AlexaDev Tuesday: SSML vs. Audio Player In Alexa Skills

Today it's a closer look at using SSML vs. Audio Player in Alexa skills. SSML isn't just for speechcons or sound effects, this versatile option can be used to play audio clips up to 90 seconds long.     SSML: It's Not Just For Sound Effects Most Alexa skill developers already know they can use Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) tags in their skills to play short audio snippets like...

AlexaDev Tuesday: Alexa Skill Monetization Beta

Independent developers have wanted a means to easily monetize their Alexa skills pretty much from the very beginning. Now that the Alexa platform seems relatively stable and continues to branch out across the globe, Amazon is ready to make it happen: independent developers can now sign up for the Alexa skill monetization beta.     Amazon will select beta participants, and applicants...

AlexaDev Tuesday: Alexa Dialog Management Allows Capture of Multiple Slots

One frustration many Alexa skill developers have is the rigidity of the interaction model. Sometimes your skill needs to get more than one piece of information from the user in order to fire its next function. Thankfully, the new Alexa dialog management tools allow for capture of multiple utterances in a single interaction.     In his recent post on the Amazon Developer Blog, Justin...

AlexaDev Tuesday: Alexa Display Template Skill Deep Dive Wrap-Up

Time to wrap up the Alexa Display Template skill deep dive with some lessons learned and my conclusions about writing Display Template skills in general.     Note that the information provided here is accurate as of publication date, on 3/20/18, but is subject to change in the future if Amazon makes changes to its Alexa devices or the Alexa software. Why No 'Building Out...

AlexaDev Tuesday: Audio Resources For Foreign Language Alexa Skill Devs

Alexa's available in many regions outside the US now (France was just announced today, and Italy will be joining us soon!), which presents both opportunities and challenges for English-speaking skill devs. Today I'm sharing some audio resources for foreign language Alexa skill devs, to help create foreign language audio files and get them into the proper format for Alexa.     Meet...

Deep Dive Part 9: Alexa Display Template Skill Test Gotchas

The Deep Dive series continues with a discussion of Alexa Display Template skill test gotchas. Testing Display Template skills is a little more demanding and time-consuming than it is for voice-only skills, since you must test the visual and touch elements on top of the usual voice interaction testing. A systematic approach will make things easier, but there are definitely some pitfalls to avoid....

Alexa Display Template Skill Deep Dive Part 8: Using Alexa Display Template Directives

My Alexa Display Template Skill Design & Coding Deep Dive series continues with a closer look at Alexa Display Template directives.     Note that the information provided here is accurate as of publication date, on 2/27/18, but is subject to change in the future if Amazon makes changes to its Alexa devices or the Alexa software. Deep Dive Status Check At this point in the Display...

Alexa Display Template Skill Deep Dive Part 7: Persisting Data With Session Attributes In Alexa Skills

My Alexa Display Template Skill Design & Coding Deep Dive series continues with a look at persisting data in-session by using session attributes in Alexa skills.     State Management vs. Session Attributes vs. Database There seems to be some confusion among developers about when to use a database vs. when to use state management vs. when to use session attributes. State management...

AlexaDev Tuesday – Guest Post From Dustin Coates: All About Alexa Skill Localization

Today we take a break from the deep dive series about my Visual Tarot skill to share a guest post from voice developer Dustin Coates. If you've got questions or confusion about Alexa Skill Localization, this post should help clarify things for you.     India, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland... who knows where next? Alexa is reaching more locations, giving Alexa skill developers more...

Alexa Display Template Skill Deep Dive Part 6: Alexa Platform Changes

My Alexa Display Template Skill Design & Coding Deep Dive series continues with a discussion of one of the harder realities Alexa skill devs have to face: Alexa platform changes can happen at any time, and you won't get any advance warning when they do.     Alexa Change Is Certain, But Unpredictable For 3P Devs The Alexa ecosystem is young, and in flux. Amazon is still figuring out...