An Alexa Skill is a piece of software which listens to your voice on an Amazon Echo device and then completes a task based on your question or command. This can include ordering a pizza using the Domino’s Skill, checking train times with National Rail or simply playing Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock with Alexa.
I have made two Alexa Skills over the last year or so, usually creating an Alexa Skill relies on you knowing how to program for Node.js, compiling all the files together and uploading them onto AWS Lambda. This can be very daunting for people who haven't programmed before and would like to have a go at creating their own, this is where Alexa Skill Blueprints can help.
Alexa Skill Blueprint allows you to make an Alexa Skill by simply filling in a few blanks, we are going to build a Skill together so I can show you how easy it is to do, then you can use your own creativity to come up with a Skill of your own to build on your own.
Firstly, head over to https://blueprints.amazon.com/ and log in with your Amazon account details. Once you have done that, you'll be greeted by the main page where you can pick what kind of skill you want to make. You can choose from a range of Skill templates for categories including fun & games, learning & knowledge, at home and storyteller.
For the purpose of this tutorial, I am going to select Trivia, where we can set some questions and make the answers multiple choice.
Next, you’ll see a screen which gives you an example of how the trivia quiz would sound on an Amazon Alexa device. We are going to get started on our own by pressing ‘Make Your Own’.
The template already had some pre-built questions in it, but I’ve come up with some more giffgaff related ones for this tutorial, including questions about payback and getting help with network status and coverage.
Next, we can customise the message Alexa says when you open the Skill and the sound that plays as well.
Next, we can customise the way Alexa greets each player in the game.
We can also set the Alexa responses for a correct and incorrect answer along with the sound that is played alongside it.
Select a background image that will show on the screen, behind the questions, on an Echo Show or an Echo Spot.
Finally, we can decide what our trivia quiz is going to be called. I’ve called mine ‘giffgaff Trivia’.
Amazon will then take a few minutes to build your Alexa skill and will let you know when it's ready to use.
Now, I can say “Alexa, open giffgaff Trivia” and play the trivia game I have just created on any Echo device logged into my Amazon account. You can play with up to four players, Alexa will ask for your names, you each play the questions, Alexa confirms if the answers are right or wrong, says a related fun fact and totals up the scores and declares a winner.
There you have it, we have built our first Amazon Alexa Skill together, why not check out some of the other templates and make some fun skills. You can’t publish Skills made with Blueprints to the Skills Store but you can have a lot of fun with them at home with your friends and family. If you want to get more advanced and create a custom skill, there are loads of tutorial out there on the internet (and some from Amazon) that you can follow and then you can publish them on the Alexa Skills Store and let the world try them out.
Let me know in the comments what kind of Skills you have made with Alexa Skill Blueprints, I hope you found this tutorial helpful and interesting, why not also check out my review blog post on the Amazon Echo Dot if you don’t have an Alexa device already.
Thanks for reading,
Carl produces websites, apps and videos. View his latest work at carlrydings.com