Previewing Flows is one of the most useful features in Manychat because it allows you to test your automation before setting them live and avoid bringing a bad experience to your customers.
To start testing the flow at any time, just press the button titled “Preview,” located in the upper right corner of the Flow Builder, next to the “Publish” button.
Next to its title, the preview button also has a little icon that indicates the mode in which the Preview function currently operates. Learn more about both modes in the next section of this article.
Preview allows you to test automation in two modes:
“In Manychat” — this mode launches the Smartphone widget right inside the Flow Builder, which you can use to test flows super quickly without leaving Manychat and logging in to any chat apps. Since you see Flow Builder and chat thread side by side, correcting typos as you spot them and rapidly iterating on the message order, texts, and visuals is extremely convenient.
“In Messengers” — this mode sends the flow directly to the native chat app you're building the flow for (the displayed name of this mode varies accordingly: “In Messenger,” “In Instagram,” etc.). To use this mode, you must be logged in to Messenger / Instagram / WhatsApp, etc., and subscribed to your own bot to receive the flow message.
☝️ Important: since “In Manychat” mode does not require you to be logged in to any chat apps, there are certain limitations to the things that can be previewed in this mode:
Contact data and 3rd party data exchange
For instance, “In Manychat” mode does not render, update or export any of the contact data, so when your Flow reaches, let's say, a Tag condition, you will be asked to which part of the flow you want to proceed after this condition. Similarly, when previewing the Dynamic block, Google Sheet, or Zapier action in the “In Manychat” mode, it will not export or import any data.
Flows other than the one currently opened in the Flow Builder
“In Manychat” preview mode only previews the current flow (the one you see next to the Smartphone widget on the Flow Builder). For example, you cannot preview another flow of your bot that is triggered by a Keyword, a Default Replay, or a Start Flow step.
Like native app previewing, the “In Manychat” preview mode will not display any content that your contact can’t see in their messengers, such as Action, Smart Delay, or ‘Start a Flow’ (those will not be executed as well).
User Input validations (we'll support this in the nearest future)
For example, if you set the error message for a non-valid phone number, the “In Manychat” preview mode won’t display it because it does not validate input data. You can actually input any text. In addition, “In Manychat,” user input only works with text, so you can't upload a picture. Also, you can’t preview the “If contact has not responded” behavior or ‘Multiple Choice’ options of the user input block. Those limitations are temporary and will gradually be removed.
WhatsApp Message Templates (we'll support this in the nearest future)
Emails or SMS
Note that Preview won't work with Emails or SMS as it was intended for messaging apps provided by Meta in the first place.
If you encounter a problem with previewing some content that is not the expected behavior as per this article, please submit a ticket to our Support Team using our Help Portal: https://manychat.com/support/features.
You can also request the support of your most needed content in our feature request portal: https://feedback.manychat.com/features
Best way to use the “In Manychat” mode
As you can see, while “In Manychat” mode is the fastest way to check the structure of the conversations and the content, it cannot fully replace the “In Messengers” preview mode.
Our recommendation is to use “In Manychat” mode at the beginning of your work when you are likely to change lots of things frequently, finding the right wording and visuals, correcting typos, and structuring the whole conversation.
As you get closer to the final version of your flow, it’s better to switch to “In Messengers” mode to test bot behavior as a user of the native app before publishing it. Especially if you programmed complex behavior that involves customers’ data import/export via integrations such as Google Sheets, Zapier, or Dynamic request calls (things that can only be tested using “In Messengers” mode).
“In ManyChat” mode controls
“In ManyChat” preview mode implies that you interact with the chat thread as your contact would in the real app. We tried to replicate the behavior and the UX of Meta’s apps as closely as possible, and we did so where it was significant. There are some details though, that are worth mentioning:
- The main elements are displayed as you are used to seeing them in chat: Text, Buttons, Quick Replies, Images, Delay, Card or Gallery, Audio, Video, and Instagram Dm List.
and are special steps that only you can see. Naturally, your contacts won’t see them in the thread. Since the “In ManyChat” mode does not work with real contact data, it cannot evaluate conditions. That’s why in the case of Randomizer and Condition steps, you’re asked to explicitly choose a path that would, in real life, be determined automatically.
Smartphone widget controls
You can restart the preview anytime by using the Refresh button (located next to Close Button). This button acts the same as the main Preview button, running the whole Flow from the start. Also, if you make changes to automation while previewing, you will see a suggestion to restart the Preview because the Flow was changed.
You can close the Smartphone widget anytime. Mind that the chat history is not saved. When restarted, the Preview will start playing from the first step.
Preview “In Messenger”
For a final check before publishing, you can first send the automation to yourself.
Test your automation on the channel where your audience will see it: Instagram, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, SMS and Email.
To use Preview in Messenger, you need to opt-in and let us know your contact info so we can send you the test flow.
Next time when you build a flow and feel like testing it yourself – press the Preview button and fill in all the necessary fields.
No worries, you can change all of your data later. Just go to the Contacts tab, find your profile card, and change your contact data.
Remember that we charge you the same as your subscribed contact for SMS and Emails you send to yourself in order to Preview flows. The price for 1 SMS and 1 Email can be found in Setting > Billing. Facebook Messages are free.