[Depricated] Ask Alexa 2.1.7

Announcing version 2.1.7 of Ask Alexa

The SmartApp has only changed in this release. However, 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. Upgrading is simple…just update the code in the IDE…that is it!

PLEASE NOTE: Now that this is rather stable now and I may not update it further unless some bugs are found. I am waiting to see if Google releases integration APIs for their new Google Home, and for Amazon to release their ‘push’ notifications. If you do have a great feature idea for this app, however, just let me know.

Additions to this new version include:

  • Bug Fixes - The normal things…silly misspellings, logic errors, bug reports. Found a few from the prior release when I optimized the code
  • Code Optimization - Always finding better ways to do things in a shorter about of code.
  • Flash Briefing Support - Thanks to @N8XD for the heads up on the Alexa Flash Briefing capability just released by Amazon. You WILL need to create a rather simple skill (no slots, intents or utterances or Lambda code) that will give you access to certain voice macros or macro groups during the Alexa flash briefings. Please see here for instructions specific to the Flash Briefing: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa#Set_Up_The_Flash_Briefing_Skill
  • Control Macro Output Audio - A new output for Control Macros, this simply allows text-to-speech (TTS) to be output to supported speakers or voice synthesis devices upon triggering the macro. Idea from @bamarayne.
  • More colors for the control macro colored lights-Allows for more colors to be selected when you choose to work with colored lights in your control macros. Contribution by @jt323bd. Individual devices and device groups are still limited to the most used colors (so you don’t have to memorize 100 colors).

Because of the new functionality in this revision it is advised to run through the entire setup to capture everything….specifically the developer apps.
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. See the new Message Queue functions for similar functionality.
  • 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 now. And with the code base now unified, I expect less and less additions…especially as we integrate CoRE more to do some of the heavy lifting of larger condition-base automations… 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


very nice job!

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I have a weird bug. I have a driveway gate that I initially setup as a garage door device type, than switched it to a generic open/close switch. Ask Alexa still thinks I have the garage door type and complains about a duplicate device when I add the current open/close sensor device type. But that old garage device doesn’t show up in my device list or in the Ask Alexa app under Doors/Windows/Locks. Any ideas to fix?

I would say go into your Amazon Developer account and open up your Ask Alexa project so you can update your Custom Slot Types (On the Interaction Model page).

If you changed the device you may need to change the Device Type List and List of Devices, possibly the List of Params and List of Operators. Better to update everything though.

And the hits keep coming. Great job man. Love seeing continual updates to this!

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I think @diehllane covered it…You will want to make sure you UNSELECT the device from the garage door section and SELECT it in the open/close sensor area.

Let me know if that helps or we need to troubleshoot this further.

Let me try and clarify. It’s no longer a door type in my ST “Things” list or the Ask Alexa Door/Windows/Locks list. It only shows up under “Switches”. If I don’t select “Gate” then there is no Gate under “LIST_OF_DEVICES” but as soon as I select Gate under switches, Ask Alexa gives me the duplicate device warning, but there is still only one “Gate” under “LIST_OF_DEVICES”

Does that make sense?

Kind of…That means “Gate” it used elsewhere in the app…

Yeah that was my thought too, but it doesn’t show up anywhere else. And it only shows up one time on the device list despite the smart app thinking it’s in there twice and the code itself not responding because it thinks it’s a duplicate. Changing the device type seems to have gotten the code out of sync.

It’s. it a critical issue for me, I fire it from inside a ST routine, but just thought it’d be nice for me/you to find a way to clean it up.

Trust me…it is duplicated in a couple places…If it is an open close sensor it should not show up in switches…

Can you send some screen shots?

Did you make any progress on this? If you are worried about sending private information in screen shots just PM me and we can work through it.

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Hi MichaelS, I’m trying to do some stuff with Logitech Harmony Hubs. (I’ve got 3 so far, plan to add at least 2 more.) The only thing is Harmony activity’s show up under the ‘switches’ options in Macros, but the actual harmony hub objects themselves don’t show up. The main reason why that’s important is the way you power off all your AV equipment is to send a ‘turn off’ command to the Logitech harmony hub unit itself. Any way we can get those to show up in the switches list as well?

What I’m trying to do is setup a voice macro where we can say ‘Alexa, tell Smartthings to turn off master bedroom tv in one hour.’ Essentially doing a sleep timer function. Our bedroom has a projector that projects onto the ceiling, and all audio goes through a receiver. We’ve been using the projector timer function but that’s irritating as it stays set so the next day when watching tv it will turn off, and even when it turns off the receiver doesn’t and so you will still have sound from the show playing via Kodi on the FireTV keeps going, etc. So this will be the best solution.


Are there any other apps that utilize these devices as you desire? I ask as I don’t have any of these devices, so I don’t know how they show up in the SmartThings app. If they appear as a device, I can certainly get them into Ask Alexa…I just don’t know how they interface or appear to the ST app. And to be clear, the activities show up as switches, but those won’t give you what you need? Are these items accessible via an internal IP address? There is a way to do this with a control macro, but again, I have no idea how these items interface with ST.

I know @JDRoberts mentioned Harmony devices in the past…maybe he knows…

Harmony is weird because you do everything as activities.

There should be an activity automatically created by your hub/remote called “power off.” That is the same as the “off” button on the button remote. It just turns off any entertainment activities that are running.

I don’t know what happens now. In the past, SmartThings integration did not create a button for that activity and that caused some issues for people.

You can still get to it through IFTTT if it’s not available through SmartThings. Which is kind of a roundabout way of doing things but shouldn’t be a big deal for an off situation.

If you want to keep the language natural you can create a virtual switch in SmartThings and set up an IFTTT recipe so that turning that switch off then triggers the harmony channel to turn on the power off activity.

If you do it that way you have to add turning that virtual switch on to every harmony activity you have so that it will be on and then you can turn off. Need to put it inside the harmony activities so that if anybody turns the harmony on in some other way the switch will still be in the right position for when you then use echo.

There’s probably a way to do this without IFTTT, but now you know what you’re looking for. An activity that will be called “power off.”

Hmmm…that being said I see a few ways to do what @Matthew_Freestone wants to do…see if the switch is actually present and use that…second, make a call to IFTTT using a virtual switch that then (domino effect) activates the switch through IFTTT.

Bottom line, if there is not native integration with ST then it will be difficult to get anything to activate.

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There is a device added to smart things for the off, and it isn’t an activity, it is the name of the harmony hub itself and you can always send it an off command, even if it wasn’t ‘on.’ but it doesn’t show up in the list of switches in the app but does show up as a thing.

Reporting a bug:

When I add my Garage Door to “Door Controls To Report Their Status…” the device is spelled out rather than said as a word. When I add the Garage Door to “Doors/Windows Sensors to Report Their Status…” its spoken correctly:

Hi Matthew,

I use the HA bridge from http://bwssystems.com/ - this allows you to create custom “switches” for devices and activities that work in SmartThings and are visible in AskAlexa. I can even change the TV channel using the Echo!


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Hi BristolBaz, thanks for the reply. Would you mind telling me how you go it to work for changing channels via Alexa? I am EXTREMELY interested in that. How about changing volume via Alexa/Harmony Hub?

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Hi Matthew,

I just create a virtual button in HA Bridge and call it “B B C 1”. I ask Alexa, “Turn on BBC 1” and it sends the commands to switch to channel 101 via the harmony.

These are the device commands sent from the bridge:


You can add any button you have available on harmony to the bridge so it should be possible to add volume up/down etc.