December 27, 2017Justin Jeffress
Editor’s Note: This is an installment of a new series that showcases the top developer tips, tutorials, and educational resources to help you build incredible Alexa skills. Follow the series to learn, get inspired, and start building your own voice experiences for Alexa.
Alexa skills make it faster, easier, and more enjoyable to get things done. As you create more skills, it becomes easier to identify more ways to delight your customers with voice. We love watching developers become inspired to build magical voice experiences for Alexa users.
Our first post in this series featured our top tips and tutorials for new skill builders. For developers who are ready to tackle advanced design techniques and build more sophisticated Alexa skills, check out our latest roundup of resources below.
Watch this on-demand webinar on Advanced Voice Design Techniques to see Alexa skill building in action. Two Alexa technical evangelists will show how you can sharpen your Alexa skills to enable customers to engage in multi-turn conversations. You’ll learn advanced features like dialog management, entity resolution, state management, session persistence, and context maintenance.
Alexa skills are, by design, inherently stateless. Unless you do some work, each response loop between the Alexa service and your web service is a clean slate with no knowledge of what happened before. But there are many times when Alexa’s response should be based on what happened previously. You may need to remember a user’s current choices and actions to inform future decisions. This is called state management, and you can apply it at three levels: application level, the session level, and the user level. Read this blog post to learn the basic concepts of state management, best practices to embrace, and pitfalls to avoid.
With the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), you can incorporate audio clips beyond Alexa’s text-to-speech (TTS) voice into your skills. This includes short audio files like sound effects, longer audio content like podcasts, and frequently updated content like news clips. As you incorporate audio clips to enhance the voice experience of your Alexa skill, it’s essential to make sure the volume of the audio clips is consistent. Check out this blog post for tips on how to analyze your audio file, find the loudness measurement, and adjust the audio loudness as needed.
Now Alexa developers can build and host most Alexa skills for free using Amazon Web Services (AWS). This program gives you access to more AWS infrastructure to help build engaging skills. You can use AWS services to level up your skill with advanced capabilities, including memory and context, machine learning, and more. Reference this blog post for five ideas for using AWS services to unlock your skill’s potential.
Stay tuned in to the rest of the series for additional posts featuring resources for new skill builders, smart home skills, skills for devices with screens, and kid skills. Then, tell us about what you’re building for voice with Alexa. Tweet us using the hashtag #AlexaPioneers.