Elevate your skills with Alexa Presentation Language

Kumudini Manda Sep 01, 2022
Alexa Skills

At Alexa Live 2022, we announced several new Alexa Presentation Language (APL) features that make multimodal skill building easier and more efficient. Each of these APL resources helps you to build rich and engaging multimodal Alexa skills to connect with your users, add value to their lives and keep them coming back for more. 

The features that we announced enable you to:

We also launched APL Best Practices for Developers, a technical guide to streamline your APL skill development process, and improve the performance and quality of the interactive voice and visual experiences in your Alexa skills. In addition, the APL Accessibility Guide enables you to build APL visuals that are accessible to Alexa users with limitations and disabilities. 

Build visuals for Alexa in minutes

Say hello to Multimodal Response Builder, a new guided skill building workflow that simplifies the steps required to add a visual response to your skill. Multimodal Response Builder brings the multiple steps that you must take to create a visual response for your skill into one guided walkthrough, and enables you to create a visual for your skills in as little as 15 minutes. The Response Builder provides an option to select from a range of responsive visual templates that follow Alexa design guidelines, customize it and see an automatically generated code snippet that you can add to your skill code. Moreover, Response Builder automatically enables the APL interface for you to allow your skills to return APL responses. Lastly, any changes you make on the templates are auto-saved to your skill repository. Watch your visuals come alive on Alexa with Multimodal Response Builder.

Auto-generate skill code for APL documents

You can now see auto generated skill code for any of your APL documents, including the documents built outside of Multimodal Response Builder as long as the APL documents are saved to your skill under the Multimodal Responses tab on developer console. We know that a lot of you use APL Ninja to create and share APL documents with each other and hand code skill directives for those documents. Learn more about synchronizing your APL Ninja documents to developer console here and using “Integrate with skill” option to auto generate skill code for the documents. Get skill code for any APL document with the “Integrate with skill” option. 

“Integrate will skill” option on developer console allows you to see auto-generated skill code for APL documents

Add immersive audio to your skill with APL for Audio templates

Did you know that with APL for Audio (APLA), you can create audio responses that include audio responses from Alexa, Polly voices, sound effects and music to your skills? You will now see templates for each of the APL for Audio components right in the developer console by navigating to Multimodal Responses on ASK Console, and clicking on “Create Audio Response” under Audio tab. Each of these samples demonstrate the optimal way to create rich audio experiences for use within your custom skills. If you would like to play a set of audio clips at the same time, render a single audio clip selected from an array of possible clips, or play a series of audio clips sequentially – you can now see, customize and preview a sample for each of these use cases on the APL A Authoring Tool. Get Alexa grooving with APL for Audio.

Learn APL interactively 

Try out APL without creating any skill with code sandbox. The code sandbox integrates a code editor into the APL technical documentation. We have embedded lightweight versions of APL Authoring Tool that you can interact with and experiment with APL. You can view and edit interactive APL examples relevant to the documentation topic. In the example below, the sandbox demonstrates the use of progress bars in APL. The preview window on the right shows the look and feel of the experience. You can change viewport profiles to get previews for different screen sizes and shapes as well. Like in the APL Authoring Tool , you can set and change the data source payload of an APL document. You can play around with an APL sample, change it, break it, fix it, all right inside the tech docs. Once you are even take this sample code with you by copying it and pasting it into any APL authoring tool of your choice. It’s really that simple. Try APL as you read with Code Sandbox.

APL Code Sandbox

Raise the bar on your multimodal experiences
We are proud to introduce APL Best Practices for Developers, that will help you optimize APL experiences as you create more sophisticated multimodal experiences with the ever expanding set of APL features. These guidelines will help ensure that your multimodal experiences render quickly on Alexa devices. This guide covers topics like document lifecycle management, technical design of APL documents and document structure. Build the best version of Alexa with APL Best Practices for Developers.

Make your multimodal experiences accessible
We are happy to share the APL Accessibility Guide that helps you build your visuals accessible to all users, regardless of any temporary, permanent, and situational disabilities. In this document, you will find technical guidelines for enabling accessibility in your APL documents as you are developing them. The guide shows you how to enable those with impaired vision to read and interact with the screen and how to implement accessibility labels to support screen reader assistance. Make Alexa accessible for everyone with the APL Accessibility Guide.

Update on Widgets
During our ongoing private beta phase for APL widgets we’ve received valuable feedback from participating skill developers highlighting improvements for a simplified and efficient widget-building experience. We understand your excitement and appreciate your patience as we keep working on incorporating your feedback and making widgets publicly available with high priority.

All of these features have been made possible through your continued partnership and feedback. Please take a moment to take our developer survey to tell us how we can better help you. You can learn more about all the new features, general updates to APL and more in our technical documentation and tune into the Alexa Community Slack to ask questions, meet other multimodal developers, and share what you build! If you need help, come find me on Alexa Community Slack or my team at @austinvach or @smrudula on Twitter.

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