Alexa Display Template Skill Deep Dive Part 5: Alexa Skill Image Cheatsheet

My Alexa Display Template Skill Design & Coding Deep Dive series continues with a free, downloadable resource I hope will save you time and aggravation when working with text and images in Alexa Display Template skills: an Alexa Skill Image Cheatsheet.     Image and Font Specs Matter With respect to the deep dive series, we've nailed down our skill concept, sourced our images, and...

Alexa Display Template Skill Deep Dive Part 4: Mapping Alexa Skill GUI Flow

My Alexa Display Template Skill Design & Coding Deep Dive series continues with the next step in the Display Template skill design and planning process: mapping Alexa skill GUI flow. This is necessary because Display Template skills can utilize touchscreen controls, but only in a very limited way: link locations are fixed by the template, and possible behaviors are fixed by the SDK. It's not...

Alexa Display Template Skill Deep Dive Part 3: Things That Kill Alexa Skills

My Alexa Display Template Skill Design & Coding Deep Dive series continues with a look at some things that kill Alexa skills before they're even published. You'll want to go down this checklist before you invest too much time or effort in any new skill, and the Visual Tarot skill this series is based on is no exception.     1. Did someone else already write it, or something nearly...

Alexa Display Template Skill Design & Coding Deep Dive Part 2: Visual Tarot Alexa Skill Code

My Alexa Display Template Skill Design & Coding Deep Dive series continues with what many of you have been waiting for: the Visual Tarot Alexa skill code.     What's Included In The Visual Tarot Skill All of the following methods, functions and items are employed in, and illustrated by, its heavily-commented code. NewSession Use of sessionAttributes to persist skill data in-session...

Alexa Display Template Skill Design & Coding Deep Dive Part 1: Sourcing Alexa Skill Content

Welcome to part one in my Alexa Display Template Skill Design & Coding Deep Dive series. Links to all of the posts in this series are included at the end.     Rich Content Makes For A Superior User Experience One of the first breakout skills on Echo was The Wayne Investigation, and its popularity was eventually eclipsed by The Magic Door. The thing both of these skills have in...

AlexaDev Tuesday – Alexa Display Template Skill Design and Coding Deep Dive: Introduction

Why an Alexa display template skill design and coding deep dive? When the Echo Show was first announced one of my earliest skill concepts for it was a Tarot card reader. It seemed like a great fit for the platform, and a type of app that tends to be popular in other formats. I figured that with Amazon's Display Template tools, building a skill like this would be a cake walk. I couldn't have been...

AlexaDev Tuesday: International Alexa Skills With No Code Changes

I've noticed that many Alexa skill devs are reluctant to release their skills in markets outside the US, and I think it's because many are under the impression that code changes and/or foreign language fluency are required. This is not true. In many cases, you can release international Alexa skills with no code changes and no interaction model changes.     Adding UK, India, Canada and...

AlexaDev Tuesday: New Health And Fitness Skill Policy?

One of my skills was recently caught in the 'quality spot check' net Amazon regularly casts over live skills, and in the process of trying to answer the cert team's change request I was hit with what may be a new health and fitness skill policy.     Caveat: if this is a new policy, Amazon has not made it official. I'm only talking about what's being required of my skill and options I've...

AlexaDev Tuesday: Free Audio Resources For Alexa Devs

If you're looking to add music, sound effects, voiceover or any other audio to your Alexa skill, you've come on a good day. Today I'm sharing a few free audio resources for Alexa devs.     Audacity: Free, Open Source, Professional-Grade Audio Studio Software I use Audacity to create and remaster audio in all my skills that employ audio. If you've never used audio software before the...

AlexaDev Tuesday: Proving Alexa Skill Content Is Public Domain

Many Alexa skill developers want to use Public Domain content, which is free from copyright, to avoid paying licensing fees (on skills they're not getting paid to produce, after all). Proving Alexa skill content is Public Domain to the certification test team can be a challenge, but just adding some key details to your skill description and test instructions can nip this problem in the bud....