As we understood, Voiceflow’s UI is great and super intuitive. The first few seconds of the following video provide a nice overview of Voiceflow’s UI.
However, it’s also an early stage startup with many missing features and an unstable direction. In particular, they supported no data export whatsoever, except for printing the conversation diagram as an image:
That didn’t seem viable. Do you want to develop an image processing algorithm to identify squares and text? What about reading SVG vectors that represent arrows?
We hoped to team up with Voiceflow and develop some sort of an API or export feature that would allow us to continue. We contacted them on multiple occasions. Our client contacted them under the name of NHS. They were outright unwilling to collaborate or even get on a call with us. They also did not provide any details on whether they are planning any sort of APIs or data export features in the future.
Without a viable alternative, we went looking for Voiceflow substitutes.
When looking for alternatives to Voiceflow, there are four main features that are needed to figure out if the new platform is a suitable replacement.
1. Simple GUI - Clinicians lack free time, so creating these chatbots should take a minimal amount of time from their day. Therefore an easy-to-use GUI is required to enable clinicians to build chatbots swiftly and not require previous coding experience.
2. API Access - We require the platform to grant API access to developers.
3. Smartspeaker Integration - The current chatbots the NHS have are deployable to Amazon Alexa as well as Google Home and we do not want to lose this functionality.
4. Structured Conversation - The chatbots that clinicians will create are not in a linear fashion, as they include conversational branching; where an answer from one question can lead to two different questions.
What is Botmake?
Botmake.io is a chatbot creation tool for business or entertainment purposes. Users can add a chatbot to their websites and improve the experience of their visitors.
- Botmake.io has an API allowing easy interfacing as well as integration with other platforms.
- It is not targeted at structured conversations, rather one-off questions and answers.
- Currently there is no way to integrate with smart speakers, only other platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter and Messenger.
- The GUI is not simple to the point that someone can easily build bots using it.
What is VUIX?
VUIX puts the power of voice-first tech in the hands of everyone, empowering people of all skill levels to design dynamic VUIs, easily and cost-effectively. The easy-to-use visual interface enable prototype voice apps that talk on Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant devices. No need to code or deploy anything. This is done with their Voice User Interface.
- VUIX is great since you don’t need any programming experience to use it. You can use a simple drag and drop blocks.
- The platform allows you to deploy bots on Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
- Structured Conversations are supported.
- There is no API, hence no easy way to get the conversation flow out of VUIX.
Microsoft’s Bot Composer
What is Bot Composer?
Bot Framework Composer is an open-source visual authoring canvas for developers and multidisciplinary teams to build bots. Composer integrates language understanding services such as LUIS and QnA Maker and allows sophisticated composition of bot replies using Language Generation. Composer is available as a desktop application as well as a web-based component.
- It does have API access allowing you to send HTTP requests to bots to retrieve information.
- Supports structured conversations.
- Microsoft Bot Composer has a GUI but it doesn’t do abstracting as well as Voiceflow.
- Currently no way to deploy onto smart speaker platforms.
What is chatbotcreator?
Chatbot Creator is a platform for creating Messenger chatbots. The SaaS model enables you to build chatbots conveniently. Without hardware installation. Without coding skills.
- Chatbotcreator allows you to create from templates or build your own bot with a simple drag and drop GUI.
- Supports structured conversations.
- Provides great user analytics such as how many people are interacting with the bot as well as common responses, which will be useful for refining the system in the future, but it has no API access.
- Doesn’t support smart speaker platforms.
What is Jovo?
Jovo. Build and run voice experiences that work across devices and platforms. Including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, mobile phones, Raspberry Pi, and more.
- Has a great developer API which makes it easy to create conversations, interpret them and read data from them.
- You are able to deploy to Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
- Supports structured conversation.
- Jovo completely lacks any form of a GUI to interact with the chatbots. Requires heavy coding experience which isn’t ideal considering our target audience.
What is botsociety?
Most design tools are built for visual design. Botsociety, instead, is dedicated to voice and chat experiences.
- Botsociety has a great GUI which makes it easy to design conversations.
- It has a developer API and CLI allowing for extraction of data from each conversation.
- The site is strictly restricted to design and doesn’t have any capabilities so it wouldn’t support conversational branching.
- No support on uploading to Amazon or Google smart speakers.
There are some viable alternatives here, particularly Jovo or VUIX. However, none of them are as intuitive to use as Voiceflow. Thankfully, we eventually didn’t have to choose an alternative platform as by that time, we also had our own breakthrough in reverse engineering Voiceflow which you can read about here.
 M. Ammendolia, “Canvas Markup & Export: a big win for team workflows | Voiceflow”, Voiceflow.com, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.voiceflow.com/blog/canvas-markup-png-pdf-export-headline-latest-feature-set. [Accessed: 21- Mar- 2021].
 C. Dardi, “What is a Voice User Interface? Why is important? - VUIX Blog”, VUIX Blog, 2018. [Online]. Available: https://vuix.io/blog/what-is-a-voice-user-interface-why-is-important/. [Accessed: 21- Mar- 2021].
 Y. Liu and K. Iqbal, “Send an HTTP request - Bot Composer”, Docs.microsoft.com, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/composer/how-to-send-http-request. [Accessed: 21- Mar- 2021].
 “Chatbot Creator”, Chatbot Creator. [Online]. Available: https://chatbotcreator.online/#analitics. [Accessed: 21- Mar- 2021].
 “Jovo CLI | Jovo Marketplace”, Jovo. [Online]. Available: https://www.jovo.tech/marketplace/jovo-cli. [Accessed: 21- Mar- 2021].
 “Using the API · Documentation”, Botsociety.io. [Online]. Available: https://botsociety.io/documentation/api/. [Accessed: 21- Mar- 2021].