14 July 2022: Get Stacking! Build more complex services.

Pippa Updated by Pippa

With Stacks, powered by Build, you can build more complex chat services with less effort!

Connect your Facebook page or your content spreadsheet, create list messages, setup complex branch logic and much more.

Since we started building automation tools at Turn.io, our objective has always been the same: How might we enable social impact teams to automate repetitive actions at scale so they can spend more of their time on the human-to-human connection that drives lasting positive impact?

We started simple. First came global Automations which we proved were incredibly fast at enormous scale (Traffic after a post from Mark Zuckerberg about WHO WhatsApp service was a great test 😄). Next came Threads for simple linear flows (e.g. short surveys, onboarding, opt in, health screenings). These features are powerful and cover a wide range of simple, effective social impact use cases. But we know that for complex, highly personalised use cases, we needed to design more powerful automation features that are even easier to use for everyone and extensible for our highly technical customers.

We call this new generation of features: Build. We're launching the Alpha version on Monday 18 July so highly technical teams can start to test it out, and we'll be launching a Beta version with a no-code, drag and drop user interface in the coming weeks.

What is Build? What are Stacks?

Build is a set of features that make it easier to build more complex, more personalised automated chat services in Turn.io.

The first Build feature is called Stacks (equivalent to a Flow in other products).

A chat service will typically be created using multiple stacks, each stack providing the user with a different content topic or feature. e.g. Menu Stack, Onboarding Stack, Topic 1 Stack, Topic 2 Stack and Survey Stack.

What can I do with the Alpha version of Build?

Everything you can do today with Automation and Threads combined plus the following:

  1. Connect to live content sources.
    1. Connect to a FB page: Every time you post to Facebook the post is published on your WhatsApp service. (See it in action for State Emergency Services of Ukraine News here)
    2. Connect to an RSS feed: Get real-time updates from an RSS feed into your WhatsApp line. (Watch this demo video with BBC content or Test it here)
    3. Connect to a Google sheet: If you're managing your content and translations in a spreadsheet, connect your Sheet directly and structure your content and automations in your sheet. No more copy/paste
  2. Create new WhatsApp message types.
    1. List messages: Messages including a menu of up to 10 options. This type of message offers a simpler and more consistent way for users to make a selection when interacting with a business.
    2. Dynamic Reply Buttons: Use real-time data on your button text. Great for dynamic content such as available appointment times.
  3. Set the timeout.
    1. Unlike Threads which has a 5 min timeout (after which a user reply exited from the Thread), you can set a custom timeout for Stacks.
  4. Use expressions.
    1. Create messages with variables (e.g. @name, @appointment_time).
    2. Perform calculations (e.g. Create quizzes with scores, solve maths problems).
    3. Find more examples in our docs.
  5. Export chat flows and run them on any compatible flow engine.
    1. Build is compatible with the Flow Interoperability Standards and the Elixir flow runner powering Build will be released as open-source.
  6. Export Stack data.
    1. Like Threads, Stack data is exportable as a CSV.
    2. Stack data also follows the Flow Interoperability Standards and can be exported as a JSON file and used in interoperable analytics tools.

Stacks is how you access and use all of this automagic-ness in Turn.

Sound fun, but a little overwhelming? Get started with our Stacks Playbooks for a Maths Quiz, Facebook Page, RSS feed or Translations. We'll continue to add Playbooks for common use cases so you can learn from examples.

When will it be available?

Stacks, powered by Build, will be made available by mid July so that you can test it out and give us feedback.

What to expect of the July Alpha launch?

The Alpha version of Build requires some technical expertise as you will need to use our domain-specific coding language (DSL) to build your own Stacks. While it is pretty easy to learn, if you'd rather wait for our drag-and-drop user interface it will be launched with Build Beta in the coming weeks.

  1. Documentation so that early adopters can start familiarising themselves with the language and its capabilities. The documentation is live at https://whatsapp.turn.io/docs/ for both Stacks and the API to retrieve the results captured by Stacks (Flow Results API).
  2. Build's Alpha Interface includes a code block to write DSL code and a live simulator that you can use to test your Stack as you create it. The simulator also allows you to test your experience with with different user profiles.

Has Build been tested on real services?

Yes. Build Stacks are live for the following use cases:

  • State Emergency Services of Ukraine: Use the Facebook Page Stack to publish news directly from their Facebook page to their News menu item on WhatsApp.
  • International Fact Checking Network: Use a Stack to manage their entire chatbot functionality which is connected to a live database of fact checks and is in multiple languages.

Next steps?

We’re continuing to finalise designs for the Build 2.0 Beta which will include a no-code interface for those of you who prefer drag and drop over code. We're also making Threads compatible with Build so that there is a seamless transfer from one to the other in future. Exciting things to come! We can't wait to see what you build...

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