This tutorial is first in the Quick & Dirty series for developing a custom Alexa skill called My Zoo.
Estimated time: 5-10 minutes
No programming experience necessary
With this tutorial, you’ll create the bare bones of a custom Alexa skill with a customized welcome message using the Alexa Developer Console (ADC).
Little by little, as you progress through this My Zoo tutorial series, you’ll add features to make the skill more engaging and fun. Now, it’s time to dive right in and experience the joy of creating something that really works!
- an Amazon Developer account, click here to create one (it’s free)
Create “My Zoo”
Step 1: Create the bare bones of a skill
- Log into the Alexa developer console.
- Click Create Skill.
- Set Skill name = My Zoo
- From “1. Choose a model …” options, select Custom.
- From “2. Choose a method …” options, select Alexa-hosted (Python).
- Click Create skill at top of page.
- From “Choose a template…” options, select Start from Scratch.
- Click Continue with template at top of page.
After a few minutes, your new Alexa skill is ready to customize.
Step 2: Update invocation
An Alexa invocation is the word or phrase used to trigger a custom skill.
- Click Invocation Name box, in the right column of the build screen.
- Set Skill Invocation Name = my zoo
- Click Save Model.
- Click Build Model (may take a minute to complete).
Step 3: Test
Let’s see what the bare-bones build did.
- Click Test on the top menu bar.
- Under the top menu, you’ll see “Test is disabled for this skill.” with a drop-down list next to it. Choose Development.
open my zoo(or, just
my zoo) in the field with the mic icon.
- You should see/hear the default Alexa “Welcome” message:
Where does this ‘Welcome…’ message come from?
With a bare-bones custom Alexa skill, the first thing Alexa does is invoke a “Launch Request” intent. We’ll be discussing intents more in the next post of this series.
For now, let’s customize the Welcome message.
Step 4: Customize the “Welcome” message
- Click Code on the top menu bar.
- You should see a bunch of code in the editor on the right part of your screen. Find this line:
- About 8 lines down from there, find this line:
speak_output = "Welcome, you can say Hello or Help. Which would you like to try?"
This is the message that Alexa speaks when you invoke My Zoo.
- Change the welcome message inside the double quotes. For example:
speak_output = "Welcome to My Zoo, I make animal sounds!"
- Click Save button near top-right of screen.
- Click Deploy to make the changes take affect. This may take a minute.
- Test, as you did in Step 3.c:
That’s it, you’re done!
Congratulations, you’ve created a custom Alexa skill! The world is now your oyster!
The next step is to get Alexa to prompt for the name of an animal and respond with the appropriate animal “sound”, by adding Intents. Continue to Create a Custom Alexa Skill, Part 2 (Intents, Utterances, Slots).
As always, thank you for visiting my blog. If you have corrections or suggestions for this tutorial series, please add a comment below.
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