Overcoming namespace clashes when upgrading to Bot Framework 4.3

V4.3 comes with some nice additional support that I was eager to use. However, there is a problem. v4.3 (Microsoft.Bot.Builder.Azure) uses the latest variant of the Azure Storage library whereas Microsoft.AspNetCore.All, via Microsoft.AspNetCore.DataProtection.AzureStorage (2.2.0), uses the older variant. This can cause problems if your own code wishes to use one of the clashing types. E.g. if you add


CloudStorageAccount blah = new CloudStorageAccount(null, false);

Then you’ll get an error like The type X exists in both Y and Z, e.g.


error CS0433: The type 'CloudStorageAccount' exists in both 'Microsoft.Azure.Storage.Common, Version=9.4.2.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35' and 'Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Storage, Version=9.3.2.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35'

The only solution I’ve found is to utilize the obscure extern and some trickery I grabbed from SO – using extern alias.

Step 1 – Create (or ensure there is) an xml file in the root of your project called Directory.Build.targets (don’t put .xml as the extension)

Step 2 – populate with;

  
<Project>
  <Target Name="AddPackageAliases" BeforeTargets="ResolveReferences" Outputs="%(PackageReference.Identity)">
    <PropertyGroup>
      <AliasPackageReference>@(PackageReference->'%(Identity)')</AliasPackageReference>
      <AliasName>@(PackageReference->'%(Alias)')</AliasName>
    </PropertyGroup>

    <ItemGroup>
      <ReferencePath Condition="'%(FileName)'=='$(AliasPackageReference)'">
        <Aliases>$(AliasName)</Aliases>
      </ReferencePath>
    </ItemGroup>
  </Target>
</Project>
  

Step 3 – edit the project. Unload your bot project, edit it and find the reference you wish to alias. Add Alias= E.g. to add the alias AzureCommon

<ItemGroup>
    <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.ApplicationInsights.DependencyCollector" Version="2.9.1" />
    <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.ApplicationInsights.TraceListener" Version="2.9.1" />
    <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.AspNetCore" Version="2.2.0" />
    <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.AspNetCore.All" />
    <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.Azure.KeyVault.Core" Version="3.0.3" />
    <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.Azure.Storage.Common" Version="9.4.2" Alias="AzureCommon"/>

Save and reload the project

Step 4 (optional) -That should be enough to provide the separation for the compiler. But if you want to use the aliased version then add the extern to where you wish to use the clashing type, e.g.;


extern alias AzureCommon;
using AzureStore = AzureCommon;

...

AzureCommon.Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Storage.CloudStorageAccount blah =
new AzureCommon.Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Storage.CloudStorageAccount(null, false);

Step 5 – celebrate you’ve avoided this hiccup 🙂

Advertisements

Using the streamlined On handlers in Bot Framework v4.3

Bot Framework v4.3 has introduced a series of ‘On’ activity handlers to make you code more modular and easier to understand. Once you updated your project reference to use 4.3 you need to change you main bot to use the new activity handler class;

public class MayBotBot : IBot
To
 public class MayBotBot : ActivityHandler

You’ll then be able to use override to discover the options, e.g.


protected virtual Task OnMessageActivityAsync(ITurnContext turnContext, CancellationToken cancellationToken)
{
return Task.CompletedTask;
}

The other nice new feature that might slide under the radar is when the framework looks for a dialog Id it will now search up the stack to look for one. I.e. you could, if you wanted to, AddDialog all your possible dialogs in the root dialog and remove all AddDialog from everywhere else. Don’t do that, but in theory you could. The advantage here is that you can declare your common dialogs once and not have to keep adding them everywhere else.

Enjoy the chocolatey goodness of 4.3.

 

 

Upgrading your bot to .net core 2.2, warnings

When you upgrade your bot from .net core 2.0/2.1 to 2.2 you may see an warning that states; ‘A PackageReference to ‘Microsoft.AspNetCore.All’ specified a Version of 2.2.1. Specifying the version of this package is not recommended’.

To avoid this warning;

  1. Right click the bot project in the solution explorer and ‘unload’ it.
  2. Right click the unloaded project and edit it
  3. Change
    <PackageReference Include=”Microsoft.AspNetCore.All” Version=”2.2.1″/>
    To
    <PackageReference Include=”Microsoft.AspNetCore.All” />
  4. Reload the project.

 

Getting started with LUIS Containers

LUIS Containers is a really interesting (preview) feature. One of the issues with LUIS, and machine learning in general, is that each endpoint learns differently. E.g. if you create two LUIS endpoints, JANET and JOHN, and import the exact same JSON model then Janet and John will likely give you different scores for exactly the same utterance. Whilst that is just something you need to appreciate it, it does make a lot of workflow scenarios very difficult, E.g. testing. One potential solution to this is to export the LUIS model as a Container. In my initial tests this seems to clone the server, i.e. you get JANET2 rather than daughter of JANET – you get the same scores for the same utterance. Here is my add-on help to the documentation.

The main documentation is currently located at Install and run LUIS docker containers. If you don’t want to follow my guide then my advice is to read that but before you do anything read the next document along as that has a better explanation of the settings  Configure Language Understanding Docker containers

My guide to get up an running with LUIS Containers (for Windows 10)

I’m assuming you’ll be using the Command prompt and not a Bash terminal (as used in the official guide).

  1. Install Docker – if you’re new to Docker then I’d recommend at least following the first page of Get Started. Install Docker for Windows 10.
  2. Create a folder on your local disk that will container the LUIS model, e.g. C:\LUIS\Input and a folder for the output, e.g. C:\LUIS\Output
  3. Open the Docker settings panel (from the taskbar tools) and ensure you are sharing the local disk where you created the folders in (2)
  4. Go to LUIS and export the version of the model you want to use. Remember to select export as a Container.
  5. Get the Docker image for LUIS,
    docker pull mcr.microsoft.com/azure-cognitive-services/luis:latest
    
  6. Now create the container, remember this is all one line in CMD, so consider writing a batch file for it.
    docker run --rm -it -p 5000:5000 --memory 4g --cpus 2 --mount type=bind,src=c:\luis\input,target=/input --mount type=bind,src=c:\luis\output,target=/output mcr.microsoft.com/azure-cognitive-services/luis Eula=Accept Billing=https://YOUR_REGION.api.cognitive.microsoft.com/luis/v2.0 ApiKey=YOUR_API_KEY
    

    Where the Billing endpoint can be take from the first part of the Endpoint address in LUIS ‘Keys and Endpoint settings’ and the ApiKey is only the set of digits from the key of the same page. E.g. 3q919c439w2445f217b3w262622331c1

  7. You can then use your REST client of choice. You may use http://localhost:5000/swagger/index.html but be warned you’ll need to convert the AppId to a GUID (online coverter)…I know, right?? You should get an error saying something like; No model found with the given Application ID. If you do, then look at the output from your Docker console window. It should say something like could not find file xyz.gz.
  8. Copy the file you downloaded in (4) and put it into the input folder you created in (2). Carefully examine the name of the file. It needs to perfectly match the name of the file in the error message in (7)
  9. Ctrl+c the Docker container. Re-run the command from (6). Retry your REST call. You should now be working 🙂

NB, when you finish with this and try it again at a later date you may get errors when restarting your container, step (6). It may say something like, Error starting userland proxy. This appears to be a problem with Docker on Windows 10. You need to reopen the Docker desktop from the Taskbar and select Restart. This can take a little time but keep hovering over the icon and it will show you when it’s running again. Then you can re-issue step (6) and everything should be fine again.

One last note is that you need to stay online when using the Container. You can temporarily go offline but any prolonged absence and the LUIS Container will take itself offline with failed to reach metering endpoint,  resource temporarily unavailable. Shame, that scuppers offline use. Oh well, can’t have everything you want 🙂

 

Fetching all the LUIS intents in the Bot Framework

I decided that today was the day that I could no longer write a useful LUIS + Bot by only consuming the top scoring intent. So I checked the little Include all predicted intent scores switch in LUIS and ensured the ‘REST-API’ results had returned all the predictions. Yay. Changed my code to consume them to discover I was still only getting the top intent. Turns out you to do a little more work with the Bot SDKs to see the other intents;

v3 SDK

In your code that implements the LUISDialog base class;

protected override LuisRequest ModifyLuisRequest(LuisRequest request)
{
request.Verbose = true;
return base.ModifyLuisRequest(request);
}

v4 SDK

In the code where you create your LUIS Application and Recognizer, add the IncludeAllIntents options;

var app = new LuisApplication(luis.AppId, luis.AuthoringKey, luis.GetEndpoint());
var recognizer = new LuisRecognizer(

app,

new LuisPredictionOptions { IncludeAllIntents = true });

botframeworkoptions.state is obsolete

An recent update to the Bot Framework means that you may see some obsolete messages when trying to add conversation/user state, etc. to the options object in the setup. Don’t worry, it’s easy enough to alter.

...
// Create and add conversation state.
var conversationState = new ConversationState(dataStore);
// REMOVE THIS -> options.State.Add(conversationState);
services.AddSingleton(conversationState);
...