My First Alexa Skill

Earlier this month I published my first Alexa Skill, the Sint Maarten Quiz. What motivated me to create an Alexa Skill was the free t-shirt. No, I’m just kidding! But really, I’ve been passively thinking about Alexa Skill Kit (ASK) ever since I learned a bit more about Amazon echo and Alexa Voice Services (AVS) over the summer when I first started my internship at AOL.

What triggered me to finally learn how to build a skill was the past weeks in October. One of my assigned task at work was to see if I could create a skill that can read a feed; however, this task was never done. But during my time researching, every tutorial I came across seemed hard to follow — even the official tutorial post by Amazon … or maybe it was just me.

Finally! I came across the Flask-Ask tutorial. It’s a micro-framework that makes Alexa skill development hassle-free. The tutorial was very easy to follow using just python with some yaml and json. So, with that I created my first practice skill, here.

However, even after completing this tutorial, I was still not satisfied. Using Flask-ask, I can deploy my skill on AWS Lambda using Zappa, but I wanted as much as possible not to use any frameworks besides Amazon services. And the search continues …

Note, I’m terrible in searching things on the web. So, what may take some people few tries to find might take me 10x that.

Anyways, I finally found another tutorial by Amazon (it’s another version of the first one that I could not follow :( ). This version is clear enough to understand and has almost a cohesive flow from one step to the another. I love that the steps wasn’t as cluttered as the first one that I came across. So, this was the version I followed to create and published my first skill.

It took me a night to complete, and 4 business days to approve my skill. Also, because I didn’t use any frameworks and everything was on lambda I didn’t need to worry about security issues. If was hosting my skill as a web service I would have make sure it fulfill these requirements and some more.

The whole process was fun, and a tiny bit frustrating but I did it! If you guys get a chance, try out my quiz. As the name states Sint Maarten Quiz is a skill that quizzes you about Sint Maarten!


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