March 2021 Feature Update
New Channel Specific Messaging Tools
Today we released a suite of new features focused on making it much easier to take advantage of some of the powerful unique features of the messaging channels you are using. Flow XO was designed from the beginning to be an "omnichannel" tool, and part of that vision is to make it simple to design your bots once and deliver them across a variety of different messaging channels without having to design individual flows for each channel.
To make that possible requires that we include only features in our core bot builder that can be made to work reasonably well across all platforms. For those of you who were using only one channel, or who were willing to write custom flows or at least custom parts of flows specific to a certain channel, we provide a Custom Request action that lets you send, effectively, raw code to the APIs of the various channels.
This works, but it is not very user friendly. It requires you to have an intimate understanding of the low level aspects of the different channels APIs and write raw JSON code that is easy to get wrong and cause errors in your flows.
To solve this, we are excited to announce three new integrations to Flow XO:
- Telegram Actions
Messaging: Send Message, Send Photo, Send Sticker, Send Audio, Send Document, Send Video, Send Animation, Send Voice, Send Video Note, Send Location, Send Venue, Send Contact, Send Poll, Send Dice
Editing Messages: Edit Message Text, Edit Message Caption, Edit Message Media, Edit Message Keyboard, Edit Message Live Location, Stop Message Live Location, Delete Message, Stop Poll
Payments: Send Invoice, Answer Shipping Query
Misc: Get Chat Info, Answer Inline Query, Pin Chat Message, Unpin Chat Message, Unpin All Chat Messages
- Messenger Actions
Messaging: Send a Message, Send an Attachment, Send Button Template, Send Generic Template, Send Media Template
One Time Notifications: Send One Time Notification Request
Handover Protocol: Send to Inbox, Give Thread Control, Take Thread Control, Get Thread Owner
- Web Actions
Please take some time to explore these new integrations as there will be something for everybody and open up a lot of new flexibility and possibilities for those of you who willing to trade cross-platform compatibility for your flows for a more complete bot authorizing experience.
Accepting File Attachments in a Single Flow
Prior to this latest release if you wanted to request file attachments from your users you had to split your flows into two pieces, the conversation up until you requested the file, and everything afterwards. This is because the only way to receive information about uploaded files was a New File Trigger. As of today, File Attachments will now also cause a normal message to be sent with all of the information about the file sent as metadata. This means that you can use a 'Wait for a Response' in any flow to process new files inline without having to resort to using a trigger. Please read about this change in more detail here: https://support.flowxo.com/article/262-receiving-attachments
More Attachment Types
As part of our effort to provide better access to channel specific features, we have expanded the attachment types we can receive from Telegram. In addition to the file and location types, Flow XO will now accept and allow you to process contacts, payment confirmations non-anonymous poll responses and inline queries. The payment messages are particularly significant because when combined with the new Send Invoice method exposed in our Telegram Actions integration these new messages will allow you to fully implement Telegram Payments including shipping queries if needed. In addition to being a good, in-Telegram buying experience for your users, this also opens up a much broader list of payment processors and enables accepting payments in more global regions than is possible through Stripe alone.
Flow XO is now compatible with Twilio for WhatsApp
Although Flow XO has long been able to integrate with Twilio for SMS messaging, if you tried to host your bot on a WhatsApp number the bot wouldn't function. This limitation has been removed so you can now host your Flow XO bots on WhatsApp simply by selecting a WhatsApp enabled phone number when configuring your Twilio integration. The Twilio WhatsApp support is good, but it isn't complete - there are some things you can't do on Twilio, such as send Template messages with interactive elements. Please see below for information on our integration with WATI to provide you with access to the full WhatsApp business API. This feature is in private beta.
Working with Commands
A common convention in messaging platforms is to consider messages starting with a "/" as a command rather than a normal message. Telegram has additional support for commands including autocomplete. In Flow XO commands were treated like ordinary messages which means that you could work with them reasonably well in most cases, but with some challenges:
- You could not create a trigger for a command that accepted parameters. For example, to take one of the most common examples, the deep linking command /start will usually have an important piece of information included in it such as a reference code or user ID that helps your flow know how to handle the command. But the command /start 23423423 and /start ab2342324 or /start funnel:234,user:456 are all very different messages to Flow XO - there is no good way to have a New Message Trigger understand each of those messages should be processed by a single flow that handles /start
- To use any parameter passed into a command you would have to perform annoying text manipulations to separate the command name from the command parameter
- Commands had to be fuzzy matched like normal messages, meaning if you wanted to strictly handle a command with a flow but not any other type of message, you had to design your flows with overly complicated filters.
To solve these issues, we now split out the name and arguments and an optional user handle reference into metadata that can be used in your trigger filters. So you can write a single handler flow for a command and easily get access to the argument and be sure that the flow only triggers when the specific command is exactly matched. Please read more about this here: https://support.flowxo.com/article/261-working-with-commands
WhatsApp now in private beta
We are partnering with WATI to provide full support for the WhatsApp business API in Flow XO. This integration is currently in closed beta. If you are interested in gaining early access to the WhatsApp business API and would like to be considered for the private beta, please send us an email at email@example.com
Edit the name of an action in the main editor screen
Previously the name of an action and its settings were managed separately. This could get extremely tedious when building larger flows because it required you to first create, then re-name each of your actions. The name field is now embedded in the task editors themselves to make this extra step un-necessary:
Other Betas and Previews for Technical Users
We have a couple of other features that are currently in closed beta or preview phase.
- Telegram Inline Query Support
This feature allows technically proficient users of Flow XO to support inline queries in Telegram. This feature is only for developers or customers with access to a developer because it requires a simple custom service to be developed to answer the inline queries. Please reach out to support if this is something you might be interested in testing with us.
- Message Webhooks
This feature allows you to transmit all messages send and received via Flow XO to an HTTPS endpoint of your choosing. This can be used for message logging, auditing, or any other purpose. If you are interested in testing this feature, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can discuss your use case and consider you for the beta
- Custom HTTP Bot Integration
This feature allows you to extend Flow XO to any messaging channel by providing an HTTP endpoint that can receive and respond to messages. This could be used to add bot support to your custom messaging system or to host Flow XO bots in environments we don't currently support by building your own adapter. This feature is in private preview. Please let us know if you are interested in participating.
- Left hand navigation can be pinned open or stay collapsed, as you prefer
- Configuration options were made available when embedding the chat widget on a webpage to allow you to customize how frequently the attention grabbing greeting text is shown to users. The default is to show the greeting message once every 30 days, but this can now be customized. If you want to show the greeting text ever visit you can set the delay to 0. See: https://support.flowxo.com/article/161-creating-a-web-messenger#widget-popup
- Added the ability to disable the reset button in the chat widget