Immersive experiences await: APL 2023.3 introduces new animation and dynamic UI features

Kumudini Manda Nov 28, 2023
Alexa Skills


We are pleased to announce the release of Alexa Presentation Language (APL) 2023.3. This release includes new features that make it easier to author multimodal experiences with animated transitions and even more dynamic visuals. Ring in the new year with upgraded interactive and animated multimodal experiences! 

Enhanced Animated Transitions Authoring

The following APL updates help you incorporate richer animated transitions in your multimodal experience. 

Quickly Convert Animated Motion Designs to APL

APL 2023.3 includes enhancements that improve conversion of animated Lottie files to Alexa Vector Graphic (AVG) animations. The Lottie Converter within the APL authoring tool now converts Lottie animations with radial gradient and images. These changes supplement the existing set of Lottie animation features supported by the Lottie Converter. We’ve also made the conversion more efficient, so that conversion results are better optimized for fluid playback of animated vector graphics. This includes flattening unnecessary nested groups in the converted AVG (Alexa Vector Graphics), and generation of more compact AVG files you can use in your multimodal experiences. The Lottie Converter source code with all these improvements is available to review and integrate with an APL authoring tool of your choice, please see the library here. We will continue adding conversion support for additional Lottie features, so please reach out and tell us what other Lottie features you would like to see in the Lottie Converter

Build Alexa Vector Graphic (AVG) Files Faster

With APL 2023.3, we centralized the way parameters can be passed to your Alexa Vector Graphic (AVG) files. This improves readability of AVG properties which in turn helps with faster discovery and debugging of AVG properties used in your APL document. For additional details, please see AVG object parameters.

Control Scrolling and Paging Animation Speeds

This release also includes new properties to customize animated transitions associated with dynamic components in your APL document, such as Sequence, Scrollview, and Pager components. It is also possible to skip the transition animation entirely, such as on initial launch of the experience. To control scroll duration, set the new targetDurationproperty on the ScrollScrollToIndex, or ScrollToComponent commands. To control transition speed for a pager, set the transitionDuration property on the SetPage or AutoPage command.

More Flexible Backgrounds 

APL 2023.3 now supports specifying gradients in the background property, making it easier to create visually appealing backgrounds for your experience. For additional information, please read about the new background property of the Frame component.

Make your experiences more dynamic 

The following APL updates make it easier for you to add dynamic content to your multimodal experience.

Flexible imports and extension request

APL 2023.3 introduces new import types and conditional evaluation to select which packages, in what order, and when they are imported into your APL document. This makes it easier to manage complex packages and improves the performance of your multimodal experience. For additional information on conditional imports, please see APL Import. We’ve also made it possible to request an APL extension and corresponding document only when a specific extension is available on the device and define a fallback experience when the extension is not available. Please see Request an extension in the APL document for additional details. 

Data Arrays in Parallel and Sequential Commands

Dynamic updates to your visuals can now be applied more efficiently by using the data property in the Parallel and Sequential command. This helps to avoid writing repetitive APL code to iterate and apply a set of commands to each of the items in a data array. You can set an array of values in the data property of Parallel and Sequential command so that a block of parallel or sequential commands can be repeated for each item in the data array. See an example of a list that first changes its color and then text using the Sequential command on a data array here. Similarly, see an example where each item in the list changes color, and list at the same time using the Parallel command on a data array here

Insert and remove items dynamically at runtime

You can now modify your rendered experience without re-inflating the APL document especially when you don't know the layout and existence of the child components while authoring the document. You can do this by using the InsertItemor RemoveItem command to update child items for a component dynamically at runtime. You can use the onChildrenChanged event handler to watch for such dynamic updates made to child components of your rendered experience. 

Learn how to build widgets faster

The code sandbox in the APL technical documentation displays APL examples in a live code editor with a preview pane that shows how the example renders. Since launching in 2022, we’ve added the sandbox to many additional pages throughout the docs to help you experiment with APL features without leaving the docs. With 2023.3, the sandbox supports widgets and the data store. Widget examples display a medium widget preview and include a Data Store tab that lets you simulate populating and updating the data store. For details, see Test widgets and the data store.

For additional information, including a comprehensive list of APL 2023.3 new features, please see What’s new in APL

Getting Started with APL 2023.3

To begin building with APL 2023.3 features and ensure backward compatibility of your experience, please visit work with APL versions. You may also check the version of APL supported on Amazon devices by following instructions here: APL versions and Amazon device support. We have updated APL authoring tools and documentation to help you take advantage of new APL 2023.3 features so you can build new documents or add the new features to existing documents with Visual Studio Code with ASK toolkit or APL Authoring tool. Our quick reference APL Cheat Sheetsguide and APL technical documentation have also been updated to include 2023.3 features. If you’re new to learning APL, start off here.

2023 Multimodal Roundup

In 2023, we announced general availability of Widgets that let you display quick and essential information related to a skill and let users perform quick actions without leaving the current screen context or asking for updates. To get started with widgets, see About Widgets and Alexa Presentation Language (APL) and Add a Widget to Your Skill. We updated the alexa-layouts package to version 1.7.0 with several Widgets and accessibility updates to Responsive ComponentsMotion ComponentsResponsive Templates. Through the year, we introduced more features that let you make more of your multimodal experience decisions at runtime instead of sending down static APL documents like dynamic entities, vector graphics with dynamic sourcesdeferred evaluation for databinding expressions, selector syntax for commands. We also enabled speech marks for better synchronization of your animated visual effects with ongoing audio, closed captioning for videos, additional image blend modesabsolute seeking on video playback to help you create rich and engaging multimodal experiences. These are only some of the key features of 2023, please refer to What’s New in APL for the complete list of APL features released over the years.

Help us build better for you!

APL enhancements are made possible through your continued partnership and feedback. Please take a moment to tell us how we can better help you by providing feedback via our developer survey. You can also continue learning about APL features in our technical documentation. Please come find us and other multimodal developers on Alexa Community Slack or on X if you need if you need assistance. 

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