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December 5-6, 2016: Training
December 6–8, 2016: Tutorials & Conference

Bots as the next UX: Expanding your apps with conversation

Matt Winkler (C+E) (Microsoft), Jennifer Marsman (Microsoft)
5:05pm–5:45pm Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Chat, machine learning, and AI
Location: 310/311 Level: Beginner
Tags: ai, text
Average rating: ***..
(3.50, 2 ratings)

Prerequisite Knowledge

  • Familiarity with programming (Demo code will be primarily in JavaScript.)

What you'll learn

  • Understand the patterns and use cases for extending your apps and services with bots, how to process and understand user input, and how to deploy and integrate your bot into your application


At the confluence of the rise in messaging applications, advances in text and language processing, and users in mobile form factors, bots are quickly emerging as a key area of innovation and excitement. Bots (or conversation agents) are rapidly becoming an integral part of one’s digital experience. They are as vital a way for users to interact with a service or application as is a website or a mobile experience. Developers writing bots all face the same challenges: bots require basic I/O; they must have language and dialogue skills; and they must connect to users—preferably in whatever conversation experience and language the user chooses. Matt Winkler and Jennifer Marsman explain how to address these challenges using the Microsoft Bot Framework, a set of tools and services to easily build bots and add them to any application.

In a code-heavy talk, Matt and Jennifer start with an overview of use cases and customer case studies for enhancing an application with a bot before moving into the “how” of building a bot, focusing on each of the key problems: how to integrate with various messaging services, how to connect to users, and how to process language to understand the user’s intent. At each stage, Matt and Jennifer share code to demonstrate both the basics of building a bot and the key areas for additional extensibility and enhancement.

By the end of this session, you’ll be equipped to get started adding bots to your applications.

Photo of Matt Winkler (C+E)

Matt Winkler (C+E)


Matt Winkler is a principal group program manager in the Data Group at Microsoft, where he leads a program management team building services and tools for developers to build intelligent apps using cognitive APIs, the Bot Framework, and the Cortana Intelligence Suite. Matt has worked at Microsoft for the last 10 years as an evangelist and a program manager working on the .NET Framework, Visual Studio, and Azure Web Sites. As part of the Microsoft big data team, Matt led a PM team building HDInsight, Microsoft’s managed Hadoop and Spark service and Azure data lake analytics. Matt holds a BS in mathematics and computer science from Denison University and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. In his free time, Matt enjoys skiing, hiking, and woodworking.

Photo of Jennifer Marsman

Jennifer Marsman


Jennifer Marsman is the principal software engineer for Microsoft’s AI for Earth Group, where she uses data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to aid with clean water, agriculture, biodiversity, and climate change. She has been featured in Bloomberg for her work using EEG and machine learning to perform lie detection. Previously, Jennifer was a software developer in Microsoft’s Natural Interactive Services Division, where she authored two patents related to search and data mining algorithms. She has also held positions with Ford Motor Company, National Instruments, and Soar Technology. Since 2016, Jennifer has been recognized as one of the top 100 most influential individuals in artificial intelligence and machine learning by Onalytica, reaching the #2 slot in 2018, and in 2009 was chosen as the “techie whose innovation will have the biggest impact” by X-OLOGY for her work with GiveCamps, a weekend-long event where developers code for charity. She has also received many honors from Microsoft, including the Best in Role award for technical evangelism, Central Region Top Contributor Award, Heartland District Top Contributor Award, DPE Community Evangelist Award, CPE Champion Award, MSUS Diversity and Inclusion Award, Gold Club, and Platinum Club. Jennifer is a frequent speaker at software development conferences around the world. She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a master’s degree in computer science and engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she specialized in artificial intelligence and computational theory. To learn more, check out her blog.