Dialogflow ES Tips

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This is a collection of tips/tutorials/resources for building Dialogflow ES bots, organized by topic.

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What is slot filling?

When I first started consulting in Dialogflow, I noticed a pattern. A lot of clients who came to me had made a complete mess of their chatbots, and all of them were using the slot filling (required parameters) feature. When you use required parameters in Dialogflow, you are telling Dialogflow – “please ensure that this parameter is actually collected from the user”. When you mark a parameter as required, it will trigger slot filling – and Dialogflow will keep prompting the user until they provide the input.
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Why I avoid slot filling

This is a somewhat opinionated view, but it is based on my experience using slot filling as well as helping my clients get unstuck by moving them away from slot filling. In my view, slot filling makes four implicit assumptions: perfect entity recognition complete entity definition perfect spelling full cooperation from user Let me explain these one by one. Perfect entity recognition If you have used Dialogflow for a while, you already know it struggles with non-English names – specifically the @sys.given-name entity.
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Do you actually need slot filling (required parameters) for your bot?

The only thing worse than using slot filling is to use it for a use case where it doesn’t even make sense. Motivation for slot filling The real reason you want to use slot filling is because the user’s question/message is posed in a specific format. First, let us look at an example of a user wanting to book a flight. They might say any of the following: I would like to book a flight I would like to book a flight from Seattle to New York I would like to book a flight for 4 I would like to book a flight leaving from Seattle tomorrow Notice that the intent is specified in bold text, and the entities are specified in italics.
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3 scenarios where you should avoid using slot filling in Dialogflow

The slot filling feature is hands down one of the coolest features in Dialogflow. Not only that, it is often the centerpiece of many demos given by the Dialogflow team. So why am I asking you to avoid slot filling? Because there are three common scenarios which the existing slot filling implementation cannot handle well. Do you need to ask user to confirm their input? As it happens, in real world chatbots, we need to ask the user to reconfirm their input.
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Slot filling vs follow up intents

I got this question from a reader: i didn’t understand difference between slot filling vs follow up intents as slot filling can be achieved by followup as well with extra validations right? We can better understand this by looking at our bigger goal: we wish to collect a mandatory set of inputs from the user (that is, all are required values). The order in which user provides input Slot filling is orderless The first difference between slot filling and follow up intents is that slot filling doesn’t expect the user to go in a certain order.

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