How to test your Alexa Skills on Developer Console

Seema Ramdev Dec 20, 2021
Test Alexa Skills Tips Alexa Skills Alexa

Before you publish your skill to the Alexa Skills Store or submit it for certification, it is recommended that you test it multiple times using the below tools. Testing your skills at different stages provides you with the expected and actual behavior of the skill. This helps you determine if the skill responses are relevant to the customer requests, if the customer facing details are clear and informative, and in the case of any issues found during testing, how you can debug and resolve proactively.

Currently, the below options are available for all Alexa Skill types. Let’s go through them in detail for the following types of skills: 1) Custom , 2) Flash Briefing, 3) Smart home skills. 

Custom Skills

You can test your custom interaction model with the Utterance Profiler after you successfully save and build your skill model. You do not need to configure an endpoint for testing the skill with Utterance Profiler. However, ensure the following configurations are met before testing the development version of your skill:

  1. Invocation name: Specified in Invocation > Skill Invocation Name
  2. Defined intent: At least one intent with sample utterances is defined in Intents
  3. Type of slot: For any custom intents having slot values
  4. Error-free interaction model: The interaction model should be free of any errors (like utterance conflicts). Refer to this document to run a self check for if you interaction model is well defined/built.

If your custom skill contains an AWS Lambda ARN or HTTPS endpoint, make sure that the default region field is filled. For an HTTPS endpoint, it is important that the SSL certificate type is correctly indicated, or you can also use a self signed certificate which is available only for testing an endpoint.

Once the skill is built and the interaction model is defined, you can choose the “Evaluate Model” option to let the system test and validate the utterances under the Utterance Profiler tab. 

Using Utterance Profiler 

  1. Go to the Build tab as shown in the image above and click on Evaluate Model.
  2. Select the Utterance Profiler tab.
  3. Enter sample utterance and click Submit.

For skills using account linking: If your custom skill uses the account linking feature, please ensure that it is configured correctly. You can test intents that do not require authentication, however, to avoid skill rejection during the certification process, you must test all intents that return a LinkAccountCard. This ensures that all intents with account linking are working as expected, and in the case of any issues found, you can proactively debug it. 

Flash Briefing Skills

Flash briefing skills are created using a pre-built model for which you need to mention and save all the below requirements of at least one feed to proceed through the skill testing:

  1. Preamble
  2. Name
  3. Content update frequency
  4. Content type
  5. Content genre
  6. Feed
  7. Feed icon

Once you have filled in all the details, login to using your developer account credentials. Then add your skill to the flash briefing section of the Alexa Web App or Alexa Mobile App (More> Configurations> Select News section under Alexa preferences).

Here you can say “Alexa, what's my Flash Briefing?” and see if the skill is giving an appropriate response.

Alternatively, you can select Edit from the drop-down of the skill, go to Test tab, and then to Skill testing enabled in: and select Development. Then you can try the utterance mentioned and above, and the skill should respond as expected if there is no error. Now, your skill should be ready to submit for the certification process.

Smart Home Skills

To test and debug your smart home skills, you can follow the below steps. In developer console, go to:

  1. Smart Home > Smart Home Service Endpoint: Provide a valid AWS Lambda ARN endpoint. At a minimum, fill in the Default Region field.

   2. Account Linking: Complete all required fields on the page.

   3. Permissions: If your skill uses this permissions, enable the Send Alexa Events permission. 

For more information, you can refer to the technical document Test and Debug Your Smart Home Skill. You also need an account configured for your device cloud and discoverable devices for that account.

Test your Alexa skill without a device using Alexa Simulator on developer console.

The Test page includes a simulator that lets you test your skill without a device. When you are ready to test the skill, navigate to the Test page.

If you haven't enabled testing for this skill, locate the Test is disabled for this skill option in the upper left hand corner with the drop-down selection set to Off. From the drop-down list, select either Development or Live as your skill testing stage.

If you have already enabled testing, from the Skill testing is enabled in: list, select either Development or Live as your skill testing stage, or select Off to disable testing.

You can only select one option here, meaning that your skill can only be enabled/tested in one stage at any time. For example, enabling your skill for testing in the Live stage correspondingly disables your Development version for testing, and your live skill continues to be available in the developer console, SMAPI, ASK CLI and your devices that are signed in to your developer account. As part of this enablement in the developer console, the page will redirect to the live stage URL and will reset all session and context information. If you have any information you want to preserve, be sure to save it before proceeding. This activity generates a new User ID and can be used to simulate a first-time user experience. If your live skill is configured with a live lambda version, this stage of enablement uses that live version.

You can use the Test page to test most functionality in a skill, including multi-turn interactions, progressive responses (with limitations), and entity resolution. The page provides three tabs on the left for different types of testing.

In nutshell, Alexa offers multiple options for testing both new and current skills in development version. Below are some of the few recommended options to test ‘In-Development’ version of your skill:

  1. Utterance profiles – You can use the utterance profiles to test your custom interaction model. You can enter utterances and see how they resolve to the intents and slots before you write the code for your service.
  2. Skill simulator – The simulator provided on the Test page in the developer console gives you access to most Alexa Skills Kit features without a device. You can interact with Alexa with either your voice or text.
  3. Alexa device – You can always set your Alexa-enabled device and register with your developer account and test the In-Dev version of the skills.
  4. Alexa app – You can also test your skill with the Alexa app for Android/iOS.
  5. ASK Command Line Interface (CLI) – Use the ASK CLI to test the skill from the command line. You can test your skill by using ASK CLI commands such as invoke-skill and simulate-skill. For more details about managing skills from the command line, see ASK CLI Quick Start.
  6. Skill Management API – Use the skill testing features of the Skill Management API.

Ensure that your Alexa skill meets the minimum requirements before with the testing it with any of the tool mentioned earlier in the blog.

Related Links

Performing Your Live Skill Update
5 Common Certification Pitfalls
Tips for a Successful Alexa Skills Certification