Tips & Tricks for Alexa Development

Amazon just released a slew of new Echo products. The new expanded product line-up adds variety to their offering. The new products include:  a reduction in size to the standard Echo, the introduction of the Echo Spot, an alarm clock shaped device with a display. They've also released an accessory that allows you to connect your landline to your Echo ecosystem to make and receive calls through voice interaction. With a great new product line-up we thought it would be a good time to share some tips and tricks we've found during our Alexa development projects. These 6 tips might seem fairly straightforward, but they are always good to remember.

  1. When you write your skill’s example phrases, make sure they don’t contain any, emoticons, symbols, exclamation points, or grammatical errors. Example phrases should only include content that is intended to be spoken exactly by Alexa users. Make sure that if any of your intents allow users to ask about specific things that you don't generalize such as, "Alexa, ask example list to add {item} to my list." If you want to write an example phrase like the one mentioned, it should look like this: "Alexa, ask example list to add carrots to my list." Amazon Help Page

  2. If your Skill connects to an outside service, make sure that the user authenticates their account in the app. If they don't compete the account linking, an error message clarifies that the account isn't properly linked. Additionally, that response must create a card in the Alexa app pointing you towards the Link Account page. Without the proper error handling, Amazon will not approve your skill. Amazon Help Page

  3. Only add intents that are fully developed and deployable to a new version of your skill, or it will be declined. Adding intents that are not fully implemented will be tested by Amazon even if it has no utterances. Use version control well, and you will be in great shape!

  4. Select the example phrases that you display in the skill store from the sample utterances you develop in the skill. If the example phrases are word-for-word, you can be sure that the commands will work. Amazon Help Page

  5. If you do make changes to one part of a skill, make sure that you reflect those changes throughout. This can be an easy mistake to make when changing an invocation name late in the game.

  6. Properly manage sessions, by closing them when a user input isn't needed. When Alexa is expecting a response the microphone should be on waiting for user input, but otherwise should be turned off. During a one-shot request, "Alexa, launch {myskill}", or a help request, "Alexa, launch {myskill} help", you also need to make sure sessions are either open or closed intentionally.Amazon Help Page

These are only some of the tricks we've learned while helping our customers develop Alexa skills. If you need help building an Alexa skill you can go to our  Alexa development page to find out more!