Microsoft Lync logo How I built an Ms Lync Bot formally known as D.A.V.E.Microsoft 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("" & YahooCode & "&u=c")  23:     Dim nav As XPathNavigator = doc.CreateNavigator()    24:     Dim ns As New XmlNamespaceManager(nav.NameTable)  25:     ns.AddNamespace("yweather", "")  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.

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  • 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?

    • 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!


      • 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

        • Mike Hudson


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

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