[Deprecated] Ask Alexa 2.1.0

Announcing version 2.1.0 of Ask Alexa

Lambda code updated to 1.2.0a

Both the Intent and Sample Utterance files have changed as well.

This is a larger change with the SmartApp, Lambda code and the intent and utterances changingl. Please note that version numbers 2.0.9 and 1.1.8-1.1.9 (Lambda) have been skipped. It is always recommended that you update your slots to ensure you are capturing all of the available variables used within Ask Alexa.

YOU MUST install all areas of Ask Alexa, including the intent file and the utterances, along the smartapp code and the Lambda code for this upgrade to be successful!

Please note that this is a single SmartApp; it no longer has a parent/child code base.

The only issue encountered so far with this unified code is on Android mobile apps. If you are editing a macro, clicking “Done” will take you back to the mobile app and NOT the main Ask Alexa menu. This is NOT Ask Alexa related, but the mobile app itself; iOS does NOT appear to be affected by this. Either way, a ticket has been opened with SmartThing to address this. If you find this issue annoying, please open a ticket with SmartThings as well to increase visibility.

Other additions to this new version include:

  • Bug Fixes/Optimizations-This version focuses speed of some routines…overall, I was able to minimize the looping of some actions and brought the response time down about 1 second on some longer operations. I also moved some of the ‘translation’ needs (i.e. mph to miles per hour, etc) to the Lambda code from the SmartThings code to speed up processing as well. This may give you some very strange live logging output, but the Alexa output should sound correct.

  • Environmental Report - Lunar rise/set has been added, and the sunrise/sunset are now functions of the location you enter and not just the SmartThings hub location. As always, courtesy of @storageanarchy

  • Mode/Routine/SHM control- Instead of these functions being on or off, you can now choose which modes, routines, or SHM controls are accessible via Ask Alexa. For example, you may not want to be able to disarm the SHM with your voice but be able to set Arm (Stay)…you can now do that. This will require you to set up this feature even if you had it set up previously and change your slot lists in the developer site. Thanks @Michael_D for this suggestion.

  • PIN/Password Usage - Allowed for more granular control of what doors, locks (and door and lock groups), SHM, modes and routines require PINs. This option is no longer globally on/off. You will need to change your intent and utterance files to use this new option. Suggested by @Matthew_Freestone

  • Macro Continuation Commands - Now allows you to suppress the after-macro continuation commands (if enabled) on a per macro basis. This option will only be available if the global setting for continuation commands is on. Errors will still give the continuation option. Thanks @bamarayne!

  • Courtesy Responses - Based on the recent survey many of you completed, you can now choose how Alexa addresses you during the continued responses. This DOES NOT change the underlying action responses, however, any continuing commands now change based on your settings. Courtesy presents more “Thank You”s and “Please”s than that normal response. Next version will be Snarky, and then from there a more formal (Jarvis like) response. This also adds the ability to add a personal name to the additional commands. These are randomized so it doesn’t say it all of the time. In addition, you can use the text macro %people% to autopopulate the name depending on who is present. This WILL use all names of those set up and present, so this may not be the best solution for everyone.

  • Lambda Code - Added the “Courtesy” personality responses. These are randomized and can include your name in the response. Also many of the behind-the-scenes translate function have been moved to this code instead of being processed by SmartThings

  • AC Cooling-Added a key word “AC” that works like the cooling command for thermostats. You may now say “Alexa, tell SmartThings to set Thermostat AC to 67 degrees”. Thanks @Crizz6396 for the suggestion!


If you are using 2.0.0+, you simply need to update the SmartApp. Again, because of the changes it is advised to run through the entire setup to capture everything.

For those wishing to re-install, the instructions on the wiki have been updated:

The wiki for this app is here: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa

As always, you should also update your custom slots on the Amazon developer site when you have the app running. Nothing SHOULD change but it never hurts to refresh these every once in awhile.


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: https://askalexa.slack.com. 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.

  • 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 few 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 80+ 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.

Revisions are getting 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 donation to my PayPal account: https://www.paypal.me/mstruck . 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



Thanks! Update is complete.
One question, prior to the update and still afterwards my skill in the Alexa app has a green dev badge under it. Did I miss something in the setup?

Does is say “dev”? Then yes, that is normal…what that means is that you are the only one that can see it (it is not published). That is good…or else someone else might be able to control your house :slight_smile:

Ok, cool. I just didn’t remember seeing that the first time I set it up.

Amazon has changed their app store considerably since I first created this app…it is relatively brand new.

ah, that does make me feel a bit better. Since my memory is awful it’s actually nice when it’s not because I didn’t remember.

The great work continues! Very well done!!!


Works perfectly and much faster. Can you do the same thing you did with
"AC" and add “Heat”?

Unfortunately, by adding the pin/password option that function that disabled the functionality. I am looking to bring it back, but until then you must specify whether it is a mode, routine or SHM (I.e. tell smartthings to run xxxx routine. The other ‘hack’ option it to put the routine you want to run into a Control Macro (with a different name) and you can run it without a ‘specifier’.

I see you withdrew your question just now…did you get it to work?

Heat is already in there “Tell SmartThings to set Thermostat heat to 70 degrees”…Are you saying that doesn’t work for you? I just tested it on my system and seems to work.

I did get it working after reinstalling everything from scratch. I still had your original 1.0 version of the smart app in my smart apps. Cleared that out and reinstalled and the utterance I was talking about works now.

So you added SHParm by itself and that worked? Hmmm…strange I don’t have that in there, but I am adding it now…

Edit: Yeah…somehow I missed that…it is back in now…

Hey @MichaelS where is ‘thank you for nc %’ as follow up response coming from. I didn’t look, but Alexa keeps saying that.

Did you not add a name to your personalize section? You should never hear the %Nc% or %cN% that I put in…Before you go and change a lot of stuff let me know your setup as I am betting I missed a default setup that allows that to be heard. Looking at my code you might also get this if you put in %people% and don’t have the text variable set up. Also, what is the FULL Message you are hearing this in? Is it all instances or does it sometimes say your name and sometimes the %Nc%?

Check your settings, personalize and see what is there. Did you even choose a personality? I can’t see to reproduce this so please let me know how you have these set up.

Yeah, added that in everything seems fine now.

For anyone following along, the GitHub Utterance has been updated to fix this…Thanks @Michael_D for pointing this out.

You mean the optional personality name? No, I didn’t add one. I am on courtesy with no name. No people set up.

ok…I will test in that format and push out a fix if I can reproduce it.

Indeed there was one condition that was missing…No need to change the SmartApp…the Lambda code was missing it:


Updated the main topic to show this is at 1.2.0a