Home » How I built an Ms Lync ‘Bot’ formally known as D.A.V.E.

Lync_LogoMicrosoft Lync is Microsoft’s latest offering of a unified communications system. Sporting features you’d expect to find in a SIP/Unified Comms client, Lync is a pretty powerful piece of kit.

What’s more, Microsoft offer an SDK to enable easy development of tools and add-ons using Lync technologies. Most of the tutorials and blog posts seem to focus on either C# or Silverlight, which is fine – however, as I am primarily a VB.Net developer I decided to publish my own guide on how to intercept and respond to received Lync messages.

Firstly, I need to point out that I have only had access to Lync for a couple of months now and only downloaded the SDK earlier this month.. So although the code below is functional, I am constantly learning and may find a better way of doing things as my learning continues. To make things easier, make sure you subscribe to the post and you’ll get an update each time I adjust the code.

You will need to download and install the Microsoft Lync SDK then fire up your copy of Visual Studio, create a new windows form project. Obviously you could use any type of project here, however I have plans for a GUI in the future so I am using a windows form project.

Now, open the code view of your new form and import the following:

Imports Microsoft.Lync.Model
Imports Microsoft.Lync.Model.Conversation

Now, under your “Public Class Form1″ but before your “Private Sub Form1_Load()” enter the following lines of code:

Public WithEvents _Client As LyncClient
Public WithEvents _ConversationMgr As Microsoft.Lync.Model.Conversation.ConversationManager
Private WithEvents _LocalIMModality As InstantMessageModality
Public _LycConversation As Microsoft.Lync.Model.Conversation.Conversation

That’s all there is to it for the declarations, as you can see I have used ‘WithEvents’ to expose the ‘methods’ in the GUI and make things a little easier developing with them.

Next in the “Form_Load()” event, paste in the following code:

Private Sub Form1_Load(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles MyBase.Load
        Try
            _Client = LyncClient.GetClient()
            _ConversationMgr = _Client.ConversationManager
            Select Case _Client.State
                Case ClientState.Uninitialized
                    _Client.BeginInitialize(AddressOf InitializeCallback, Nothing)
                Case ClientState.SignedIn

                Case ClientState.SignedOut
                    _Client.EndSignIn(_Client.BeginSignIn(Nothing, Nothing, Nothing, Nothing, Nothing))
            End Select
        Catch ex As AlreadyInitializedException
            MessageBox.Show("Another process has initialized Lync")
        Catch ex As Exception

        End Try

    End Sub

    Private Sub InitializeCallback(ByVal ar As IAsyncResult)
        _Client.EndInitialize(ar)
        _InitializeFlag = True
        _Client.EndSignIn(_Client.BeginSignIn(Nothing, Nothing, Nothing, Nothing, Nothing))
    End Sub

This essentially ties your code to the Lync client running on your machine, then using ‘automation’ it confirms the client is signed in, if not it signs in for you.

Now, your app is hooked into the Lync client, you will need to ‘capture’ the message received event and handle it appropriately.

Private Sub _ConversationMgr_ConversationAdded(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As Microsoft.Lync.Model.Conversation.ConversationManagerEventArgs) Handles _ConversationMgr.ConversationAdded
_LocalIMModality = TryCast(e.conversation.Participants(1).Modalities(ModalityTypes.InstantMessage), InstantMessageModality)

    End Sub

    Private Sub _LocalIMModality_InstantMessageReceived(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As Microsoft.Lync.Model.Conversation.MessageSentEventArgs) Handles _LocalIMModality.InstantMessageReceived
Dim strRec As String
     strRec = e.Text.Replace(vbCr, "").Replace(vbLf, "").Replace("'", "''")
End Sub

As you can see from the post above, I am using the built in replace functionality of the string. This is because the Lync client passes line feeds after its message, which makes handling the received message quite complicated.

So, from the code above – each time an instant message is received by your Lync client the variable strRec will contain the received message.

Now, upon receipt of a message you may want to send a response – which is where my next code snippet comes in. The following Sub send’s an instant message to the participants of the conversation:

Public Sub SendIM(ByVal strMessage As String)
        Dim modal = DirectCast(LycConversation.Modalities(Lyc.ModalityTypes.InstantMessage), InstantMessageModality)
        modal.BeginSendMessage(strMessage, AddressOf SendMessageCallback, Nothing)
    End Sub

    Private Sub SendMessageCallback(ByVal r As IAsyncResult)

    End Sub

From the code above, you should see the sub requires a string to be passed to it. This is what will be relayed to the client who sent the original message.

So there you have it, a fairly simple way of receiving and sending back a Lync ‘IM’.

Obviously, you may want to improve this slightly by trimming the received message and handling it depending on the users request. So, for example – you may want to ‘serve’ a simple weather forecast based on the users request. To do this all you need to do is enhance the ‘_LocalIMModality_InstantMessageReceived’ sub to include code something like this:

If InStr(strRec.ToUpper, "Weather", CompareMethod.Text) Then
            GetWeatherReport(Mid(strRec.ToUpper, 9).ToString)
            Exit Sub
        End If

Now, create another sub which makes use of Yahoo’s weather forecasting, to reply to the Lync user with details of the local forecast:

Sub GetWeatherReport(ByVal locationId As String)
        On Error GoTo ErrHand
1:      Dim YahooCode As Integer
2:      Select Case locationId
            Case "ABERDEEN"
3:              YahooCode = 10243
4:          Case "LINLITHGOW"
5:              YahooCode = 26318
6:          Case "GLASGOW"
7:              YahooCode = 21125
8:          Case "IRVINE"
9:              YahooCode = 24544
10:         Case "BELLSHILL"
11:             YahooCode = 12318
12:         Case "CARLISLE"
13:             YahooCode = 15178
14:         Case "BLAYDON"
15:             YahooCode = 13018
16:         Case "HULL"
17:             YahooCode = 25211
18:         Case Else
19:             SendIM("Im not able to find the weather for the town you specified (" & locationId & ")")
20:             Exit Sub
21:             End Select

22:     Dim doc As New XPathDocument("http://weather.yahooapis.com/forecastrss?w=" & YahooCode & "&u=c")
23:     Dim nav As XPathNavigator = doc.CreateNavigator()

24:     Dim ns As New XmlNamespaceManager(nav.NameTable)
25:     ns.AddNamespace("yweather", "http://xml.weather.yahoo.com/ns/rss/1.0")
26:     Dim nodes As XPathNodeIterator = nav.[Select]("/rss/channel/item/yweather:condition", ns)

27:     While (nodes.MoveNext())
28:         Dim node As XPathNavigator = nodes.Current

29:         SendIM("The weather forecast for " & locationId & " is: " & node.GetAttribute("text", ns.DefaultNamespace).ToString() & ", with a temperature of " & node.GetAttribute("temp", ns.DefaultNamespace).ToString() & "°C")
30:     End While
        Exit Sub
ErrHand:
        SendIM("I can't seem to fetch the weather forecast right now " & Err.Description & " - " & Err.Number & " - " & Erl())
    End Sub

As you can see from the code above, I have also built in the functionality for the Lync user to request weather for a couple of locations around the UK. This could be increased to as many as you want, or removed to only send details of one particular place.

Some other things you might want to consider would be for your ‘Bot’ to query a SQL table and pass back the results, or perhaps perform other functionality such as PING a device and send the reply details in an IM.

In a future blog post I will show you how to connect your new ‘BOT’ into a AI handler to provide an AI Bot capable of holding a ‘conversation’ of sorts.

As per my opening paragraph, I am very much in the early days of my Lync development – so if you have any suggestions on how I could improve the code above, please get in touch.

Home » How I built an Ms Lync ‘Bot’ formally known as D.A.V.E.


  • Phabrikam

    am not much of a dev, but how much of a challenge would it be to output data from a MS CRM to a lync powershell/.net bot? like when an update to an email is received for example to output to the lync persistent chat?

    • http://www.mikesel.info/ Mike Hudson

      Hi, thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Yes, that would be possible… DAVE has now grown into something very similar, and now monitors many of our systems in our office. I actually send IM’s based on network monitors and even CCTV systems.

      I dont have much exsposure to MS CRM, however if it has data stored in tables that the bot can monitor, or it can perform actions on data input then it would be fairly easy to implement.

      Hope that helps!

      Thanks
      Mike

      • Phabrikam

        that’s awesome. is there a code update? if some of it is proprietary that could be stripped out respectively. I was looking to get something going this year as I dig further into powershell. since lync has its own mgmt shell cmdlets if maybe it could be done via powershell. Jaykul has a irc powershell bot looking to do something similar with lync. this is a great start

        • http://www.mikesel.info/ Mike Hudson

          Hi

          Yes, I’ve not yet written a post on it, but watch this space for how to call PowerShell commands via a Lync bot.

  • Michael Diarmid

    Just did a similar bot to this as an example but in Powershell, http://poshcode.org/5222 :)

  • http://www.myoldhouse.com David Raasch

    Wow… hmmm…. you say this hooks into your existing Lync client software, eh? That’s terrific. I’d been wondering if there was some way I could create a Lync bot WITHOUT my having access to our corporate Lync servers. I’m sure the red-tape required to do that would be huge. And I’d just like to set up something where my server would push notifications to our workgroup. (Unfortunately, we’re all on older versions of IE, otherwise I’d probably be using Websockets or EventSource.)

    Currently, the old system I have in place is everybody’s running (Vista) Desktop Gadgets that poll a MySQL server and then send messages to the System Tray via a little executable. It works, but I’d really like to get rid of having a separate app (and versioning issues).

    • http://www.myoldhouse.com David Raasch

      Hope this works with the Lync 2010 SDK.

      • http://www.mikesel.info/ Mike Hudson

        Hi David

        You can code the API to use a Lync client that’s suppressed so doesn’t actually show on the desktop of the machine running the bot.

        I’m not sure there’s anything you can do without access to a Lync server. You’d be best off making some sort of server/client app. There’s dozens of tutorials on the net for these. If you get stuck, let me know, I built one recently to deploy software.

        Cheers
        Mike

        • http://www.myoldhouse.com David Raasch

          Ah, so following this tutorial DOES require access to the Lync server itself, eh? I didn’t realize that. Thanks!

          • http://www.mikesel.info/ Mike Hudson

            The tutorial uses the client on the PC to communicate with the Lync server. So if the client can connect the code will connect.

            Hope that makes sense :-)

          • http://www.myoldhouse.com David Raasch

            Well, that’s what I originally thought, then. I’ve got the Lync client installed on my laptop. (All employees do.) I just thought I’d need to have direct access to the Lync servers themselves (where I could do such things as, modify their configuration, restart services, or whatever) in order to build any sort of bot for our workgroup. And your tutorial seems to provide me a solution for that.

            I was just thrown off a bit when you said “I’m not sure there’s anything you can do without access to the Lync server”. Got confused about what you meant by that.

            Thank you!

          • http://www.mikesel.info/ Mike Hudson

            Ahh ok. Sorry I thought you meant you was trying to develop a solution that didn’t require a Lync server :-)

            The only thing you may get stuck with is you may need to create an account for the bot to login to. Otherwise he’ll be running as your account, and answering your IMs.

          • http://www.myoldhouse.com David Raasch

            OK, sounds good, thank you very much!

  • http://www.mikesel.info/ Mike Hudson

    Hi Garry, sounds like you have a reference missing from the project.. Can you list which you have added, and I will tell you which one is missing.

    Cheers


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