Version 2.3.8 of Ask Alexa
I am pleased to announce the 2.3.8 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#Frequently_Asked_Questions_.28FAQs.29). Simply upgrade your IDE code and you should be set! Also, Ask Alexa is part of the Community Installer written by @tonesto7. You can also upgrade that way. (See [BETA] Community SmartApp Installer)
PLEASE NOTE: Now that this app is rather stable (It is now 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:
- Room Occupancy Support-Expanded Working closely with @bangali and users of his Room occupancy DTH, I have added support for these in both the rooms/groups extension and the voice reports. Great work to bangali for creating this up-and-coming app! Please to be sure to update your voice report, rooms/group extension and the main application.
- More descriptive remove - I have had a chance to go through and updating some of the smaller features that haven’t seen attention in a while. One thing that I have always wanted to add is the custom remove statement (I learned about this from the Rachio Sprinkler SmartApp). Now I have. Not a big deal…just think it is cool to have custom dialog boxes :). For those developers interested in using this the syntax is: remove(”Button Text", “Dialog Text”,“Text for dialog window.”) (Interesting note…found out @tonesto7 actually wrote that Rachio SmartApp).
- Echo Device Identification While I haven’t officially added this feature in THIS release, I started adding some of the code to implement it. You will see some of it in the restrictions areas…but please note….This is NOT active yet.
- More functional playback options Building on the functionality that was in the device playback, I have added additional options to allow for commands to function but receive no playback. You can also completely disable Ask Alexa on a global bases with a variety of restrictions (including soon, which speaker). Unfortunately, I will need to update the Lamba code for the full functionality I want (i.e. the text of the output without the actual voice). This is coming when I support the full echo device identification above. Please note there are some circumstances Ask Alexa will respond to you. This will be fixed when I update the Lambda code.
- More Secure Installation Process As I announced last week, I finally ensured Ask-Alexa.com was SSL secure (https). In addition, in this version I updated the setup process to POST the unique application ID and token instead of GET. For those not familiar what this means, POST will NOT display this your information in your URL string and instead sends it to the Ask-Alexa server hidden. This is important if you are on a shared computer. Thanks to @secureIT for pointing out these security items that were easy to fix.
- Updated Lock Status It has been a long time since I looked at the status, but locks can be in an unknown state (basically between locked and unlocked). While Ask Alexa handled this with the current status, I updated the code to give you a little bit more intervention that manual intervention might be necessary to resolve the issue.
As mentioned above, Ask Alexa is compatible with is the Room Occupancy app from Bangali!
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.
You can also now use the Community Installer (Free Marketplace) to install the IDE portion of this app. See more information here: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Community_Installer_(Free_Marketplace)
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