Multi-Lingual chat bot with cloud functions.

Bonus post for being away for so long! 🙂 Let’s talk about how to do a multi-lingual Chatbot (MLC).

Each skill is trained on its own individual language. You can mix languages into a single skill, however depending on the language selected the other is treated as either keywords or default language words. This can be handy if only certain language words are commonly used across languages.

For languages like say Korean or Arabic, it gives a limited ability versus say English. For something like English with Spanish, it simply does not work.

There are a number of options to work around this.

Landing point solution

This is where the entry point into your chatbot defines the language to return. By far the easiest solution. In this case you would have for example an English + Spanish website. If the user enters the Spanish website, they get the Spanish skill selected. Likewise with English.

Slightly up from this is having the user select the language at the start of the bot executing. This can help where the anonymous user is forced to one language website, but can’t easily find how to switch.

The downside for this solution is where end users mix language. Somewhat common in certain languages. For example Arabic. They may type in the other language only to get a confused response from the bot.

Preparation work

To show the demo, I first need to create two skills. One in English and one in Spanish. I select the same intents from the catalog to save time.

I also need to create Dialog nodes.. but that is so slow to do by hand! 🙁 No problem. I created a small python script to read the intents and write my dialog nodes for me like so:

Here is the sample script for this demo. Totally unsupported, and unlikely to work with large number of intent. But should get you started if you want to make your own.

Cloud functions to the rescue!

With the two workspaces created for each language we can now create a cloud function to handle the switching. This post won’t go into details on creating a cloud function. I recommend the built in tutorials.

First in the welcome node we will add the following fields.

Field Name Value Details
$host “” Set to where you created your cloud function
$action “workspaceLanguageSwitch” This is the name of the action we will create.
$language “es” The language of the other skill.
$credentials {“user”:”USERNAME”,”password”:”PASSWORD”} The cloud function username + password.
$namespace “ORG_SPACE/actions” The name of your ORG and SPACE.
$workspace_id “…” The workspace ID of the other skill.

Next we create a node directly after the welcome one with a conditional of “!$language_call” (more on that later). We also add action code as follows.

The action code allows us to call to the cloud function that we will create.

The child nodes of this node will either skip if no message comes back, or display the results of the cloud function.

On to the cloud function. We give it the name “workspaceLanguageSwitch”.

This cloud function does the following.

  • Checks that a question was sent in. If not it sends a “” message back.
  • Checks that the language of the question is set to what was requested. For example: In the English skill we check for Spanish (es).
  • If the language is matched, then it sends the question as-is to the other workspace specified. It also sets “$language_call” to true to prevent a loop.
  • Returns the result with confidence and intent.

Once this is created, we can test in the “Try it out” screen for both Spanish and English.

Here is all the sample code to try and recreate yourself.

It’s not all a bed of roses.

This is just a demo. There are a number of issues you need to be aware of you take this route.

  • The demo does a one time shot. So it will only work with Q&A responses. If you plan to use slots or process flows, then you need to add logic to store and maintain the context.
  • Your “Try it out” is free to use. Now that you have a cloud function it will cost money to run tests (all be it very cheap).
  • There is no fault control in the cloud function. So all that would need to be added.
  • Cloud functions must complete execution within 5 seconds. So if your other skill calls out to integration, it can potentially break the call.

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