[DEPRECATED] Ask Alexa 2.3.4

Version 2.3.4 of Ask Alexa

I am pleased to announce the 2.3.4 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.

This app is used for those who are not happy with simply with simply saying “Alexa, turn on the living room”. If you are curious about the STATUS of a light, or run a very complex set of instructions (or even use a little bit of logic to choose what runs), then this program is for you. While the thread is long, I recommend you start with the first paragraph here ([RELEASE] Ask Alexa).

This will be a complex upgrade (Scenario 2 and 3 http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa#Frequently_Asked_Questions_.28FAQs.29)

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:

  • Compound Commands Taking Ask Alexa to even a higher level, you can now use compound commands in certain circumstances. To use these, upgrade your IDE code, some aspects of the Amazon developer page(specifically, Intents and Utterances) along with the Lambda code (be sure to back up your STToken and STAppID). To use compound commands is as easy; any command you can do as a single command (device action or status), run a macro, etc is available to combine together. This DOES make your commands wordy, which increases the change of Alexa misunderstanding you, but it is very convenient when it does here you correctly. If you find that the compound commands are too cumbersome, if you don’t use them, or Alexa gets confused more often, you can turn off the compound commands from the SETTINGS area.

Partner Announcements
None today…there are over 19 integrations through other developers’ apps…give them a try!

For those with IDE integration with GitHub, simply update the repository and you will have the latest code for the SmartApp itself. However, your lambda code, intents and utterances should be upgraded as well.

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.

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


Here is a high level set of instructions for upgrading to 2.3.4. If you had a version before 2.3.3, you should really follow the instructions for a full installation here: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa

Here are the steps to upgrade from 2.3.3:
First, copy your old Lambda code to a note pad and keep is safe. Then replace it with this:

Then get your Oauth stuff from the old code and replace lines 46,47, and 48 in the new code.

Next, your IDE code:

Save and Publish. If you have your IDE connected to my GitHub, simply upgrade your code using that method.

Finally, the next part needs to be done correctly…first, you will update your intents on the Amazon developer page:

DO NOT save yet…

Then update your utterances:

Hit save at the bottom of the screen…there should be NO errors that come up…now, the tricky part…test everything as it is (not compound commands yet)…then turn on the compound commands on the Settings page and do something like “Alexa, tell SmartThings to turn on {device} and turn off {device}".

Please note that compound commands are VERY wordy, and as such, Alexa DOES get confused easily on what you are saying. Please check your native Amazon app if you have an error to ensure she heard you correctly. In addition, before filing a bug report, test the exact wording via the Developer’s simulator. If you still find an issue, be sure to give me the EXACT wording you used (including “a”, "the’, etc) that you could not get to work. 99% of the time this will be an utterance, which is easily fixed and can benefit the entire community if you provide this information.



I have updated the schedules app to 1.0.3c for a small issue identified by @ericcarty

Just update via the IDE for this very unique use case issue.


I would suggest you add a short two or three sentence intro paragraph explaining the purpose of this smartapp for people who are brand new to the whole idea and might just find it from one of the quick browse lists. You can add a read more link into the full documentation, but at least that would make it a little less overwhelming. :sunglasses:

Great idea as always. I will do a small update later tonight or tomorrow. Thanks for the suggestion.

1 Like

Got the paragraph added…I will add this to every new version!

Alexa released a new notification system via Skills. Any plans to integrate it here…?
Instead of asking for a device status…Alexa flashes when there is a new notification.



Amazon opened it up to a few folks, but it is not released to the general public. Since Ask Alexa has each user build a skill, you would have to have the same settings as I do to enable the notifications in your account.

They say they will do this next quarter, and Ask Alexa will be ready for it when it does.