A sample app for developers demonstrating how to implement a .NET Core based Teams app utilizing Bot Framework v4 (preview).
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README.md

Teams App Sample - .NET Core

Microsoft Teams apps are web apps. The foundation of Teams specific apps is partially based on the building blocks that make up the Microsoft Bot Framework. In addition to that Teams app typically utilize tabs (web content in iframe), connectors to allow rich notifications and more. But that doesn't change the fact that a Teams app is simply a web app.

Microsoft Bot Framework v4 supports .NET Core

The short-lived purpose of this sample is to serve as a quick guide on how to implement a Teams app using Bot Framework v4 - which as of writing this is still in preview - instead of the current v3.x. A reason one might have to target the preview version is the fact that while v3.x is based on .NET Framework 4.x, the new v4 targets .NET Core. Furthermore, the reason one might care is based on the platform their running their software on; .NET Core is multi-platform including Linux support. To learn more, visit docs.microsoft.com.

Author's highly technical illustration of a web app.
Author's highly technical illustration of a web app.

Is there any reason .NET Core/Bot Framework v4 combo wouldn't work as a basis for a Teams app? Not that I can tell - please refer to the technical outline above. As long as the web app looks the same outside providing the appropriate inputs and outputs and knows how to handle the messages the same way, it is reasonable to expect everything to just work. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck... you get the point.

Moreover, this sample includes the notorious somewhat tricky authentication bit in Teams apps. Namely, the sample provides the code required to authenticate using the Microsoft Graph within Teams.

If it's 2019 and you're reading this, then it's fair to assume the information here is no longer of any use as Bot Framework v4 should be the official version (no longer in preview) now. Thanks for visiting anyways.

Contents

So, how do I...

Before getting into the Teams specific stuff, let's first deploy the app (BOT!) and make sure it works. Now, you may ask yourself "how do I work this?" and you may ask yourself "what does the bot have to do with any of this?", but, as mentioned earlier, Teams apps are partially based on the building blocks of the bot framework and this sample comes with a bot. So just go with it, ok? And when we deploy the bot, we are, in fact, deploying the whole Teams app itself.

Note that the steps described here are for Visual Studio. In case you're using some other IDE, most of the content still applies, but you may have to consult a web search engine. The other thing here is that the deployment steps are for Azure. The bot app can be hosted practically anywhere, but then again you must look for the instructions elsewhere. Isn't life full of choices?

If you don't have an Azure subscription yet, do not worry - you can get one for FREE here: Create your Azure free account today. Yeyyaah!

Here goes:

  1. Open the solution (TeamsAppSample.NETCore.sln) in Visual Studio/your IDE and make sure it compiles without any errors (or warnings)
  2. Follow the steps in this article carefully: Deploy your bot to Azure
    • Top tip: Create a new Azure resource group for the app so that if stuff goes wrong, it's really easy to just delete the whole group and start over
    • Having issues testing the bot (as in "The dang thing doesn't work!!") - check the following:
      • Did you remember to include /api/messages in the messaging endpoint (Bot Channels Registration/Settings)?
      • Did you remember to create and add the credentials (MicrosoftAppId and MicrosoftAppPassword)?

By the way: You can define a custom messaging endpoint in the code like this (see Startup.cs):

// app is of type IApplicationBuilder
app.UseBotFramework(bot =>
{
    bot.BasePath = "/api";
    bot.MessagesPath = "/tidings";
});

Finally add the credentials (MicrosoftAppId and MicrosoftAppPassword) to the appsettings.json file and republish the bot - now all you need to do to republish is to right-click the app project in the Solution Explorer in Visual Studio, select Publish... and click the Publish button on the tab (named in the sample "TeamsAppSample.NETCore").

Well, that was quick and easy (I hope). Next, why not download the Bot Framework Emulator and try it out!

Enable and install the app in Teams

First, we want to make sure our bot is enabled in Teams. Go to the Azure portal and to the familiar Bot Channels Registration resource you created previously. Select Channels under BOT MANAGEMENT and click the Teams icon:

Configuring Microsoft Teams channel in Azure portal

Then package and upload the app manifest in Teams. Remember when I said (wrote) that a Teams app is nothing but a web app? Still true. That also means that your app doesn't live inside Teams, but rather extends its tentacles (endpoints) into the abyss of the Teams registry. For the exact details see this article, but here's the quick guide:

  1. Open the manifest.json file in text editor and update the base of the URLs to match the URL of your published bot and add your bot ID (MicrosoftAppId) as the value of botId within bots array
  2. Package the content in the TeamsManifest folder in a .zip file so that all the files are in the root of the package (the name of the package is insignificant in the grand scheme of things)

Next you can choose whether to install the app for the team only or to install for personal use (given that the app provides personal features such as static tabs, which our sample does) and/or for the team.

Option 1. Install for the team only

If you want to test the authentication bit as well, skip right to the option 2.

  1. In Teams, click the three dots next to the team, where you want to install the app, and select Manage team:

    Team settings

  2. Navigate to the Apps tab and locate the Upload a custom app link in the bottom-right corner and click it, CLICK IT!

  3. Browse to the location of your .zip package containing the manifest file and the icons and select Open

    • If there were no errors, you should now see your app in the list - looks something like this:

      Entry in apps list

  4. You can set up the bot by simply calling it in channel conversation, but there is a guided way to do it:

    • Still in the manage apps view in team settings, click the app list item (shown in the image above)

    • Click Available link in the pop-up window

      First pop-up window

    • In the new pop-up window, select the desired channel and click the Set up button

      Second pop-up window

Option 2. Install for personal use/the team

  1. In teams, click the three dots on the left-most pane (typically on purple background under the Files icon) and select More apps

    More apps menu item

  2. Select Upload a custom app in the menu on the left

    Store menu

  3. Browse to the location of your .zip package containing the manifest file and the icons and select Open

  4. Select the desired team to install the app for in the pop-up window and click Install

    Install app pop-up window

  5. Follow the instructions to set up the bot, if you so desire

  6. You can now find the app in the app menu:

    Sample app menu item

  7. Click the app in the menu to view the personal tabs, which in the case of the sample look like this:

    Sample app tabs

Authentication

Microsoft Graph provides an API to authenticate users via Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). This sample contains the necessary bits to execute the authentication process within Teams (the authentication tab shown above). The code for the authentication is shamelessly copied from this Microsoft Teams sample, but modified into Razor pages - webpage building blocks provided by ASP.NET Core.

You can find the authentication specific code in the /TeamsAppSample.NETCore/Pages/Auth folder.

To test the authentication flow do the following:

  1. Register a new application in the Application Registration Portal
    • Follow the instructions under the Register the application header here, but
      • Add redirect URL https://<your Teams app base URL>/Auth/AuthFinishedRedirect and
      • ignore other instructions on the page
  2. Copy the application ID of the app you just registered into the manifest.json file as the value of the AuthClientId property
  3. Republish the app
  4. Try it out!

Now don't feel bad, if the whole authentication process feels weird - it's not that straightforward. I encourage you to check out the blog post, Why is authenticating a bot so hard?, written by Pedro Dias.

Troubleshooting

Or as I like to call it: Things that make you cuss and bang your head on hard solid vertical planes.

Why doesn't my bot talk to me?

Given that you didn't mess with the actual code, there's one thing remember:

  • Endpoint URL
    • Make sure this is set in the settings of the Bot Channels Registration resource in the Azure Portal and that it ends with the appropriate path (/api/messages by default)

...no wait, actually three things - two in addition to the one I just mentioned:

  • MicrosoftAppId
  • MicrosoftAppPassword

Make sure these are set in:

  • the appsettings.json file file
  • the Application Settings of the bot App Service (again in Azure Portal)
  • the Bot Framework Emulator, when using it

No! Wait! One more thing. There are four things to remember. Did you remember to enable the Channels (such as Microsoft Teams, Slack etc.) under BOT MANAGEMENT of the Bot Channels Registration resource in - you guessed it! - Azure Portal? You did? Good.

Let's move o...SH*T! Five things. Five things to remember. If your bot's not co-operative in Teams, then check the value of the botId property in bots array - that needs to match your MicrosoftAppId. That's how the Teams know to which bot to pass the messages to.

That's it!

No content shown on tabs

Microsoft Teams app manifest contains a property (array) named validDomains, which lists the domains where the app is allowed to load content from. Make sure you remember this, when creating your app. In this sample I've NEGLECTED ALL SECURITY and simply done this:

  "validDomains": [
    "*.azurewebsites.net"
  ]

Read more: Manifest schema: validDomains

Web page 404

Well, now you must have messed with the code! But I really want to mention this: Razor pages use MVC. And why should you care? Because if you don't, bad things can happen, and by bad things I mean you'll get 404. Check out Startup.cs - there are two spots there that must be defined in order for the pages to be accessible:

In ConfigureServices method:

services.AddMvc();

In Configure method:

app.UseMvc();

Further reading