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Amazon Developer Blogs

Amazon Developer Blogs

Showing posts by Noelle LaCharite

September 01, 2016

Noelle LaCharite

We are excited to share a new template for developers, GameHelper. This template helps you build game guides or user guides for your favorite game. In this tutorial, we will build a skill that tells you how to play chess. There will be five main interaction points that will provide information about how to play the game. The skill in this example will also have the ability to provide a user with a random tip to help improve a user’s game. For this game we also thought it would be interesting to allow the user to ask Alexa about a certain chess piece and get some information about it.

This skill can be adapted to accommodate your favorite game, by changing some basic text. It is also possible to add extra functionality to show features of your favorite game.

After completing this tutorial, you'll know how to do the following:

  • Create a decision-based skill - This tutorial will walk first-time Alexa skills developers through all the required steps involved in creating a decision-based skill using a template called ‘GameHelper’.
  • Understand the basics of VUI design - Creating this skill will help you understand the basics of creating a working Voice User Interface (VUI) while using a cut/paste approach to development. You will learn by doing, and end up with a published Alexa skill. This tutorial includes instructions on how to customize the skill and submit for certification. For guidance on designing a voice experience with Alexa you can also watch this video.
  • Use JavaScript/Node.js and the Alexa Skills Kit to create a skill - You will use the template as a guide but the customization is up to you. For more background information on using the Alexa Skills Kit please watch this video.
  • Get your skill published - Once you have completed your skill, this tutorial will guide you through testing your skill and sending your skill through the certification process for making it available to be enabled by any Alexa user.
[Read More]

August 02, 2016

Noelle LaCharite

We are excited to introduce a new way to help you quickly build useful and meaningful skills for Alexa. The new Decision Tree skill template makes it easy for developers and non-developers to create skills that ask you a series of questions and then give you an answer. This is a great starter for simple adventure games and magazine style quizzes like ‘what kind of job is good for me’.  This template leverages AWS Lambda and the Alexa Skills Kit, and provides built-in business logic, use cases, error handling, and help functions for your new skill. Simply come up with the idea, plug in your decision tree content, and edit the sample provided. Follow this tutorial and we'll show you how it's done.

Using the Alexa Skills Kit, you can build an application that can receive and respond to voice requests made to Alexa. In this tutorial, you’ll build a web service to handle notifications from Alexa and map this service to a skill in the Amazon Developer Portal, making it available on your Echo, Alexa-enabled device, or Echosim.io for testing and to all Alexa users after publication.

When finished, you'll know how to:

  • Create a skill - This tutorial will walk Alexa developers through all the required steps involved in creating a skill. No previous experience required.
  • Design a Voice User Interface - Creating this skill will help you understand the basics of creating a working Voice User Interface (VUI) while using a cut/paste approach to development. You will learn by doing and end up with a published Alexa skill. This tutorial includes instructions on how to customize the skill and submit for certification. For guidance on designing a voice experience with Alexa you can also watch this video.
  • Use JavaScript/Node.js and the Alexa Skills Kit to create a skill - You will use the template as a guide but the customization is up to you. For more background information on using the Alexa Skills Kit please watch this video.
  • Get your skill published - Once you have completed your skill, this tutorial will guide you through testing your skill and sending your skill through the publication process to make it available for any Alexa user to enable.

You will also need an AWS account and an Amazon Developer account. To get a refresher on how to do this, or if you are new to skill development, you can visit our training page to review our past tutorials.

[Read More]

June 24, 2016

Noelle LaCharite

We are excited to introduce a new way to help you quickly build useful and meaningful skills for Alexa. The new flash cards skill template makes it easy for developers and non-developers to create a skill similar to ‘Chemistry Flash Cards’, ‘Language Flash Cards’, ‘Exam Prep’, etc. This template leverages AWS Lambda and the Alexa Skills Kit, and provides built-in business logic, uses cases, error handling, and help functions for your new skill. You just need to come up with a flash card idea (like ‘Anatomy Flash Cards’), plug in your flash cards content and edit the sample provided. Don’t worry! We’ll walk you through how it’s done.

Using the Alexa Skills Kit, you can build an application that can receive and respond to voice requests made to Alexa. In this tutorial, you’ll build a web service to handle notifications from Alexa and map this service to a skill in the Amazon Developer Portal, making it available on your Echo, Alexa-enabled device, or Echosim.io for testing and to all Alexa users after publication.

When finished, you'll know how to:

    Create a flash card based skill - This tutorial will walk first-time Alexa developers through all the required steps involved in creating a flash card based skill.

    Design a Voice User Interface - Creating this skill will help you understand the basics of creating a working Voice User Interface (VUI) while using a cut/paste approach to development. You will learn by doing and end up with a published Alexa skill. This tutorial includes instructions on how to customize the skill and submit for certification. For guidance on designing a voice experience with Alexa you can also watch this video.

    Use JavaScript/Node.js and the Alexa Skills Kit to create a skill - You will use the template as a guide but the customization is up to you. For more background information on using the Alexa Skills Kit please watch this video.

    Get your skill published - Once you’ve completed your skill, this tutorial will guide you through testing your skill and sending your skill through the publication process to make it available for any Alexa user to enable.

You will also need an AWS account and an Amazon Developer account. To get a refresher on how to do this, or if you are new to skill development, you can visit our training page to review our past tutorials. This tutorial is built on the trivia template. 

[Read More]

June 21, 2016

Noelle LaCharite

Today's guest post comes from John Wheeler, the creator of Flask-Ask. John has been programming for two decades and has written for O'Reilly and IBM developerWorks.

This post introduces Flask-Ask, a new Python micro-framework that significantly lowers the bar for developing Alexa skills. Flask-Ask is a Flask extension that makes building voice user interfaces with the Alexa Skills Kit easy and fun. We'll learn it by building a simple game that asks you to repeat three numbers backwards. Knowing Python and Flask are not required, but some experience programming will help.

If you prefer the video walkthrough of this post, check it out here.

Create the Skill

To start, you'll need Python installed. If you're on a recent version of OS X or Linux, Python comes preinstalled. On Mac, you can find installation instructions here. You may also need to install pip, which can be found here. On Windows, follow these installation instructions. Once Python and pip are installed, open a terminal, and type the below command to install Flask-Ask. Note: You might need to precede it with sudo on Unix if you get permission errors. 

[Read More]

June 02, 2016

Noelle LaCharite

We are excited to announce four new Alexa Skills Kit built-in intents that you can leverage immediately in your own Alexa skills.

Think of the intent schema as the blueprint for what your Alexa skill will do. Built-in intents are common actions that you can choose to implement in your custom skill without providing any sample utterances. If you created an Alexa skill in the past, you may have leveraged some of the other built-in intents for your intent schema. With built-in intents, you can build a more robust skill with less sample utterances required in your interaction model. Leveraging these built-in intents is easy and allows more flexibility.

Here are four new built-in intents available now:

Intent

Common Utterances

Purpose

AMAZON.NextIntent

  • next
  • skip
  • skip forward

Let the user navigate to the next item in a list.

AMAZON.PauseIntent

  • pause

 

Let the user pause an action in progress.

AMAZON.PreviousIntent

  • go back
  • skip back
  • back up

Let the user go back to a previous item in a list.

AMAZON.ResumeIntent

  • resume
  • continue
  • keep going

Let the user resume or continue an action.

With these additional built-in intents, you can help users easily and naturally navigate your skills, from being able to pause an intent or request in progress, go back to a previously called intent or resume an existing one. Users can use natural language and phrasing to support these common interactions, allowing you to leverage the built-in intents rather than having to handle these types of requests programmatically.

Already have a skill? This may be a good time to update it with these new intents. Check out the Implementing Built-in Intents page for more information.

For a complete list of built-in intents, see Available Built-in Intents.

Code Happy,

-Noelle (@NoelleLaCharite)

 

May 17, 2016

Noelle LaCharite

Testing your skill is a critical phase in skill development. When building your skill you should following these testing guidelines to ensure that your skill is set up for success when it goes through certification. Once you have completed this initial phase of testing, you may want to add a collection of developer accounts to allow other developers to test your skill on their devices before your skill goes live. These developers will then be able to use their own developer accounts and connected Alexa devices to perform user testing and provide feedback. This is a great way to ensure you are delivering a skill that will function as expected and also catch any bugs that functional testing might miss.   

Note: When you set someone up as a developer on your account, they will be able to test and change any skill in development under your account. Right now there is no way to specify testers for a specific skill in your account.

In This Tutorial You Will:

  • Get an introduction to account settings
  • Learn how to set up test users in the user permissions area
  • Understand what each tester has to do to enable the skill on their device
  • Revoke the ability to test skills from users
[Read More]

May 04, 2016

Noelle LaCharite

Use this tutorial to build a how-to skill and get your free Alexa Dev t-shirt. For more details, see terms and conditions.

We have launched a new skill template that makes it easy for developers and non-developers to create a skill similar to “DrinkMaster,” "Aromatherapy", "Timed Meditation", "Minecraft Helper", etc. These type of skills share the unique ability to parameterize what the user says and map it to a content catalog. For example, a user might say "Alexa, Ask Aromatherapy for a recipe for focus" and Alexa would map the word "focus" to the correct oil combination in the content catalog. Or, a user might say "Alexa, Ask DrinkMaster how to make a Margarita" and Alexa would map the word "margarita" to the correct drink recipe in the content catalog.

This template leverages AWS Lambda and the Alexa Skills Kit, while providing the business logic, use cases, error handling and help functions for your skill. You just need to come up with a content idea (like "Snack Recipes"), plug in your content and edit the sample provided (we walk you through how it’s done). It's a valuable way to quickly learn the end-to-end process for building and publishing an Alexa skill.

Using the Alexa Skills Kit, you can build an application that can receive and respond to voice requests made on the Alexa platform. In this step-by-step tutorial, you will build a web service to handle notifications from Alexa and map this service to a Skill in the Amazon Developer Portal, making it available on your device and to all Alexa users after certification.

After completing this tutorial, you will know how to:

  • Create a parameter-based skill - This tutorial will walk first-time Alexa skills developers through all the required steps involved in creating a how-to or recipe-based skill using a code template called ‘Minecraft Helper’.
  • Design for VUI - Creating this skill will help you understand the basics of creating a working Voice User Interface (VUI) while using a cut/paste approach to development. You will learn by doing and end up with a published Alexa skill. This tutorial includes instructions on how to customize the skill and submit it for certification. For guidance on designing a voice experience with Alexa you can also watch this video.
  • Use JavaScript/Node.js and the Alexa Skills Kit - You will use the template as a guide but the customization is up to you. For more background information on using the Alexa Skills Kit please watch this video.
  • Get your skill published - Once you have created your skill, this tutorial will guide you through testing it and submitting it for certification. After your skill is certified, it's available for any Alexa user to enable.
[Read More]

March 29, 2016

Noelle LaCharite

Editor’s note: This tutorial was updated with the new Node.js SDK in August 2016.

This tutorial has been updated to reflect the Alexa SDK for Node.js as well as some updates to AWS Lambda and our GitHub repositories.

This fact skill template that makes it easy for developers or non-developers to create a skill similar to “Fact of the Day”, “Joke of the Day”, “Daily Reading” etc. The template leverages AWS Lambda, the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), and the ASK SDK, while providing the business logic, use cases, error handling and help functions for your skill. You just need to come up with a fact idea (like “Food Facts”), plug in your fact list and edit the sample provided (we walk you through how it’s done). It's a valuable way to quickly learn the end-to-end process for building and publishing an Alexa skill.

This tutorial will walk first-time Alexa skills developers through all the required steps involved in creating a skill using this fact skill template, called ‘SpaceGeek’. This post assumes you have some familiarity with JavaScript/Node.js (or a similar programming language) and the Alexa Skills Kit.

Using the Alexa Skills Kit, you can build an application that can receive and respond to voice requests made on the Alexa platform. In this tutorial, you’ll build a web service to handle notifications from Alexa and map this service to a Skill in the Amazon Developer Portal, making it available on your device and to all Alexa users after certification.

After completing this tutorial, you'll know how to do the following:

  • Create a fact-based skill - This tutorial will walk first-time Alexa skills developers through all the required steps involved in creating a fact based skill using a template called ‘SpaceGeek’.
  • Understand the basics of VUI design - Creating this skill will help you understand the basics of creating a working Voice User Interface (VUI) while using a cut/paste approach to development. You will learn by doing, and end up with a published Alexa skill. This tutorial includes instructions on how to customize the skill and submit for certification. For guidance on designing a voice experience with Alexa you can also watch this video.
  • Use JavaScript/Node.js and the Alexa Skills Kit to create a skill - You will use the template as a guide but the customization is up to you. For more background information on using the Alexa Skills Kit please watch this video.
  • Get your skill published - Once you have completed your skill, this tutorial will guide you through testing your skill and sending your skill through the certification process for making it available to be enabled by any Alexa user.
[Read More]