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Alexa (6 posts)

In one of my previous articles, I showed how to develop a custom Alexa skill using an example of a Trip Planner app  (How To Build A Dialogue Custom Alexa Skill Using JavaScript (Without Lambda). In this article I will show you a more complex example of the interaction between Alexa and the user. Today will build a  “Guess My Number” game where Alexa (or technically the skill) thinks of a number and the user tries to guess it while the skills suggests whether it is lower or higher. Here’s a sample dialogue a user may have with Alexa once you implement the skill:
guess my number example1 153x300 - Developing a Custom Skill for an Alexa Game guess my number example2 152x300 - Developing a Custom Skill for an Alexa Game

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Backendless 5 is now released (hooray!) and it offers a bunch of new powerful capabilities. One of them is support for development of custom Amazon Alexa Skills. In this post I am going to demonstrate how easy it is to create a custom skill using JavaScript. You will learn how to control the dialogue flow between the user and Alexa using Backendless and custom Cloud Code.

An example we will build a trip planner skill, albeit a trivialized version of it, which will gather from the user the departure date, the departure and arrival cities. The collected information can be used to search available fares, hotels and make any other necessary arrangements.

What You Will Need

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We did it! There is a new SDK in the Backendless family of libraries, please welcome the SDK for Amazon Alexa! Let’s get a few basic questions out of the way first:

Q: Can I build a custom Amazon Alexa skill without Amazon Lambda?
A: Yes, you can definitely do it by running your custom skill implementation in Backendless.

Q: Can I build a custom Amazon Alexa skill with JavaScript, Java or without any programming language?
A: Yes, with Backendless you can implement a custom Alexa skill using Java, JavaScript or Codeless, which is a visual programming environment.

Q: What is the simplest way to build a custom Alexa skill?
A: Great question! Read the announcement below:

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Posted in Alexa, Server Code

If you have any smart IoT devices in your home or office and tried controlling them with Alexa, you might wonder how it actually works. In this guide you will learn about building a custom Alexa skill which will let you control a wi-fi enabled light bulb with Alexa. You will be able to turn the light on/off and change the light colors. You can see a demo of the completed project as well as an overview of its components in the video below:

The solution consists of the following components:

  • Amazon Alexa-enabled device (Amazon Echo)
  • A custom Alexa skill, which is an API service running in Backendless
  • Backendless SDK for Alexa, which provides functionality greatly reducing the amount of work you need to do when working with Alexa requests.
  • An API service which contains the logic of controlling the light bulb
  • A wi-fi enabled light bulb, for this we used a LIFX bulb.
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This is Part 2 of the article about developing an Amazon Alexa skill without any coding. In Part 1 you learned the following:

  • How to create a Codeless API Service responsible for handling Amazon Alexa requests. The service completely removes the need for adding AWS Lambda functions, it also runs without any cost in the free plan of Backendless.
  • How to use the Backendless SDK for Alexa to send a response back to Alexa from a custom skill.
  • How to create a basic Alexa Skill and test it from the Amazon developer console.
  • How to invoke the skill on Alexa, process the invocation in your Codeless Backendless API service and get a response back on Alexa.

In this part of the article, you will learn the following:

  • Creating voice interaction model with “slots” – special placeholders for the “dynamic” parts of the requests for your skill
  • Processing slots in the Codeless API service in Backendless.
  • Executing codeless logic to do something useful and generate a meaningful response.

It is recommended (more like required) to go through Part 1 just so you have the basic environment setup. Also, make sure to watch the “Developing an Alexa Skill without any coding” video which shows the entire process in action.

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Posted in Alexa, Codeless

Codeless Programming is a general approach for creating programs without writing any code. When combined with the power of the Backendess mBaaS, Codeless becomes a powerful and super-efficient tool. In this post, I will describe how to use Codeless to create a custom Amazon Alexa skill. In the first part, you will develop a basic Alexa skill which replies with a static greeting to a voice command. The second post will delve into a more complex implementation.

You can see a demo of what you will build over the course of both posts in the video below:

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