Mark Cuban Says You Should Learn to Build Alexa Skills—Here’s How to Get Started

Michelle Wallace May 15, 2020
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Editor’s Note: We have changed the name of the Alexa skill in our beginner tutorial from Cake Walk to Cake Time given the term’s racially insensitive history.


You may know Mark Cuban as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, an investor on ABC’s Shark Tank, and a self-made entrepreneur. As someone who found success in the early days of the internet, he knows a thing or two about spotting business opportunities. And he recently told CNBC Make It that if he was going to create a side hustle business today, it would be in the field of voice.

“I would become an expert in scripting for Alexa and Google Home and Cortana and go to any place that sold devices they supported and show them how much more they could do with a few hours of personalization,” said Cuban.

With the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), you can build your own Alexa skills, which are like apps for Alexa. Skills let customers use their voices to perform everyday tasks like checking the news, listening to music, playing a game, and more. The Alexa Skills Kit provides purpose-built APIs for common use cases such as smart home and music, or you can build your own custom skill to deliver nearly any use case.

There are many free resources available for developers who want to learn how to build custom Alexa skills. But with the wide availability of resources and the range of skill levels in the developer community, it can sometimes be overwhelming to know where to start. We’ve put together our top three resources for beginner Alexa skill developers, and recommendations for how to make the most of them.

1. Alexa Skills 101

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of self-service APIs and tools for building Alexa skills. Get started by exploring our beginner resources on the ASK website. They explain how Alexa skills work and break down the different ASK tools that will help you build.

You can also explore the different types of experiences you can build with custom skills, including games, education, health and fitness, productivity, and shopping. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out the Alexa Skills Store or our library of case studies.

2. Video Series: Zero to Hero

Looking for a step-by-step overview of how to build a custom Alexa skill? Our Zero to Hero video series provides just that. It’s targeted to beginner Alexa skill developers and walks through the complete process to build an Alexa skill from scratch, including key terminology. You’ll gain both conceptual knowledge and a practical understanding of how to create your skill with our development tools, all in a visual format.

You can watch the video series from start to finish in 2-1/2 hours. When you’re done, you can return to key concepts whenever you need a refresher.

3. Hands-On Tutorial: Build an Engaging Alexa Skill

Another good way to learn how to build a custom Alexa skill is with hands-on experience. Our beginner tutorial, Build an Engaging Alexa Skill, walks you through the process of building an example custom Alexa skill called Cake Time. After learning some foundational concepts and terminology, you’ll begin building the skill using the Alexa developer console. After completing the tutorial, you’ll have built your first Alexa skill and understand how to submit a skill for certification to be published in the Alexa Skills Store.

The tutorial takes about 90-120 minutes to complete, and is broken into modules that cover key concepts, terminology, and steps in the skill-building process. You can complete them in order from start to finish, or select the topics you’re most interested in exploring.

Brand New to Coding?

If you’re brand new to coding, you’ll need to pick up some foundational development skills before starting an Alexa skill. However, having an active project in mind is a great reason to learn to code. Many online resources offer on-demand training in multiple programming languages.

You may be wondering which programming languages you should learn. While you can develop an Alexa skill in any language that’s compatible with your cloud infrastructure, you might choose to focus on Node.js, Python, or Java, since we offer software development kits (SDKs) in these languages to simplify your development process.

Or, if you’re interested in building an Alexa skill for your own personal use, you can use Alexa Skill Blueprints to build your own experience without writing a single line of code.

What’s Next?

We can’t wait to see the new experiences that you build for Alexa customers as you begin your development journey. Along the way, we also encourage you to engage with the Alexa developer community and explore our additional tutorials and code samples.

Interested in hearing more from Mark Cuban? Check out our own conversation with him about the future of voice.

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