In this series we will shed light on the extraordinary community work done by our Rasa Superheroes, taking a deep dive into what inspired them and finding out if they have any tips or advice to share with aspiring community builders.
For our first ever spotlight, we are excited to introduce 23 year old Arthur Temporim, a Software Engineer from Brazil and Rasa Superhero since August 2018.
Arthur’s journey into the chatbot world began in 2014, when he started his undergraduate coursework in Software Engineering at the University of Brasília. There he joined a software engineering lab, and his passion for conversational AI deepened when he began developing “Tais” a chatbot built using Rasa that is still used by a local Brazilian government agency today.
Since then, he has been ever more involved with the Rasa community, sparking local interest in chatbots through events, producing guides, repositories, and webinars in his native language of Portuguese, and actively answering questions in the Rasa Brazil Telegram group. There is not much that Arthur is not involved in, so we decided to ask him more about his experience as a Rasa Superhero…
Arthur, what’s an average day in your life like?
I usually get up, bike to the office and typically spend around 10 hours each weekday working on chatbot projects. Fortunately, we are developing a chatbot using Rasa, which means I have the opportunity to learn a lot about Rasa while at work. When I have free time, I enjoy contributing to other open source projects, being present in the Rasa community and going to the gym.
What inspired you to get into the conversational AI industry?
The fact that we can interact with technology in a way we never could before! In my Software Engineering coursework, I always searched for an area in which I could build something of my own, to evolve the way we live and interact with the world. With simple conversation, I can do a lot of things using a Rasa chatbot and for me this potential is really exciting!
When did you first come into contact with Rasa?
I discovered Rasa through working on the “Tais” project, a chatbot to help in the understanding of a Brazilian Cultural law.
In 2017, The Ministry of Citizenship of Brazil made a partnership with LAPPIS to develop a chatbot. At the beginning, we used another chatbot framework, but it was clear after some development time that we needed a more powerful framework to meet the requirements of the ministry, so after some research we decided to switch to Rasa. Bonus points for being open source and in Python! :D
Could you tell me about other projects you’ve been working on?
Looking forward, we from LAPPIS are developing the Rasa Boilerplate, a repository with many configurations which makes it easier to use Rasa. We can see that this is helping to grow the community interested in developing chatbots because I receive questions about the project on a daily basis.
With the guidance of Carla Rocha Aguiar the Rasa Boilerplate project could be realised. Thanks to Carla I learned a lot of things that I use today with the community, and she is the very reason I decided to work on the boilerplate as part of my undergraduate degree :D
During the development of ‘Tais’ we also needed to be able to connect Rasa with Rocket.Chat, since this was a requirement of the Ministry of Citizenship and thus, the Brazilian Government.
To make this possible, myself and some friends developed the RocketChat Connector, which was merged into the Rasa project on August 29th 2018 and was my first ever contribution!
Looking back, what were the most challenging aspects of your conversational AI projects, and how did you resolve them?
It can be challenging to keep up with the pace in which conversational AI is evolving. At the beginning of the Tais project, we started using HubotNatural, an awesome framework, however, we ran into a lot of difficulties with maintaining the chatbot dialogue, so we decided to use another solution - and this one was Rasa!
We did come up against some upgrading issues at the start of using Rasa while developing Tais, however, they were quickly resolved after the release of Rasa v1.0.
What was the best or most memorable piece of advice you received when starting to build chatbots?
It’s really valuable to have someone focused on improving the dialogue of your chatbot and the quality of the interactions.
After working on our chatbot for some time, it was answering questions correctly but it had no “life” or “personality” and the answers were quite simply, boring. Everything changed when we began to work with someone focused on improving these interactions - her name is Paloma, and it was instantly noticeable how she brought the bot “to life” :D
Our own Head of Developer Relations, Justina, was so thrilled to meet you at the BotsBrazil Conference this year! Do you attend these events often and could you tell us if you plan to organize events in the future?
I’m usually attending events related to conversational AI and chatbots, where I also meet people that use Rasa. Myself and Matheus Matos hope in the future that we can also organize an event between Brasilia and São Paulo.
We heard there is a Telegram Group dedicated to the Rasa community in Brazil, could you tell us a little more about how that started?
The Telegram group was started by Matheus Matos. After a while we from LAPPIS discovered this group, with the help of Justina. We started to direct everyone that wanted to learn more about Rasa to this community. It’s a good place to share some questions in Portuguese and start to learn more about Rasa, Rasa Forum and Rasa Docs.
For our Portuguese speakers, where can they find the Telegram Group?
You can join here, members can add friends too!
What tips would you give to aspiring community builders who would like to do more to support the community in their local area?
It’s useful to be able to answer basic questions or know where to direct people if you’re not sure of the answer.
I receive emails, Telegram messages, Whatsapp messages very often, from people wanting to know more about Rasa and I spend some time answering each one, but if you’re unsure of something you can always direct them to the official Rasa forum, or if they are Portuguese speakers - our Telegram group! :)
Do you have any advice to share with people who build communities and bots in different languages?
While supporting the Portuguese speaking community, I learned that it’s really valuable to provide basic documentation in the local language with reference to the official Rasa Docs (in case people would like to explore with Google translate :D). Translating the basic terminology and best practices can be really helpful for someone just starting out.
We know you are also hosting webinars; could you tell us a little more about how you got started with that and where to find them?
We wanted to provide a source of educational content and documentation for the Brazilian community in Portuguese. It was something we had never done before at LAPPIS, so the quality improved over time, step by step. We are also planning to do more videos about Rasa 1.0 in Portuguese in the near future, so stay tuned!
Check out their webinar series & subscribe.
You really are spending a lot of your free time helping to grow the Rasa community and interest in conversational AI, what motivates you to do this?
There are a few different reasons: I love to help people and it’s really satisfying to know that I supported someone with their work.
As a software engineer, I would spend time working or building something, only for it to be later trashed or abandoned. After this happened a couple of times, I realised it makes more sense to work on projects that last in the long-term, and this is why I decided to work on “Rasa Boilerplate” as part of my undergraduate degree.
Due to the fact that this is also open source, and available to everyone, the project lives on and can still be useful to this day and hopefully for a long time in future. Not only that, it also means that I can easily showcase and share my work with others.
Are you currently working on something new? What's next on the agenda for Arthur?
Yes! I am developing a Rasa chatbot for a Brazilian Bank, and hope to share more information when it is done!
We will certainly be paying attention to Arthur's next moves, we want to thank him for his continued dedication and support of the Portuguese community!