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Snapshots

Introdution

A Snapshot is an immutable form of your Virtual Agent including the following resources:

  • Flows (Including any trained NLU models)
  • Lexicons
  • Connections
  • NLU Connectors
  • Functions
  • Playbooks
  • Settings
  • Localization
  • Tokens
  • Extensions

Once a resource has been included into a Snapshot, this resource within the Snapshot can no longer be modified through any operation e.g. in the Flow Editor or through our RESTful APIs.

The main use case for Snapshots is to create an immutable just-in-time copy of all relevant resources of a Virtual Agent so this specific version can get deployed through Endpoints while your developers already work on the next version of your Virtual Agent. A second use case for Snapshots is to create a backup of your Virtual Agent in order to be able to go back in time and restore an older state of a Virtual Agent.

We highly encourage our customers to create Snapshots and point productive Endpoints only to Flows that are contained within Snapshots.

A Snapshot does NOT include the following resources
  • Endpoints
  • Intent Trainer records
  • Analytics data
  • Contact Profiles
  • Logs
  • Members
  • Other Snapshots

Managing Snapshots

In order to see all Snapshots of your Virtual Agent, head over to DeploySnapshots. Initially you will see an empty list as no Snapshots exist by default.

Creating a new Snapshot

In order to create a new Snapshot of the current state of your Virtual Agent, click on New Snapshot followed by providing a name and description. We suggest to include some sort of a version number in the name field and describe what has changed in this version of the Snapshot in the description field.

Note

Since Snapshots contain a copy of your Virtual Agent, they can have a huge file-size. Hence we have introduced a limit of 10 Snapshots per Virtual Agent. If you have reached the limit, you have to first delete older Snapshots before you can create new ones. Customers with a dedicated installation can increase the maximum number of Snapshots via an environment variable in the cognigy-env config-map: MAX_AMOUNT_SNAPSHOTS_IN_AGENT. Please note that there is also a file size limit of Snapshots which can be changed when a dedicated product installation is used. This aspect can be changed via the following environment variable in the cognigy-env config-map: SNAPSHOT_MAX_FILE_SIZE.

Download a Snapshot

You can download Snapshots you have created previously. This is useful if you want to archive your Snapshots offline or if you have multiple Cognigy.AI systems and you want to transfer a Snapshot to your other Cognigy.AI system.

In order to download a Snapshot, you have to go through our two step process:

Prepare a downloadable package

  • Click on three-dot menu of a Snapshot from the list
  • Select "Prepare Download"
  • A new task will be created and your downloadable package will be created
  • A success notification will appear once your download is ready

Download the packaged Snapshot

  • Click on the blue icon of a Snapshot in order to initiate the download
  • The web browser will start to download your Snapshot in our proprietary ".CSNAP File Type"
.CSNAP File Type

The .csnap (Cognigy Snapshot) file type is a dedicated proprietary file type that can only be uploaded and opened within the Snapshot tool of a Cognigy.AI v4 platform. We don't provide any tooling to open a Snapshot outside of Cognigy.AI. The data in your Snapshots will be encrypted as Snapshots also contain potentially sensitive data in the form of Cognigy Connections.

Upload a Snapshot

The use case for uploading a Snapshot is usually to deploy its Flows into production. Since Snapshots life within Virtual Agents as other resources, you have to either first create a new Virtual Agent or upload the Snapshot in one of your existing ones.

In order to upload a Snapshot, do the following:

  • Click on the "Upload Snapshot" button
  • Select the ".csnap" file for your Snapshot
  • A new task will be created and your Snapshot will be uploaded and processed
Info

Uploading a Snapshot will not have any impact on the resources (e.g. the Flows) that are part of your Virtual Agent. Since you can only have 10 Snapshots in a Virtual Agent by default, make sure that your Agent has less than 10 Snapshots before starting to upload a new one.

Restore Virtual Agent from Snapshot

If you are using Snapshots as a way of archiving your Virtual Agent, you might want to restore your Virtual Agent to the point where the Snapshot was taken initially. We offer this functionality through our "Restore Snapshot" option.

Restoring a Snapshot Overwrites all existing agent resources

Make sure that you are fully aware of the implications when restoring an Virtual Agent from a Snapshot. All resources within the Virtual Agent will be deleted before they will be reconstructed from the Snapshot. In case you have active Endpoints pointing to the Flows in your Virtual Agent, conversations will break as those Flows will be removed.

In order to restore an Virtual Agent from a Snapshot, do the following:

  • Upload the Snapshot in case the Snapshot from which you want to restore is not present in your Virtual Agent
  • Click on the "Restore" option in the three-dot menu
  • A warning dialog will appear
  • Enter the name of the Snapshot in order to confirm the operation
  • A new task will be created as deleting all current resources from the Virtual Agent and restoring the resources from the Snapshot can take some time
  • A success notification will be displayed once your Virtual Agent has been successfully restored from the Snapshot
Restoring a snapshot from another agent may require manual changes to the endpoints

Version badge Restoring a snapshot from another agent will automatically update the endpoints assigned with primary locale but would need a manual update for endpoints with secondary locale. Those endpoints will be indicated with a red dot beside the endpoint name, like in the images below.

Deleting a Snapshot

Once you reach the maximum number of Snapshots in your Virtual Agent, you have to start deleting older Snapshots. It is essential to make sure that no Endpoint is currently pointing to the Snapshot you are about to delete!

In order to actually delete the Snapshot, do the following:

  • Select "Delete" by clicking the three-dot menu for a Snapshot you want to remove
  • Click on "Confirm" in the dialog that will open
  • A new task will be created and your Snapshot will be removed
Check usage of your Snapshot!

Endpoints in production should point to Snapshots. It is important that you first check whether no Endpoints are any longer pointing to the Snapshot you want to remove. Removing a Snapshot which is still being referenced by one of your Endpoints will break the conversations for your customers!

System Compatibility

We are constantly improving the Snapshot feature including the file format for Snapshots. We guarantee backward compatibility for Snapshot, meaning that you can import Snapshots that have been produced in older versions of Cognigy.AI (e.g. v4.4) into newer releases. Snapshots taken with a newer version of Cognigy.AI are not compatible with older versions though.

Production deployment using Snapshots

The following three scenarios show how Virtual Agents should be deployed into production. The concepts make use of the fact that an Agent in Cognigy.AI is like a project in other software products.

Using a single Virtual Agent

The Snapshot concept allows you to make your Virtual Agents available through Endpoints while you are already working on the next version of your Virtual Agent. This scenario is the simplest of all, but also quite elegant. Let's assume that you have a Virtual Agent called "Order Bot" for your restaurant.

People developing the bot would simply create Flows, Lexicons, Intents and all other Resources as usual. Eventually you have reached a state that you want to publish to your customers. A new Snapshots needs to be created. You don't have to prepare a downloadable package for the Snapshot as we won't download and upload it to a different place - all will remain in the current Virtual Agents project.

In order to release the new Snapshot, you visit your Endpoint(s) (e.g. your Webchat endpoint that you are using on your website) and simply select the new Snapshot and the Flow(s) within the Snapshot. Since you are now using resources within the Snapshot in production, developers can - without any fear - modify the Flows in the Virtual Agent directly without breaking conversation logic for your customers.

Using multiple Virtual Agents

For more control on what is actually running in production, the "multiple Virtual Agents" approach should be choosen.

A customer wants to build an Virtual Agent for FAQs on their website. Two Agents should be created in Cognigy.AI:

  • FAQ Bot development
  • FAQ Bot production

Developers only have access to the "FAQ Bot development" Agent. All Flows, Lexicons, Intents and all development in general happens here. Eventually a certain state has been reached and a Snapshot is created. A downloadable package for a Snapshot has to be created and the Snapshot has to be downloaded.

In order to release the Snapshot, somebody with access to the "FAQ Bot production" uploads the packaged Snapshot and then points the productive Webchat endpoint to the new version of the Snapshot.

Snapshots should not get restored

Please remember that Snapshots do not have to be restored in order for Endpoints to actually use their content! The "FAQ Bot production" Virtual Agent should not contain direct resources like Flows. It should only contain Snapshots and its Endpoints should point to Snapshots directly.

Deployment concept using Snapshots and two Virtual Agent "projects"

Using multiple Virtual Agents with multiple Cognigy.AI systems

If you are having multiple, physically separated, Cognigy.AI installations, you can even go one step further compared to the second concept explained previously. Customers in this situation usually have:

  • a Cognigy.AI installation with low hardware specs for "development" purpose
  • a Cognigy.AI installation with higher hardware specs for "staging" purpose where acceptance tests for new versions are being executed
  • a Cognigy.AI installation with high hardware specs for "production"

Developers only have access to Virtual Agent projects in the "development" installation. They build bots, craft entire new experiences or improve already existing solutions. Once they have reached a desired state in their projects, they create new Snapshots. Downloadable packages for Snapshots will be created and provided to the team(s) working on the "staging" installation.

Personnel on staging will receive the Snapshots from developers and upload these into their Virtual Agent projects in the "staging" system. They point their Endpoints to the new Snapshots and run acceptance tests. If they find defects, they will tell their development team(s) which will then fix the problems and provide new Snapshots. If testing goes well, the Snapshots will be moved to the "production" system.

Personnel with access to the production system - usually only a very small group of people - point the productive Endpoints to the new Snapshots provided by the team(s) who have verified the quality on the "staging" system. The "production" system is also the place in which Cognigy Insights will be used to understand how the actual users use the Virtual Agents as productive interaction only happens on this system.

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