Version 2.3.3 of Ask Alexa
I am pleased to announce the 2.3.3 version of Ask Alexa! In this version I continue (along with help from the community) to evolve the application to allow more conversational syntax, along with adding more functionality for existing and new devices. And, now support for Alexa Routines!
This will be a simple upgrade…only the main app, the voice reports, rooms/groups and message queue IDE code has changed…everything else (including the Lambda code) can remain the same. As always, I DO recommend to update your developer slots as new functionality is enabled in this version.
PLEASE NOTE: Now that this app is rather stable (It is now almost 2 years old!) now I will be updating it less frequently except for bugs and new features. I am waiting for Amazon to release their ‘push’ notifications where some amazing stuff will happen with this app. Until then, if you do have a great feature idea for this app, just let me know.
Other additions to this new version include:
Bug Fixes - The normal things…silly misspellings, logic errors, bug reports.
Code Optimization - Always finding better ways to do things in a shorter about of code.
Alexa Virtual Switch Creator While not officially part of Ask Alexa, I have moved this to ‘release status’. You can now create virtual switches without having to go to the IDE and use these virtual switches with Ask Alexa macros and the native Alexa Routines. This bring NON-INVOCATION activities to your Alexa experience. You can get this app here: [RELEASE] Alexa Virtual Switch Creator
Voice Reports (updated to 1.0.7) Updated the voice reports to include lux as a component of the reports (thanks @joelw135 for the suggestion) along with window shade reports (thanks to @Kneemuh). Also thanks to @runner1717 for the last minute obscure bug troubleshooting!
Rooms/Groups Extension (updated to 1.0.2) Based on a suggestion from @cmatthew I added a summary option for the Rooms/Groups to simply tell you when not all of the lights are on or off in a room without going into every switch status. Great suggestion!
Message Queue (updated to 1.0.7) A small fix to reduce the clutter in the Live Logging…The system was sending a message every time it looked for messages to purge instead of sending WHEN a purge was possible. Cuts down on Live Logging messages that were unnecessary.
Removal of Memory Slots for Speakers With Sonos releasing a dedicated skill recently, the functionality of playing music from the cache of played songs became redundant in Ask Alexa. As such, I removed the code as it was ‘clunky’ and really wasn’t supported very well by SmartThings. You can STILL use commands such as play, mute, increase/decrease volume as these commands work with other speakers such as Samsung.
Macros run with trigger With the Routines function now in Alexa natively, there are certain situations where you can build NON INVOCATION commands that can trigger certain things in SmartThings. Ask Alexa supports this by allowing a virtual or real switch to trigger an Ask Alexa macro. This can be VERY powerful and has replaced about 50% of my voice commands where I would normally say “Alexa, Ask SmartThings…” and instead just say “Alexa….” and the command. This will continue to get more powerful with custom responses from Alexa and I can expand this for other extensions as well in the future. I have update the documentation with an example here: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa#Good_Night_Weekdays.2FWeekends_.28Native.2C_Non-Invocation.29
Partner Announcements None this time…we are up to 19 partners!
For those with IDE integration with GitHub, simply update the repository and you will have the latest code for the SmartApp itself. However, for ALL aspects of the application follow the original instructions for installation to ensure you get everything updated properly:
The wiki for this app is here: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa
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. See the new Message Queue functions for similar functionality with Big Talker!
- 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 year 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 over a year creating this document, I am open to it being improved; I know there are probably still 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. You may want to blur that out.
As mentioned above, revisions will be less and less now. And with the code base now unified, I expect less and less additions…especially as I partner with other application developers to ensure their strengths can be brought into the notification model of Ask Alexa . Any and all suggestions are still on the table for addition.
To prep for the next version, be sure to take some good notes about any weather voice reports you have set up…I will be moving the weather piece to it own extension app. However, it will still be able to work in any voice report you have set up. Then, the fun begins with addition another extension after the next one!
As always, I appreciate any public accolades or even donations 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