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CHAPTER 12 TYING IT TOGETHER: DEVELOPING A LARGER RUBY APPLICATION
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In certain situations it s useful to write an example of the higher-level, moreabstracted code that you expect ultimately to write, and then write the lower-level code to satisfy it. This isn t the same as test-first development, although the principle is similar. You write the easiest, most abstract code first, and then work your way down to the details. Next let s look at how you expect the bot to operate throughout a normal session and then begin to develop the required features one by one.
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The Program s Life Cycle and Parts
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In Figure 12-2 we looked at what happens when a bot is asked to respond to some user input. In Figure 12-3, however, we look at the more overall life cycle of a bot, and the client accessing it, that we ll develop. Your entire application will be composed of four parts: 1. The Bot class, within bot.rb, containing all the bot s logic and any subclasses. 2. The WordPlay library, within wordplay.rb, containing the WordPlay class and extensions to String. 3. Basic client applications that create bots and allows users to interact with them. You ll first create a basic keyboard-entry client, but we ll look at some alternatives later in the chapter. 4. A helper program to generate the bot s data files easily. Figure 12-3 demonstrates the basic life cycle of a sample client application and its associated bot object. The client program creates a bot instance, and then keeps requesting user input passing it to the bot. Responses are printed to the screen, and the loop continues until the user decides to quit.
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CHAPTER 12 TYING IT TOGETHER: DEVELOPING A LARGER RUBY APPLICATION
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Figure 12-3. A basic flowchart showing a sample life cycle of the bot client and bot object
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You ll begin putting together the Bot class and then look at how the bot will find and process its data.
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CHAPTER 12 TYING IT TOGETHER: DEVELOPING A LARGER RUBY APPLICATION
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Bot Data
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One of your first concerns is where the bot will get its data. The bot s data includes information about word substitutions to perform during preprocessing, as well as myriad keywords and phrases that the bot can use in its responses.
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The Data Structure
You ll keep the bot s data in a hash, somewhat like this:
bot_data = { :presubs => [ ["dont", "don't"], ["youre", "you're"], ["love", "like"] ], :responses => { :default => [ "I don't understand.", "What ", "Huh " :greeting :farewell 'hello' => => => ], ["Hi. I'm [name]. Want to chat "], ["Good bye!"], [ "How's it going ", "How do you do " ], [ "Why do you like * ", "Wow! I like * too!" ]
'i like *' =>
The main hash has two parent elements, :presubs and :responses. The :presubs element references an array of arrays that contain substitutions to be made to the user s input before the bot forms a response. In this instance, the bot will expand some contractions, and also change any reference of love to like. The reason for this becomes clear when you look at :responses.
CHAPTER 12 TYING IT TOGETHER: DEVELOPING A LARGER RUBY APPLICATION
Note This data structure is deliberately lightly populated to save space for discussion of the practicalities. By the end of this chapter you ll have a more complete set of data to use with your bot. This style of data structure was also covered in 3.
:responses references another hash: one that has elements with the names :default, :greeting, :farewell, 'hello', and 'i like *'. This hash contains all the different phrases
the bot will use as responses, or templates used to create full phrases. The array assigned to :default contains some phrases to use at random when the bot cannot figure out what to say based on the input. Those associated with :greeting and :farewell contain generic greeting and farewell phrases. More interesting are the arrays associated with 'hello' and 'i like *'. These phrases are used when the input matches the hash key for each array. For example, if a user says hello computer, then a match with 'hello' is made, and a response is chosen from the array at random. If a user says i like computers, then 'i like *' is matched and the asterisk is used to substitute the remainder of the user s input (after i like ) into the bot s output phrase. This could result in output such as Wow! I like computers too, if the second phrase were to be used.
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