30 Apr 2017

Introducing BRAINS - the 15below Chatbot

You won’t travel far in today’s social messaging platforms before encountering a chatbot. They’ve become well-established entities in the digital world.

The likes of Qantas, Avianca and Lufthansa have all launched ‘concierge-style’ bots in the last six months, each with a single goal - to create a more efficient way for travellers to book and manage journeys. Most chatbots follow a similar idea. They’re designed to make processes easier and more efficient for the end-user.

It’s something we’re well versed in here at 15below, and we just couldn’t resist the chance to create and test our own chatbot.

In this interview, our Build & Deployment Manager, Chris Blyth, introduces BRAINS – our new internal chatbot who will be helping the development teams manage and report on project deployments within the business.

Where did the idea for BRAINS, the chatbot, come from and how was it created?

“The idea for BRAINS initially came from reading about Hubot - a bot created many years ago by GitHub as an open source framework for others to create their own robot.

The idea was further cemented at IPEXPO 2016. Brent Beer, who works for GitHub, talked about how they use Hubot to create a more efficient DevOps workflow – an idea known as ‘Chat-ops’ – which I thought could help streamline operations here at 15below.

As a proof of concept, I investigated the use of ‘off-the-shelf’ frameworks like Hubot but these didn’t quite fit the requirements we had. This led us to decide to create our own bot framework which we have named BRAINS (Basic Robot Across Internet/Network Systems).”

Can you explain chat-ops in more detail?

“The idea of ‘chat-ops’ is to get the right people into a chat room (like HipChat or Slack) with the use of a robot when specific actions are required, like reviewing pull requests. It’s also about keeping that team aware of application concerns which affect all of them, such as a deployment.

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