Today’s guest blog post is from Kesha Williams, an Alexa Champion, AWS Machine Learning Hero, and technical instructor with A Cloud Guru. She has developed several popular Alexa skills, including Word Jumble and Phone Tracker to name just a few. She was featured as one of Amazon’s Women of Voice and was among the first in the industry to be certified as an Alexa skill builder. In her spare time, she serves on the executive board of VoiceFirst.Community and mentors women in tech.
As an Alexa Champion and an active member of the Alexa developer community, I’ve always sought ways to bring Alexa to more developers. I enjoy introducing Alexa skill development through hands-on workshops, hackathons, and speaking at technical conferences. Throughout my 20+ year career as a software engineer, I’ve built many different types of applications, and I can say without a doubt that developing for Alexa has been the most fun. There’s a lot of creativity that goes into teaching Alexa a new skill and an unparalleled sense of “coolness” that comes along with working with artificial intelligence (AI).
My latest initiative to educate and inspire other developers in the community is a new prep course for the AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder exam with A Cloud Guru. I’m thrilled to offer this course because I’ve designed it to not only give you the confidence to pass the exam, but also to become top-tier Alexa skill builders using AWS products and services and advanced features of the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).
How does the course work? First off, don’t worry if you’ve never developed for Alexa before—the course will meet you where you are on your learning journey. It’s structured around a series of hands-on labs where you’ll build a brand new skill from start to finish, adding new features to it along the way as new concepts are introduced. The course starts at the very beginning by first teaching you about the AI behind Alexa and how the voice service works. Then, I show you the tools you need for development and help you get your local development environment set up. I then take you through the design process for a brand-new skill, which includes voice design patterns and best practices for building engaging skills. Next, we deep-dive into skill architecture as I teach you how to use AWS products and services to develop your skill. Specifically, we cover the common products and services used to build a custom skill from scratch: AWS Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon S3, Amazon CloudFront, and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM). Next, I teach you how to use advanced features from the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), including visual elements, sound effects, audio and video, dialog and state management, monetization, and personalization. I also teach you how to configure your skills using the Alexa developer console, and even share testing and troubleshooting techniques using the Test Simulator and Amazon CloudWatch.
The course wraps up by walking through the skill certification and publishing process. I show you how to make the Alexa skill you develop during the hands-on labs available to others through the Alexa Skills Store. By the time the course is over, you will have developed and published your first skill!
This course is a great way to help you prepare for the AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder exam while also learning how to build truly engaging voice experiences for Alexa. So why not get started building for voice today? I look forward to seeing you in the course!
Ready to take the AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder exam? In the month of December, US developers who publish a new skill with in-skill purchasing (ISP), or update an existing skill with ISP, will earn a voucher to fully cover the AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder exam fee. Begin preparing for this exam and learn more about this promotion here.