[Depricated]Ask Alexa 2.1.3

Announcing version 2.1.3a of Ask Alexa

The SmartApp, utterances and the Lambda code has changed in this release. It is always recommended that you update your Amazon developer slots after an upgrade to ensure you are capturing all of the available variables used within Ask Alexa.

PLEASE NOTE: Going forward I will be looking at incremental increases to optimize the code, fix bugs, and increase response speed…No need to weekly updates to do that.

Other additions to this new version include:

  • Bug Fixes - The normal things…silly misspellings, logic errors, bug reports.

  • Label - If you have a need to change the name of the App, you can now do this via Settings->Advanced section (suggested by @bamarayne)

  • Major Optimization - Shortened the code considerably…if you are able to do something with the previous version and can no longer do it with this version, please alert me to what aspect of the app changed. The positive side of this optimization is that I ‘loosen’ some of the filters of the commands that in the past might have denied because of a misunderstanding on Alexa’s end. For example, let’s say you wanted to adjust the heating setpoint, but it hear “heats”…normally it would say it didn’t understand your command …now, depending on the context of the other words around it, it still might pick up that you meant “heat” and properly execute the commands. This is not universal and only applies to sub commands to devices, not the device or macro names.

  • Lambda Code - A few additional items were put into the translation matrix.

  • MyEcobee Tips - Building upon the Ecobee custom device commands of last revision, @yvesracine has added his Ecobee device type handler commands “Get Tips”. This will give you customized tips based on your thermostat usage and the environmental variables. See [RELEASE] Resilient - My Ecobee Device & ecosystem v5 - The smartest thermostat under ST with new "comfort tips" features and Unique Integration with Echo/Ask Alexa for more information.

  • Utterances - To support the MyEcobee tips above, please ensure you update your utterances. With this, also ensure you update your developer slots if you use this functionality.

  • Voice reporting-Presence sensors - Was presented a good use case from @eibyer to include “not present” and “present” only options into the presence report for even more customized reporting. Also took this opportunity to ‘promote’ the presence sensors as a main voice report and give it additional summary options.

  • Message Queue - Unfortunately, one of the limitations of the Alexa is that it can not respond to inputs outside of voice. For example, you might want Alexa to ‘wake up’ and tell you when there is water on the floor, or motion in the basement. This is not possible currently. However, I have put in a ‘message queue’ so other apps to send their outputs to the queue for playback when you wake Alexa…So, let’s say you want CoRE to send you a message when something has happened….CoRE will send this to the message queue, and the next time you do anything with your Alexa device, it will tell you that you have messages waiting. So far, apps like Device Monitor (@erocm1231), CoRE(@ady624) and Nest Manager(@tonesto7) already support or have mentioned that they will support this functionality! Tell your favorite developer that you want them to support this feature! To use these, ensure you have the slots populated after you turn on this feature (settings) and say “Alexa, tell SmartThings to play messages” or “Alexa, tell SmartThings to delete messages”

If you are interested in integrating with Ask Alexa, or you want the developer of another app to send messages to Ask Alexa, have them read this:


Please note that there is also the option to allow Apps to remove messages from the queue. This might be a situation where the latest alert is the most important instead of all activity on a device. Again, work with you SmartApp developer to implement this feature.


Because of the new functionality in this revision it is advised to run through the entire setup to capture everything….specifically the developer slots.

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


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. The closest thing we have to on-demand messages is the new Message Queue.

  • 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 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 120+ 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.

As mentioned above, revisions will be less and less as I mature this product…especially as we integrate CoRE more to do some of the heavy lifting of larger condition-base automations and the message queue to allow other apps to interface with Ask Alexa…However, 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



If you updated to 2.1.3, please just update the SmartApp code…I found a small issue with line 835 (if you get this in your live logging). Thanks to @yvesracine for letting me know.

We are now at 2.1.3a


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How do you delete the messages in the cue?

Personally, I would say “Alexa, tell smartthings to delete messages”…I will put that in the documentation (hint…it is relady in there)…http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa#Message_Queue_Options

I tried that… Hmmmmmm

do you have messages in your queue? did you add the new items to your developer slots?

Yes, I completely updated everything. It tells me there are messages, it plays the messages. But it won’t delete them.

All of the slots…there new delete commands are in the LIST_OF_OPERATORS

And you got me! No, I did not update all of the slots…

Ugh, rookie mistake. Thanks.

:D…glad you got it.

So, what are you using with the message queue?

I only have one set up right now, for testing.

My wife leaves the bedroom fans on, so every hour a piston fires and if the fans are on it sends a message.

Works great.

I’m just working through a couple of unique issues…

7 installs of CoRE and 5 installs of askAlexa. I am figuring how to get a specific message to a specific que.

And, I’m trying to get the piston to delete the messages.

You may want to check with Adrian…deleting messages require both the AppID and MessageID (value and unit parameters) to be exactly the same as what was sent…if either of those are missing the delete will not work. And I am not sure Adrian was clear on this implementation and so he may need to do an adjust the code.

Ok, I’ll look into that.

Is they a way to play only the unheard messages?

Nope…all or nothing…and I think that is best…this was not put in to have 100 consistent messages…this is really for alerts that need visibility…when Amazon adds the messages on the fly I will probably have the option of adding those to the queue well (in case an alert comes in and you aren’t around to hear it).


Normally I always update everything. But for done reason, last night I forgot. Maybe cause it was 2am?

Understood :slight_smile: Good luck!

Bugger, I think I missed this part too! Thanks for reminding me!

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So if I pull my ‘setup variables’ I get the following:



But it doesn’t look like there are any new commands in there unless I am mistaken?

I updated:

  • AskAlexa SmartApp code
  • Node.js Lambda code
  • Sample utterances

My intents seem to be the same so didn’t update, perhaps that was my mistake?

You have to turn on the message queue in the settings menu to get those options.

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Ok, got it updated and working now…

I also figured out how to delete from the CoRE Piston.

When you add the message, in the Unit section do this {name of the unit} include the curly brackets
When you delete the message, in the Unit section type the exact same name with the curly brackets.