At its Build developer conference last year, Microsoft introduced the Bot Framework, offering developers the means to easily create interactive and 'intelligent' tools and assistants, as part of its broader plans to build what it calls Conversation as a Platform.
This week, Microsoft announced that over 130,000 developers have "registered to build with the Bot Framework" since its release. The company is now expanding on its offering further with new capabilities, including Adaptive Cards, which allows devs to "write cards once that look great across multiple platforms".
Adaptive Cards resources are already available on GitHub, and using a single set of code, developers can easily create, test and deploy those cards for use on multiple platforms. Microsoft describes these new capabilities as "one framework, multiple canvases".
"Using the Bot Framework," Microsoft explained, "developers can also now publish to new channels including Bing, Cortana and Skype for Business, and implement Microsoft's payment request API for fast and easy checkout with their bots."
"With Bing, we wanted to ensure that Bot discovery is as seamless as possible," Microsoft added. The Bing search engine is getting integrated bot support as part of the web search results page, allowing users to easily expand their enquiries to quickly get to the information that they need - without having to conduct multiple separate searches, which might not necessarily give them the answers that they seek.
Microsoft says developers can create some "amazing conversational experiences" using the Bot Framework, building on the company's 'Intelligent Cloud, Intelligent Edge' vision, including the ability to connect with other services, such as Microsoft Teams, as well as third-party tools and products.