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Showing posts by Marion Desmazieres

April 08, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

Makers-training-03_blog-01.pngToday's post is by Sam Morgan, Head of Education at Makers Academy

This is part three of our Makers Academy series for Ruby developers. Learn more about this free training on the Alexa Skills Kit and read the first module and second module.

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April 06, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

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We’re excited to announce a new beginner course by Treehouse. The “Build an Alexa Skill” course will help guide both developers and non-developers alike through the skill-building process.

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March 30, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

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By Sam Morgan, Head of Education at Makers Academy

Editor’s note: This is part two of our Makers Academy series for Ruby developers. Learn more about this free training on the Alexa Skills Kit and read the first module.

Welcome to the second post in our series designed to take you from zero to hero using Alexa with Ruby. In our first module, we:

  • Set up a simple Alexa skill
  • Set up a tunneled Sinatra application
  • Hooked the two together to say "Hello, world"

In this module, we'll handle variable data from users using slots. This module introduces:

  • Slots
  • Custom slot types

This module uses:

  • Sinatra
  • Ruby's JSON library
  • Ruby's HTTP library
  • The Numbers API

We’re going to build a fact-checking mechanism so users can ask for facts about particular numbers. Here are some things users will be able to ask Alexa:

Alexa, ask Number Facts to tell me a trivia fact about 42.

Alexa, ask Number Facts to tell me a math fact about 5.

Users will be able to choose:

 

  • a number (any number!)
  • a fact type 

Alexa will respond with an interesting fact about that number that is specific to that type of fact.

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March 23, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

Makers-training_blog-01.png

By Sam Morgan, Head of Education at Makers Academy

Editor’s note: This is part one of our Makers Academy series for Ruby developers. Learn more about this free training on the Alexa Skills Kit in this blog post

Welcome to the first module of Makers Academy's short course on building Alexa skills using Ruby. Amazon's Alexa Skills Kit allows developers to extend existing applications with deep voice integration and construct entirely new applications that leverage the cutting-edge voice-controlled technology.

This course will cover all the terminology and techniques required to get fully-functional skills pushed live to owners of Alexa-enabled devices all around the world using Ruby and Sinatra.

What's in This Module?

This module contains a basic introduction to scaffolding a skill and interacting with Alexa. This module introduces:

 

  • Intent schemas
  • Utterances
  • Alexa communication paradigm
  • Tunneling a local application using ngrok over HTTPS
  • Connecting Alexa to a local development environment
  • Alexa-style JSON requests and responses 

During this module, you will construct a simple skill called “Hello World.” While building this skill, you will come to understand how the above concepts work and play together. This module uses:

 

  • Sinatra
  • Ruby's JSON library

 

 

Let's get started! 

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March 16, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

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We’re pleased to announce our collaboration with Makers Academy on a new Alexa Skills Kit training course for Ruby developers.

Makers Academy is a leading web developer bootcamp based in London, UK. Its highly-selective, full-time program teaches the principles of software craftsmanship. Makers Academy has graduated over 700 students into their dream jobs as junior developers.

We believe natural user interfaces such as those based on speech represent the next major disruption in computing. Now is a great time for developers to take advantage of this new form of interaction and to learn to build voice-first experiences for Alexa, the voice service that powers Amazon Echo. Makers Academy’s mission is to teach students the most used technologies in today's marketplace, and we’re excited to team up to prepare you for the future of voice computing.

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February 27, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

Champions_John_blog.pngA few months ago we introduced Flask-Ask, a new Python framework for rapid Alexa skill development created by Alexa Champion John Wheeler. Today, due to popular demand, John shares how you can deploy your Alexa skills built with Flask-Ask to AWS Lambda, a service that lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers, which you can use to build serverless applications. Check out John’s technical tutorial below, connect with him on Twitter, and hear more about Flask-Ask in the Alexa Dev Chat podcast episode 10.

 

In our first post, Flask-Ask and ngrok were used to rapidly create a memory game skill and test it locally. This post shows how to use Flask-Ask with the Zappa framework to quickly deploy skills to AWS Lambda. As of this writing, AWS Lambda supports Python 2.7. This tutorial assumes Python 2.7 is installed on your Windows, Mac, or Linux system.

 

Zappa, a serverless Python framework, uses a combination of AWS components to emulate the WSGI environment on Lambda that Python web frameworks require. Since Flask-Ask is a Flask extension and Flask requires a WSGI environment, Zappa is the perfect fit for deploying Flask-Ask skills to AWS Lambda. To demonstrate, we'll create an Alexa skill that uses the GitHub API to return how many stars, watchers, and forks a repository has.

Let's get started!

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February 16, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

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A few months ago we shared a free video course on Alexa development by A Cloud Guru, a pioneering serverless education company in the cloud space. Today, we’re excited to announce a new advanced course on Alexa skill building instructed by Alexa Champion Oscar Merry for A Cloud Guru. As the co-founder and head of technology at Opearlo, a voice design agency, Oscar has extensive experience with the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). He has worked with the technology since November 2015, designing and building skills for clients across a number of industries and use cases. He’s also been giving back to the community and sharing his ASK knowledge by running the London Alexa Devs meetup since July 2016.

In this Advanced Alexa Skills Kit course, Oscar gets you started with the ASK SDK for Node.js and shares a practical project that any meetup organizer can implement to use Alexa as their event assistant.

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December 13, 2016

Marion Desmazieres

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Today, we’re excited to announce a new, free video series on Alexa development by Coding Dojo, a pioneer in the coding bootcamp space that offers in-person and online classes. These Coding Dojo YouTube videos will help aspiring and established Python coders learn about building skills for Alexa, the voice service that powers Amazon Echo.

Here is what you can expect to learn in Coding Dojo's Alexa Skill Training series:

  • The videos will introduce Alexa-enabled devices like Echo and talk about the Alexa Skills Kit, a collection of self-service APIs, tools, documentation and code samples that make it fast and easy for you to add skills to Alexa.
  • The video instructor will take you through the process of creating an Alexa skill built in Python using an AWS Lambda function as the backend to handle the skill's requests. You will learn the steps to create a Coding Dojo skill that can tell you about the coding bootcamp and their instructors.
  • The videos will cover how to configure a skill in the Amazon developer portal, and will discuss setting up the interaction model, intent schema, and sample utterances, and testing the skill.
  • With a code walkthrough you will take a closer look at the code that’s allowing your Alexa skill and Lambda function to interact.
  • Finally, the video training will walk you through creating your own backend using Flask-Ask, a Python framework and Flask extension created by John Wheeler, an Alexa Champion. You will also learn how ngrok can allow you to test your skill locally. The series will end with an overview of AWS Elastic Beanstalk and its advantages.
“At Coding Dojo we want to give people hands-on experience building apps and programs for popular technologies in order to help them further their careers,” said Richard Wang, CEO at Coding Dojo. “The new videos will give both novice and existing developers invaluable project experience for their resumes and portfolios. With a number of our graduates already working at Amazon, we're hopeful that these types of real world projects will help more of our students get the opportunity to work on exciting new technology like Alexa.”

Watch the Alexa video series for free on YouTube today.

Learn more about Alexa with Coding Dojo

In addition to the videos, Coding Dojo announced a new in-person and online class, as well as an Alexa hackathon that will train Python developers to create skills. The Alexa skill building class is available as a module in the Python stack at Coding Dojo’s 14-week onsite and 20-week online coding bootcamp. Finally, Coding Dojo will host an Alexa skills hackathon led by Amazon Alexa employees on February 20, 2017 in San Jose. Anyone interested in participating should contact Coding Dojo's San Jose campus.

Check out the full announcement by Coding Dojo here.

December 02, 2016

Marion Desmazieres

The name of Harrison Kinsley may not ring a bell but if you’re into Python programming you’ve probably heard the name “Sentdex”. With over 125,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel and about 800 free tutorials on his associated website, Harrison has become a reference for learning materials on Python programming.

Today, we’re excited to share a new Alexa skills tutorial for Python programmers available for free on PythonProgramming.net with companion video screencasts to follow along. This three-part tutorial series provides the instructions and code snippets to build an Alexa skill in Python that goes to the World News subreddit, a popular feed on news aggregator Reddit, and reads the latest headlines. To follow along, you will need an Alexa-enabled devicengrok or an https enabled server, and an Amazon Developer account.

In this tutorial, you can expect to learn:

Get started with the Alexa tutorial series here. For more Python tutorials, head to Harrison’s website.

Happy coding!

Marion

Learn more

Check out these Alexa developer resources:

 

November 16, 2016

Marion Desmazieres

Three months ago, we launched Alexa Champions, a recognition program designed to honor the most engaged developers and contributors in the community. Through their passion and knowledge for Alexa, these individuals educate and inspire other developers in the community – both online and offline.

Today we’re excited to recognize ten new Alexa Champions and to showcase their contributions to the Alexa community on our dedicated gallery. We thank them for all the knowledge they have shared with others and for the tools they have created to make it easier for developers to use the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Service (AVS).

Meet the new Alexa Champions

Join me in extending a warm welcome to the newest Alexa Champions:

  • Andrea Bianco is an active advocate of Alexa in the smart home arena, with dozens of in-home implementations of the Smart Home Skill API and counting. You’ll often find her sharing Alexa knowledge at home automation events, or making feature suggestions in the weekly ASK Developer Office Hours. Learn more about Andrea.
  • Darian Johnson won second place in the Best AVS with Raspberry Pi segment of Alexa’s Internet of Voice challenge on Hackster.io with his Mystic Mirror skill. He continues to contribute to the Alexa community by sharing the source code to his projects, providing feedback to other developers, and blogging about expanding the use of Alexa in his home. Learn more about Darian.
  • Hicham Tahiri got involved in Alexa skill building in 2015 and crafted a developer toolbox offering a visual conversation design tool with automatic code generation, a community-generated intents library and a voice simulator. He shares his knowledge of voice interfaces, ASK and AVS with the Alexa meetup group he manages in Paris. Learn more about Hicham.
  • Joel Evans is the founder of the Boston Echo / Alexa Developers meetup. He regularly creates skills for demonstrations at meetups, presentations, and client meetings for his company, Mobiquity that has developed many skills, both as proof of concepts to share with clients or as published skills in the Alexa catalog for global brands. Learn more about Joel.
  • Leor Grebler enables developers to quickly create Alexa voice interactions with the Ubi Portal, a voice prototyping tool, and to test them with the Ubi App for Android powered by the Alexa Voice Service. He shares his knowledge of voice interfaces, ASK, and AVS in daily Medium blog posts and with the Ubiquitous Voice Society Toronto Meetup group he manages. Learn more about Leor.
  • Mandy Chan is a serial skill builder who won multiple hackathons with Alexa projects. She gives back to the ASK community by publishing open source projects such as the SSML-Builder npm package and the Alexa-Hackathon-Quick-Starter on GitHub. She also volunteers for the NYC Amazon Alexa Meetup. Learn more about Mandy.
  • Oscar Merry has worked with the Alexa technology since November 2015, designing and implementing prototypes for clients across a number of industries and use cases with his voice design agency, Opearlo. He’s been running the London Alexa Devs meetup since July 2016. Learn more about Oscar.
  • Ryan Kroonenburg created the “Alexa development for absolute beginners” courses for A Cloud Guru which allows beginner developers and non-developers to learn how to build skills. He regularly shares his passion for Alexa at events like ServerlessConf and the Alexa Devs Dublin meetup. Learn more about Ryan.
  • Terren Peterson built multiple Alexa skills, including Hurricane Center which one third place in the first Amazon Alexa Skill Contest on Hackster.io. He integrated AVS with a Raspberry Pi to create a voice activated pitching machine that won first place in the Best ASK with Raspberry Pi segment of Alexa’s Internet of Voice challenge on Hackster.io. Learn more about Terren.
  • Tilmann Böhme started the Amazon Alexa Meetup in Berlin to bring people interested in voice interfaces together and to contribute to building a strong Alexa community in Germany. He is regularly invited to give presentations about Alexa and voice interfaces. Learn more about Tilmann.

Get involved

There are many ways you can share educational and inspiring content about AVS and ASK with the Alexa community through your own blog or newsletter, open-source development tools, tutorials, videos or podcasts and social media. You can also organize local meetup groups for like-minded Alexa enthusiasts and developers.

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