Chat Bot Concepts

This section explains what chat bots are and how they work in Hangouts Chat generally.

What is a chat bot?

A chat bot is a piece of software that conducts a conversation with users. Chat bots simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner, and can be used to provide customer service or deliver other informational services.

Chat bots in Hangouts Chat can be configured as participants in a chat room, or as entities that respond to direct messages.

Bots in direct messages (DM)

You can configure a bot so that it responds to direct messages. This provides a one-to-one conversational interface that involves a single user.

Bots in chat rooms

You can add a bot to a chat room, so that it can respond to specific content that appears in the room. For example, you can specify that any message that begins with "@foobot" is passed to some foobot app and the response appears in the chat room. The following sequence diagram summarizes the bot behavior:

Sequence diagram of chat bot in chat room

Hangouts Chat communicates with your bot via an endpoint, which may be one of the following types:

  • HTTP (web service) endpoints can accommodate various styles of interaction.
  • Cloud Pub/Sub endpoints let your bot subscribe to a topic that relays messages from Hangouts Chat, even if the implementation is behind a firewall.

See the Endpoint types section for more about the different ways you can connect Hangouts Chat with your bot.

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