Version 2.3.9 of Ask Alexa
I am pleased to announce the 2.3.9 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 1, 2 and 3 http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa#Frequently_Asked_Questions_.28FAQs.29). Ask Alexa is part of the Community Installer written by @tonesto7. You can also upgrade your IDE code that way. However, you will need to upgrade your Lambda and Developer area as well.
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:
- Echo Speaker Identification Ask Alexa is now aware (and ability to identify) the Echo device in each room, which opens up a plethora of new options! Please read how this changes the way you could potentially use Ask Alea Rooms/Groups: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa_Rooms/Groups#Room_.22IN_HERE.22_Commanding
- Various fixes As I went through every area of my code I came across a few items that I would classify as bugs that I squashed
- Updated About Screen Not only can you see the associated speakers in the Rooms/Groups Extension, you can also see all of them in the About Screen.
- New Setup Section To prep for some major changes in how you install Ask Alexa I have moved some components around. Many of the setup items (invocation name, setup variables, security) are now under Settings>>Setup Ask Alexa. In addition, I moved (and updated the cheat sheet) to this area as well and improved the look of this area.Too much HTTP underlining before.
PIN restrictions Speaking of the security, I was reading through some of the Echosistant posts to see what users really liked so I could bring it over Ask Alexa and came across this: [DEPRECATED] EchoSistant Evolved ~ Amazon Echo's Only Assistant with Robust Scheduling and Flexible Reporting
Since I added restrictions to the personality playback I also added restrictions to PIN usage as well. Now you can choose What (lock, doors, modes etc) and other restrictions like what echo is being used, or who is at home, to control WHEN a PIN is implemented. Thanks to the Echosistant team for the idea (It was in their product over a year ago…so it is good to have it in Ask Alexa now).
- Better Setup Webpage The Setup Variables page now uses ‘iframes’ to take up less space on the screen for those long developer slots lists. This allow you to select all within a group instead of using the mouse to select each list. This also allows for easier ‘copy/paste’ from the setup page to the developer slots
Missing Routine Fix After a note from @sechen43 I was motivated to fix a long standing issue. Basically if you delete a routine or mode from SmartThings that was used in Ask Alexa you basically orphaned it, and it was difficult to remove. Now Ask Alexa recognizes this, and give you the option to remove the item from the list. Thanks for the motivation to finally fix this!!!
Nothing this time. For new developers…if you want to have your applications notify through Alexa, please reach out to me so we can work together on integrating your app with this feature.
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