Cleverscript: good if want a bot to chat to

Chatbot scripting
Web, mobile
API Design:
Value for money:

Last updated on April 13, 2018.

Cleverscript is the technology behind Cleverbot, whose predecessor Jaberwacky won the Loebner prize in 1996. This is a competition which awards a prize for creating chatbots that are judged by humans to be the most human-like. It thus has a long history, harking back to the days when chatbots were for fun and experimentation rather than profit.

This shows in the way Cleverscript works. It is a powerful tool if you want to build a bot which provides information or entertainment. However it requires careful engineering: there is no real semantic parsing like other tools have: natural language expressions have to be parsed manually.

Cleverbot seems to eschew standard conventions. Parsing is done using Cleverscript “phrases” that are basically a new syntax for regular expressions. The script itself is written using a tab-delimited file of columns. Each row can specify a phrase that can be recognised or output to the user, together with a variety of different actions that can be taken on receiving that input, such as setting variable values.

Using this format, it is possible to script conversations much faster than if you were writing them in a standard scripting language such as Python. The downside is, you are tied to using Cleverscript’s proprietary software to run your bot.

Cleverscript is unfortunately a long way behind the competition in terms of building useful bots. Because there is no enforced separation between converting natural language expressions to intents (semantic parsing), there is also no interface to easily add new phrases that are encountered in use - these have to be encoded manually by the chatbot creator.

It also does not provide a straightforward way to make use of your bot in a production setting: you can either make use of their JSON API, use a provided Javascript library or purchase the software to run on your own servers.

Cleverscipt costs $10 a month for up to 10,000 calls to the JSON API. A license to run the software on your own servers is available for a one-off fee of $5000.

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