Then, on the Application Settings page, find the Preview features and select the features you want to try.

Feature flag preview features

New creation experience (Preview)

The March 2021 release contains many updates to preview features that improve the bot creation experience.

The New creation experience (found under Preview features in the Application Settings) uses a new templating engine built on Yeoman, and a completely new set of templates that use packages and take a dependency on the Adaptive Runtime. The runtime is now separated from your bot’s code and added as a package reference, allowing you to focus on extending your bot without ever editing the runtime.

Package Manager (Preview)

The release also allows you to extend your bot’s functionality through packages, which can contain reusable bot components, like dialogs assets, adapters, and custom actions. After enabling the New creation experience, you will see the Package manager appear on the Composer menu.

You can use the Package Manager to eject your bot's runtime, add packages, edit package sources, and browse packages. Additionally, you can create your own packages and publish them. See the Package Manager README for more information.

Adapters (Preview)

Adapters (found under Project Settings) support lets developers add additional endpoints to bots for messaging services. Bot can be connected to Azure Bot Service channels, or they can be connected to External service adapters. For a full list of available adapters, see the Adapters section of the Bot Builder Community - .NET Extensions README.

Orchestrator (Preview)

Orchestrator is an alternative approach to consuming language understanding (LU) data, and helps arbitrate between multiple LUIS and QnA Maker applications to route user input to an appropriate skill or to subsequent language processing services. This release, Orchestrator updates include improvements of multilingual support.

Additional information

December 2020 - v1.3.0

Welcome to the December 2020 release of Bot Framework Composer. This article summarizes key new features and improvements in Bot Framework Composer 1.3 stable release. There are many updates in this version that we hope you will like. Some of the key highlights include:

Bot project

A multi-bot authoring and management experience. Composer’s Bot project feature supports a high-level authoring experience to create, manage, test, and publish a multi-bot family consisting of a dominant root bot and several skills (local or remote). Both the root bot and the skills are reusable components that can be exported, consumed, and shared among other users.

bot project

In-app Azure login and provisioning

Lets you log in to Azure and provision resources through Composer. This feature enables users to log in to Azure, provision Azure resources, and publish bots, all within the Composer environment.

inapp provision

Localization

Localized versions of Composer. Users can view and experience the Composer application in a language other than English. Check the Application Language settings section of Composer's Application Settings page and select your preferred language in which to display Composer's user interface.

localization image

Telemetry

Enabled a telemetry workstream to collect usage information. The telemetry information will help the Composer team to better understand how the tool is being used and how to improve it. To help us provide the usage data, you can enable the telemetry feature from the Data Collection section of the Application Settings page.

telemetry image

Form dialogs (Preview)

A feature to automatically generate a dialog by defining properties in a form. Using Bot Framework SDK's dialog generation API, Composer's form dialogs feature provides customers with a more straightforward approach to create dialog assets that include the conversation logic, language understanding models, and bot responses.

Orchestrator (Preview)

A top-level recognizer added in Composer. Orchestrator is an alternative approach to consume language understanding (LU) data. Orchestrator will help arbitrate between multiple LUIS and QnA Maker applications to route user input to an appropriate skill or to subsequent language processing services.

Package manager (Preview)

An extensible authoring interface for conversational assets. Using the native package management tools of NuGet and npm, Composer's package manager allows users to find and install packages of prebuilt features such as customizable dialogs, LG templates, and custom actions. Installed packages will add new components that can be used to customize your bot in Composer. Users can view, update, and remove installed packages.

Conversational core template (Preview)

A component model for developing bots with reusable building blocks. With this preview feature enabled, users can build a conversational core template that consists of a configurable adaptive runtime and can be extended by importing packages of functionality or connecting to other bots such as skills.

Release notes v1.3.0

November 2020 - v1.2.0

Welcome to the November 2020 release of Bot Framework Composer. This article summarizes key new features and improvements in Bot Framework Composer 1.2 stable release. There are many updates in this version that we hope you will like. Some of the key highlights include:

Integration with Power Virtual Agents

Integration with Power Virtual Agents (a no-code graphical interface for building bots) enabling users to develop and publish Composer-built dialogs, language understanding, and language generation to their Power Virtual Agents bots.

Extending a PVA bot with Bot Framework Composer../pva/overview-composer-pva.md) is seamless. Users can easily discover and invoke Bot Framework Composer from within PVA, code up a Bot Framework functionality such as Language Generation, and publish it back to PVA with a single click. This integration makes it easier than ever for developers and business users to build bots together.

Enabled easier type selection & IntelliSense

Usability improvements to the properties pane components, enabling easier type selection & IntelliSense. Expressions with enforcement in Composer user interface provides better visibility and improves the overall user experience.

Enhancements to QnA Authoring

Enhanced QnA Maker knowledge base creation and management experience in addition to the existing LUIS integration for language understanding. Enabled multi-turn knowledge base authoring support and improved URL import functionality. This gives users more control and flexibility to create QnA knowledge base within the context of the Composer environment.

Deeper integration with Azure platform

Deeper integration with the Azure platform for publishing applications built with Composer, along with management of related services.

Other notable features

  • New notification panel expressing various system & publishing events
  • New project navigation tree in the bot explorer
  • Support for zoom in and zoom out of the authoring canvas
  • Runtime support for Direct Line App Service Extensions

Insiders: Want to try new features as soon as possible? You can download the nightly Insiders build and try the latest updates as soon as they are available.

Release notes v1.2.0

September 2020 - v1.1.0

Welcome to the September 2020 release of Bot Framework Composer. This article summarizes key new features and improvements in Bot Framework Composer 1.1.1 stable release. There are several updates in this version that we hope you will like. Some of the key highlights include:

QnA Maker knowledge base creation

Integrated QnA Maker knowledge base creation and management in addition to the existing LUIS integration for language understanding. This reduces the need for a customer to leave the context of the Composer environment.

Multilingual authoring capabilities

Internationalization of the product, broadening its accessibility, and introducing multilingual capabilities for bots built with Composer. This allows our customers to do the same.

JavaScript runtime in preview

A continued focus on the fundamentals of the application, with improved performance, enhancements to the overall authoring experience, and broader inclusion for our user base with a preview of the Composer runtime in JavaScript, in addition to the existing C# runtime. This enables customers to export the runtime and use it for other purposes such as adding custom actions.

Skills manifest generation

An improved experience to generate a Bot Framework skills manifest by adding trigger and dialog selections in the forms. This enables our customers to select triggers and dialogs they want to include in the manifest and add corresponding activity types to the manifest's activities property.

Integration with Azure platform

Deeper integration with the Azure platform for publishing applications built with Composer, along with management of related services.

Additional integration with Power Virtual Agents

Additional integration with Power Virtual Agents, part of the Power Platform, including improved capabilities to extend PVA solutions by building Bot Framework skills.

Other improvements

  • Improved language generation editing performance
  • Support for UI schema fly-out menu and form
  • IntelliSense server for Composer text editor
  • Recoil refactor of state management

Release notes v1.1.0

Insiders

Want to try new features as soon as possible? You can download the nightly Insiders build and try the latest updates as soon as they are available.