In an earlier blog on on learning about Watson (see Learning About Watson – Getting Started) I mentioned using the Watson Application Starter Kits (ASKs).  As I talk to and work with more developers who are looking to become familiar with the Watson cognitive services, I find that many of them seem to really like these.  So what is an ASK?

An ASK is a shared set of code and other assets that developers can use as a starting point for doing development of cognitive applications that use the Watson services.  It also provides a sample application so you can see what an end user will see.  What developers REALLY like about these ASKs is that they include real working code – and provide a starting point for some of the more common use cases being implemented with Watson (like the Answer Retrieval ASK).  You can simply fork (or download) the GitHub project containing the ASK code, and see all of the code needed for a working cognitive application. I know that a lot of bootcamp teams will use ASKs as a quick way to put together the basic infrastructure for their cognitive use cases – it gives them a starting point that executes and works.  They can then modify the UI and the business logic to fit their own needs.

This week our development team (led by Lakshmi Krishnamurthy) is releasing a new ASK.  This ASK is implemented in Node,js, and it uses the Watson Conversation service to create a Text Message Chatbot. It’s pretty simple, and you can see a quick demo of the text message chatbot online.  This can serve as a great starting point for your own work in creating a chatbot that serves a need that you have.