Tips to Get Started with Alexa Skill Quick-Start Templates

Sohan Maheshwar Oct 02, 2018
Tips & Tools

We recently launched quick-start templates to help new and experienced skill developers get started faster when building a fact skill, quiz skill, or high-low game skill. Each template comes with an interaction model and default endpoint and provides pre-set intents, slots, and prompts.

If you're new to skill building, quick-start templates are a great way to learn how a skill works as you build your first voice experience. Every skill has a voice user interface (VUI) and a back end that consists of the programming logic. The quick-start template is automatically configured with the interaction model that makes up the VUI as well as the endpoint that provides the back-end code for the skill. You can modify the VUI to add more intents, slots, and prompts. You can also change the endpoint to your own AWS Lambda function or custom back end once you have designed your VUI. Check out our technical documentation for step-by-step instructions to get started.

More About Each Quick-Start Template

Currently there are three quick-start templates to currently choose from. Here we provide an overview of each one and tips for using them:

Fact Skill Template

The fact skill template comes with one custom intent, four built-in intents, and no slot values. If you’re a new Alexa developer, the template is helpful to understand the various parts that make up a skill. In the Build tab, you can check out the invocation name, intents, and endpoint of your skill. Clicking on the intent will display all the corresponding utterances and slots (if any) that invoke your intent. Don’t forget to click on “Save Model” and then “Build Model” to build your interaction model.

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Once you’ve built your interaction model, click on the Test tab to interact with the Space Facts skill using the Alexa simulator. Try different utterances using the invocation name to see the matching intent.

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Quiz Game Template

This template has one custom intent with one slot and six built-in intents. The quiz game template has the AMAZON.StartOverIntent that lets the customer request to restart an action, such as restarting a game, transaction, or audio track. Make sure you Save and Build Model before testing the skill. Say “open quiz game and start a quiz” to test the template out. You can say “start over” or “restart” to test out the invoking of the AMAZON.StartOverIntent.

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High-Low Game Template

This template has two custom intents with five slots and five built-in intents. One of the built-in intents is the AMAZON.FallbackIntent, which is an intent that helps you handle unexpected utterances, or when a customer says something that doesn’t map to any intents in your skill.

Start interacting with the game by saying “open high low game.” Try out the different utterances to guess a number (such as, “Is it fifty one”). Note that if you use numerals in your text (such as, “Is it 51”), the simulator will display invoking the FallbackIntent as numerals are converted to words during the speech-to-text conversion while using Alexa.

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Tips for Designing Delightful Experiences with Quick-Start Templates

Whether you’re building your first or your fifth skill, the quick-start templates can help you learn and implement several voice design best practices.

  • Provide a comprehensive list of utterances – In the fact skill template, the GetNewFactIntent has a list of 14 utterances. With a voice user interface, there is no fixed interface like a graphical user interface. Having many different utterances map to an intent ensures that each variation of what a user can typically say is covered.
  • Pick a clear invocation name – The invocation name for each template skill is easy to pronounce, memorable, and explicit about what the skill can do. Choose your skill invocation name wisely as your customers will need to remember it before interacting with your skill. Having hard-to-pronounce words in the invocation name increases the chance of an error when a user tries to invoke your skill.
  • User built-in intents where possible: Amazon provides developers with built-in intents for commonly used actions such as stopping, pausing, or asking for help. When you create a skill, there are five built-in intents that are added to your skill by default – FallbackIntent, CancelIntent, HelpIntent, StopIntent and NavigateHomeIntent. You can customize the actions for each of these intents in your back-end code. If your skill requires an action like Pause or Yes/No, use one of the built-in intents. Pay special attention to the FallbackIntent that the high-low game template uses. This intent can be very useful as a catch-all when your users say something that you haven’t anticipated in your utterance list. Handle these unexpected utterances with grace and get your users back on the right path within your skill using this built-in intent.

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