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Managing Dialogflow Agents with Terraform

Overview

Dialogflow is a powerful tool in Google Cloud that you can use to design conversational agents powered by Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to transform user requests into actionable data. You can integrate voice and/or chat agents in your app, website, or customer support systems to determine user intent and interact with users.

If you've ever wanted to get started with Dialogflow, you might have seen or ran through the quickstart steps to build a shirt ordering agent that you can chat with to ask for the store location, get store hours, or make a shirt order.

Dialogflow CX Shirt Ordering Agent

In going through the quickstart steps, I wanted to find a way to codify all of the Dialogflow components and settings to quickly spin up agents and change their configuration. Terraform to the rescue!

Terraform Graph of Dialogflow CX Agent

I used the Terraform modules for Dialogflow CX and wrote up some Terraform + Dialogflow scripts to reproduce the chatbot/agent described in the "build a shirt ordering agent" quickstart. Try them out and spin up a Dialogflow CX agent with a single command in your own Google Cloud account!

Try out the Terraform + Dialogflow scripts

Video

Setup

There are a few things that you'll need to set up before you run these Terraform scripts.

  1. Register for a Google Cloud account.
  2. Enable the Dialogflow API.
  3. Install and initialize the Google Cloud gcloud CLI tool.
  4. Finally, install Terraform. If you're using macOS, I recommend installing Terraform with Homebrew. Or, even better, install tfenv using brew install tfenv, then run tfenv install so you can easily switch between versions of Terraform!

Usage

Once you've completed the setup on your local machine, you're ready to spin up your own fully-configured Dialogflow agent in seconds:

  1. Clone this repository and cd into the terraform/ directory
  2. Edit the values in variables.tf to specify your Google Cloud project ID along with your desired region and zone.
  3. Run terraform init
  4. Run terraform apply, the command that spins everything up!

Once you run terraform apply and confirm the proposed plan, you'll see messages about all of the components that were provisioned:

google_dialogflow_cx_agent.agent: Creating...
google_dialogflow_cx_agent.agent: Creation complete after 2s
google_dialogflow_cx_entity_type.size: Creating...
google_dialogflow_cx_page.store_location: Creating...
google_dialogflow_cx_intent.store_hours: Creating...
google_dialogflow_cx_page.store_hours: Creating...
google_dialogflow_cx_page.order_confirmation: Creating...
google_dialogflow_cx_intent.store_location: Creating...
google_dialogflow_cx_intent.store_hours: Creation complete after 1s
google_dialogflow_cx_page.store_location: Creation complete after 1s
google_dialogflow_cx_page.order_confirmation: Creation complete after 1s
google_dialogflow_cx_page.store_hours: Creation complete after 1s
google_dialogflow_cx_intent.store_location: Creation complete after 1s
google_dialogflow_cx_entity_type.size: Creation complete after 1s
google_dialogflow_cx_page.new_order: Creating...
google_dialogflow_cx_intent.order_new: Creating...
google_dialogflow_cx_intent.order_new: Creation complete after 0s
google_dialogflow_cx_page.new_order: Creation complete after 0s

Now you're ready to view and test your agent in the Dialogflow Console!

Dialogflow CX Shirt Ordering Agent

How it works

We're using modules for Dialogflow from the Terraform registry to define a conversational agent. We've reproduced the agent described in the build a shirt ordering agent quickstart.

All of the agent's associated entity types, flows, intents, and pages are created and managed with Terraform, so you can edit your Terraform scripts to change certain parameters, run terraform apply, and see your changes instantly reflected in the Dialogflow UI.

You might notice that the terraform/flows.tf file actually uses a local-exec command to make a REST API call instead of using Terraform to define the flow. This approach was used since Dialogflow creates a default start flow when the agent is created, and Terraform isn't explicitly aware of the default start flow. Therefore, we use a REST API call to PATCH the default start flow and then modify its messages and routes. As a result, we can still use Terraform to templatize and trigger the REST API command, but the specific transition routes within the flow are not known or managed directly by Terraform.

Summary

It's nice to be able to manage conversational agents as code using Terraform in Google Cloud. We get all of the benefits of Dialogflow with the convenience of Terraform to manage everything in a stateful and version-control friendly way.

Take a look at the Terraform + Dialogflow scripts along with the Terraform modules for Dialogflow CX so you can spin up your own Dialogflow CX agents with a single command.

Try out the Terraform + Dialogflow scripts

Coming soon, I'll share some best practices for working with Terraform and other tools to represent "conversational agents as code", and I'll use these Terraform scripts to build more solutions with agents and other Google Cloud tools.

Happy Terraforming!