SmartThings Community

[RELEASE] Ask Alexa

(Micheal ) #4266

If you are using Ask Alexa this is certainly possible. It sounds like you didn’t update your Developer Site AFTER you added the ‘bedtime’ routine to your app. You have to ‘teach’ Ask Alexa your environment, and you do that by updating the JSON in the developer area.

Updating the list of nouns and verbs is easy and really just a couple steps. This is outlined here:

However, to confirm…everything else works on Ask Alexa? If you say “Alexa, open Smart Things” what does it say?


Everything else works with Ask Alexa. Well, at least what I have tried.

So I need to go grab the JSON, copy or download it, then update it at the developer site, save & build, then I should be good?

Whenever I create a new routine, I have to do this each time?

Appreciate the quick response!

Edit: Followed the link and then a few more, got it working. Thank you!

(Micheal ) #4268

Glad you got it working! To answer your question, while a pain you do have to update the vocabulary when you make changes. However, once you set it up you don’t have to change it…soon the app will update without the hassle of going to the developer site as much!

(Markus) #4269

Hello Michael, I like your app really much and thinking of translate it to german. At the moment my Echos are all setup in german language and therefore the pronounciation of the english senteces of Ask Alexa are quiet odd.
Do you have any tip on how to translate Ask Alexa and nevertheless make sure not to have that much trouble during an update? I also would like to provide the translation files to other users.

(Micheal ) #4270

I think there is probably one place to start and that is the Lambda file. The ‘personality’ pieces are in there. If you translate that I can keep it up-to-date and make it available for folks. From there we should do the IDE file, but I have been thinking of creating a external ‘language’ file for the app, but it will probably be in a future version as it changes the whole app.

(Markus) #4271

That sounds good.
Can I take the utterances sample file or should it be the devcode file?

(Micheal ) #4272

The utterance file is no longer valid as Amazon has changed the inputting method. That now exists in teh JSON file. Which, to be honest, is a good point…you would have to change that as well…hmmm…Not sure this would be worth it as you would still need to speak in English to get these. If you want to translate all 3000 likes of the JSON output you can, but I will be unable to keep that up as file long term.

(Adam Hawk) #4273


I just updated Ask Alexa for the first time using the new JSON method and the personalized Lamda code. As far as I can tell, all went well.

However, I not something odd in that when I accessed the page listings my developer slots, I saw a warnings about my Ecobee sleep mode being duplicated. This is odd because I only have one mode called sleep.

Does anyone know why I would be seeing that warning?

I have used 2 different DtHs for my Ecobee, the standard one and a custom one, but to my knowledge, the standard one is completely removed at this point.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

(Micheal ) #4274

Are you using the latest version? PM me, sending me the setup variables page and I THINK I know what might be going on but need to look at your JSON output.

(Adam Hawk) #4275

Thanks. I’ll be happy to send the info along. I think I may I spoken too soon about things working otherwise.

Right now, anything I say “Ask SmartThings about…” I just get the “bong bong” response from Alexa…

(Micheal ) #4276

That could mean you didn’t build the skill after saving the JSON. The other cause of that is that you didn’t get ALL of the data in there (there should be close to or over 3000 lines). Finally, if you click ‘Test’ at the top of the page (Developer’s section) that MAY be disabled.

(Adam Hawk) #4277

Thanks. I know I definitely built the skill after adding the JSON - and got no errors.

I haven’t checked yet for the complete file, but it didn’t seem like 3000 lines.

(Micheal ) #4278

I have seen this before where you must scroll within the JSON list after pasting for everything to show. If you see your invocation name at the very bottom it should be close to 3000 steps. Also, the variables page you sent me was invalid.

(Micheal ) #4281

Happy Earth Day this weekend! While Earth Day was not the original reason I got SmartThings, I was brought up as a child to turn off lights when I left a room. Unfortunately, not everyone was taught that, and nothing would stress me out more than thinking I left a light on when I left home for the day, which then grew to “did I leave the garage door open” or “Is the heat on”, etc. So, 3 years later every door has a sensor and every light can be controlled remotely along with cameras to ensure everything is good at a home.

Anyway, how far we have come from just 3 years ago. I have Alexa do most of the voice actions and automations in my house, and now there is This is rather cool in that it is an easy way for users to create their own basic skills to give custom responses within their household. While this is not so much for home automation, it CAN be useful to real-estate agents, baby sitters, or even AirBNB guests to allow people to ask Alexa questions specific to a household.

As for Ask Alexa, I continue to work diligently on the upgrades. I recently helped a few folks get it installed and found opportunities to improve the documentation. While it is difficult without going to SmartThings to get a full user count, I can see 10 to 100 unique taps (users) on the Setup Variables per week, so people are still installing it! For an app that is two years old I feel rather proud that folks still find new ways of using it!

Enjoy the weekend!

(Joel W) #4282

There are some bugs in blueprint. Not necessarily Amazons. I was playing around and created a skill to give me phone numbers when I ask “Alexa what is Dr. Smith’s phone number” First if you put the response in numeric like “123634756” it gives you a numeric response as “twelve thousand six hundred” you get the idea. So you have to spell it out as “one two three six three four seven five six”. That is one problem. The other sometimes with a skill like this Alexa doesn’t know if it is a skill so it will look for a number in the Internet. So if there is a Dr. Smith in the skill and a Dr. Smith on the internet it will read the Internet number first, and all the time. Very frustrating. But the Blueprint is a great idea, but not for all ideas.

(Micheal ) #4283

That is not so much a bug as kind of how it works. If you use the simulator it does the same thing (you have to type in the words for the numbers). But agreed…this is great for basic usage, but for a REAL custom experience you need to write a custom skill.

(Morgan) #4284

I’m sorry if this has been answered, but i’ve been using Ask Alexa for a while, and now there is the community installer. Does that setup all of the Amazon variables as well, or is it just installing the apps in Smart Things?

What do i need to do to migrate to that, or is there any benefit if i’ve set up everything manually already?


(Micheal ) #4285

No…the Community installer ONLY does the IDE pieces. There is a separate effort to automate the Lambda and Developer’s area.

If you are up and running, no action is required for you.

(Micheal ) #4286

Happy Friday….Some of you have commented on this recent news:

What does this mean? Well, it is hard to say without seeing it operate, but at a very high level it almost feels it will keep track of some of the ‘subjects ‘ you have referenced in the past and be able to recall them. Similar to “Who is the actor in Mission Impossible” and then saying “How old is he” Where HE = Tom Cruise…so a bit more of perceived intelligence on Alexa’s part. Again, this is forward looking as a goal from the folks at Amazon. And as we all know, aspirational goals sometimes don’t mesh well with reality or the final product. Either way, we will see and it will be interesting if it does succeed.

On the Ask Alexa side, I have been tinkering in my head with more conversational modes. While you can do this already with new utterances and specifically designed Voice Reports, I also want to create a ‘frictionless’ experience that will allow you to ask questions naturally and (more importantly) get more human responses than you do now. Nothing to share yet, but one of my ‘aspirational’ goals as well.

Have a good weekend!

(Micheal ) #4287

Happy Friday…

Some of you have privately asked me if everything is ok as I have not been rolling out updates as fast as I have in the past. First, everything is great! I actually have a full time job as a technology manager and there are a lot of projects that are going on, along with me finalizing my new vacation condo in Seattle and actually PLANNING on taking a vacation, so I have been ‘distracted’ to say the least. However, things are progressing well, and outside of updating Ask Alexa I have also started a new extension for use with Ask Alexa. Nothing to share yet, but while I don’t think it will be earth-shattering, it will bring some ease-of-use to the Alexa platform. More to come on that.

Bottom line, I will probably be a little bit ‘thin’ during the summer with work and vacations. However, I am still here, happy, healthy and still plugging away!