Version 2.3.6 of Ask Alexa
I am pleased to announce the 2.3.6 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 simple upgrade (Scenario 1 http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa#How_Do_I_Upgrade_Ask_Alexa)
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:
- Improved setup process This now cuts down the installation to less than 10 minutes with both the Lambda and Developers sites. Simply click the Settings>>Setup Variables and instead of constantly copying/pasting from multiple locations you copy the code given to you to Lambda, and then the JSON to the developer site and you are ready to start using the application. Power users can still manually install and maintain their respective sites as well, so this is not a step down! Please note, YOU are still in control of the application and maintain the Amazon pieces. I have no access to your information! I have started the documentation, but it is rough right now: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa#Single_Step_Interaction_Model
- Improvements to WebCoRE integration Many more users are using the xParam to send specialized commands to WebCoRE, essentially making WebCoRE voice capable. One limitation has been the ability (ironically) to send numbers from Ask Alexa to WebCoRe. Because of the way voice commands are used, numbers were used to designate a delay in execution. With this revision I allow you to choose between a delay (something that can happen on the WebCoRE side anyway) and passing that numeric value directly to WebCoRE, or send it as the xParam. This is an elegant solution that helped @avnergid control the volume of his Onkyo stereo and @tbam control his Tivo. Thanks to both of them for the suggestion! They can each post more about their integration if they would like. @GRClark, this is what you were waiting for as well
- Sample Utterances To support different ways to send items to WebCoRE a few new utterances have been added. his is a good opportunity to test the new setup process within the developer area setup! Otherwise, the utterances are here: https://github.com/MichaelStruck/SmartThingsPublic/blob/master/smartapps/michaelstruck/ask-alexa.src/Sample%20Utterances
For those with IDE integration with GitHub, simply update the repository and you will have the latest code for the SmartApp itself. It is recommended up update the utterances as there are some new ones available.
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 and a half 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