Ask Alexa 2.1.4

Announcing version 2.1.4a of Ask Alexa

The SmartApp has only changed in this release. However, It is always recommended that you update your Amazon developer slots after an upgrade to ensure you are capturing all of the available variables used within Ask Alexa.

PLEASE NOTE: Going forward I will be looking at incremental increases to optimize the code, fix bugs, and increase response speed…No need to weekly updates to do that.

The items in this new version include:

  • Bug Fixes - The normal things…silly misspellings, logic errors, bug reports. Found a few from the prior release when I optimized the code
  • Loosened the “play memory slots” command - You can now “set” the station you want to play (i.e. “Alexa, tell SmartThings to set 70s Rock on Bedroom”) or simply use the device name and the memory slot name to play the song. Remember to update your developer slots any time you change your app’s functionality.
  • Null Routine Handling - The app will now filter out null routines (a routine you start to create but never complete but still exists in ‘limbo’). You will get a visual warning in these situations.
  • Duplicate Handling - More error handling built-in to capture duplicate devices, aliases, names, routines, etc. that may cause issues during use.
  • Device Aliases - A very common request when I first started this project and I finally figured out how to implement it! With this functionality you can now set up aliases for your devices instead of renaming all them. To be clear, you still should have unique names of all objects (nouns) within your app, but now you can have, for example, your devices named one way and accessed through this new alias name. This does NOT replace the device group macros for multiple devices controlled by one name; aliases are for individual devices you want to control by a different name. No need to rename devices within your SmartThings app any longer. Please note that because of limitations in the SmartThings App GUI, you need to be very careful on entering your information into the alias page or you may inadvertently get an error for duplicate alias names.
  • More Dynamic GUI - Found a way to hide device sections that have no ability to choose them. For example, in the switches, dimmer and colored lights section if you don’t have any colored lights at all in your account the placeholder for colored lights would still show up Now, sections that are not selectable are not even shown at all, reducing clutter on the interface.

This is just a SmartApp code change…no real need to install Lambda again; however, it is recommended that you update your developer slots regularly to capture any new objects you create.

For those wishing to re-install, the instructions on the wiki have been updated:
The wiki for this app is here:

All of you have been great in asking very relevant questions and making suggestions that I end up using. Here are some helpful tips on usage and support:

  • Sometimes it works best if I can work real time with you. To facilitate this, I have created a Slack channel: Using this tool is easy and will allow for real-time collaboration to solve the problems faster. To use this feature, I must invite you to the Slack channel. This will not be for normal questions; please use this forum for that function.
  • The Echo, as it is designed currently, cannot react to switches opening or other actions within SmartThings. She will do things for you, but only at your direction and at the time of the request. The delay timer mentioned in the control macro happens at the SmartThings hub, not within the Amazon Alexa control. See the new Message Queue functions for similar functionality.
  • When evaluating new features I will typically ask for a valid use case. If it can be used by others to bring them value I will put it on my list of future revisions. Not all suggestions will be used and many times I add aspects of the request.
  • There are no dumb questions, but many of the questions you may have were probably answered in the past months since the initial release. Please take some time to go through the forum and the wiki if you have issues. And don’t be offended if I give you the specific area of the manual that answers your question. I have spent almost as much time on the documentation as I have on the app. Finally, there are some big fans of Ask Alexa that know almost as much as I do. They can also help.
  • Feel free to send me forks of utterances or even code revisions. As mentioned above, if it adds value to the overall program I will try to include it. This also goes for the wiki documentation…while I have spent about 120+ hours creating that document, I am open to it being improved; I know there are grammatical errors or syntax issues…If you find them, fix them…I will include your name (if I can) in any fixes submitted.
  • If you find a bug or a consistent crash please help me track it down by giving me repeatable steps to reproduce it. A non-reproducible bug, many times, indicates other areas that may be at fault besides the app. If you watch the live logging and see a red error with a line number, that is very helpful to me! However, I will need a full screenshot and not a copy/paste of the text. But be careful about revealing your OAuth and AppToken in your public posts. People can control you house with that information. May want to blur that out.

As mentioned above, revisions will be less and less as I mature this product. And with the code base now unified, I expect less and less additions…especially as we integrate CoRE more to do some of the heavy lifting of larger condition-base automations… Any and all suggestions are still on the table for addition.

As always, I appreciate any public accolades or even donations to my PayPal account: . And, if you are so inclined, I also will accept bitcoins (or fractions thereof) if you have any laying around. My wallet ID is: 1CMgaiKgBfojTBCLpHLfa9KvcrW3cNxVpm


For those that want to dive into creating aliases (and you choose to NOT read the directions), here are the Cliffs Notes:

  • Go to Settings and enable Device Aliases under the Advanced section
  • Choose devices within each device category that you want to create aliases for. THESE ARE DIFFERENT than the devices that you access directly. Please note that you CAN have duplicate items in the alias list. However, the ‘golden rule’ of Ask Alexa still stands: EVERY DEVICE MUST HAVE A UNIQUE NAME TO BE ACCESSED PROPERLY. So, while you may have duplicates in your alias device list, each one must have a unique alias name. This is a bit confusing until you use the app
  • When you have the two steps above completed, you will see a new menu item appear allowing you to define the aliases for the devices you chose in step 2. Please note that the interface does NOT clear after each addition or deletion of an alias. This is a limitation of SmartThings. So, be careful to ensure you change your parameters for each alias you create or delete.

Enjoy the new feature.