SmartThings Community

[RELEASE] Ask Alexa

(Micheal ) #4328

Sounds good…let me know if you find something you need in the app. If it can’t be done currently, we can work together on how to add the features in.

(Micheal ) #4329

Happy Friday,

As I start a period of ‘quiet time’ (on the forums here…vacation time!) I wanted to leave you with this:

I find this interesting. Not so much for what happened…I think we all have feared this type of thing COULD happen, but I am struck by the fact that Amazon was easily able to see it happen. And, in an era of everyone blaming everyone else or not admitting fault, that Amazon readily admitted what happened. While that opens them up to liability, it is refreshing when someone (or company) admits and takes responsibility for what happens with their devices.

Fortunately, Ask Alexa is JUST a control mechanism for your home, but never forget that the underlying infrastructure IS run by a company and that things do happen that could make your information (or what you say) available to others.

Just saying….

Before I end today, I want to publicly acknowledge Tim Slagle (@tslagle13) Tim will be leaving SmartThings (or may have already left). He has been a constant source of encouragement and advocacy for the community and for me personally. He was the first person I collaborated with on app, creating the ‘Lighting Director’ some of you still use today. Thank you Tim for your hard work and dedication to the community. You will be missed!

(Micheal ) #4330

Happy Friday!

Nothing to report this week since I am on vacation. Keep those suggestions coming for updates to Ask Alexa! I have been working behind the scenes on little enhancements that keep me using the app more effectively, and hope they benefit you all too!

I will be out for the next couple weeks, but as always, if anyone has any issues or questions, I can answer them!

In the mean time, I found this interesting:

(HousePanel Author) #4331

Hey Michael,

I finally got around to up updating to your latest AskAlexa version. I last installed it ages ago when you had to manually populate the slots and do a bunch of other stuff, so I was anticipating a long afternoon since my sensor set has grown significantly. To my delightful surprise you have made it so much easier with the json file download to do this.Your wiki on thingsthataresmart is the gold standard for how to document a complex application. You are giving me inspiration for updating the documentation for HousePanel which gets at best a C- compared with your awesome summary. I just had to write as a fellow code slinger to congratulate and thank you for a job well done. This is a great piece of work.

(HousePanel Author) #4332

I second that!! Tim @tslagle13 - you inspired so many of us, me included. Your fingerprint will be all over ST for years to come. We’ll miss you man.

(Okarcheboy) #4333

I’m relatively new to this ecosystem.

I’ve dove in pretty quick and have most everything working as I like. Love this SmartApp.

The one thing I haven’t managed to figure out is getting messages from the message queue to play on my Bose Soundtouch speakers. I have both a Soundbar Soundtouch 300 and a Soundtouch 10 speaker.

When the macro runs it puts the report messages into the queue and I can hear the volume adjust but I don’t hear message play.

I am using the default queue and have read in this thread I need to create a custom queue and will do that but are there any other suggestions?


(Micheal ) #4334

First, thank you for the kind words! Really appreciated!

I use the message queue regularly to send messages all over my house, but I have the Sonos system. Is the BOSE system compatible with the TTS? In other words, can OTHER apps output to the speakers? I would also recommend you watch the live logging to ensure you aren’t receiving an error message, which would halt the speakers from outputting.

(Ty Tysinger) #4335


First of all thank you for your contribution to the Smart Things community!

I am a new SmartThings user and am nearly done with installation. When I get to the part to install the Amazon Developer code and use the link in the app (but put in my browser) and click the buttons for “Display Developer JSOD code” (or download) I am getting an Internal Server error. Id the link down or have I messed up part of the install? I have searched on the net for anyone having the same issue and could not find anyone!

(Micheal ) #4336

Thanks for the kind words.

There seems to be something wrong with the hosting service I use…I am looking into it. I will post here when I see it working again.

(Micheal ) #4337

Ok…I upgraded the IDE code for Ask Alexa to 2.3.9e…I basically changed the location of the files as my hosting service is no longer liking the ‘cgi-bin’ folder they were in before.

I recommend upgrading and then seeing if that work. Please report back here with your results.

Thanks for bring this to my attention.

(Okarcheboy) #4338

Thank you for the extremely quick response.

To answer your questions:

The Bose 10 does support TTS. A number of people in this thread comment on its capablities. Which speakers to get for easiest TTS set-up with SmartThings?

So I do not, at present, have another app that uses TTS. However, I can sent alerts from Alexa to this same speaker “Master Bedroom” based on intrusion detection etc.

I will try and get another app that uses TTS installed for testing

FYI: I do find errors in live logging. Here is a snippet. This same error happens 3 times in the logging.

c80f6554-5e19-4ca1-8189-e759608e333e 8:49:55 PM: debug New message added to primary message queue from: Ask Alexa Voice Report, ‘Report Check Door Status’
3b59459d-a617-4d61-88b3-359732f83574 8:49:55 PM: error groovy.lang.MissingPropertyException: No such property: name for class: java.lang.String @line 1440 (myPlaySoundAndTrack)
3b59459d-a617-4d61-88b3-359732f83574 8:49:55 PM: trace myPlayTrackAndRestore: Master Bedroom Speaker : (, 2, null)
3b59459d-a617-4d61-88b3-359732f83574 8:49:55 PM: trace myPlaySoundAndTrack: Master Bedroom Speaker : (, 2,, null)
3b59459d-a617-4d61-88b3-359732f83574 8:49:55 PM: trace playSoundAndTrack:(, 2,, null)
3b59459d-a617-4d61-88b3-359732f83574 8:49:55 PM: debug onAction(volume, 40)

Please let me know of any other information you may need and thank you again for your assistance.

(Micheal ) #4339

When getting stuff from the Live Logging it is probably better to screenshot it. As for the bolded line, that doesn’t appear to be from Ask Alexa (hence the recommendation for a screenshot). Line 1440 in my code is something completely unrelated to the to the speakers. If I am reading the rest of the lines correctly, everything is happening the way it should.

PM me with your screenshots and we can work together to get this working after you test another app to see if it plays TTS.

(Micheal ) #4340

Happy Friday!

I am back from vacation, but still busy in the ‘real world’ with my job. I haven’t given much time to Ask Alexa lately, but it is still being installed on a rather consistent (and surprising) basis. I am rather pleased about this.

One item that we made apparent to me while on vacation is how ‘magical’ all of this voice stuff is to those ‘uninitiated’…in other words, for me to have a light go on, or a report about the house being heard is nothing to me. For those that have not seen this before, they are simply amazed at how this stuff works. When I told them that some of this stuff comes from an app that I wrote, they are even more amazed that the ‘average’ person has the ability to make these things happen.

I reflect on this as there is still a HUGE market for just the features that Alexa (and Ask Alexa) currently do.

In other news, GE apparently released some new ZWave plus dimmers. Some with non-tactile (i.e. touch like an iPhone).

Pretty nice that they are not giving up the market and that the IoT industry keeps moving along. I think Alexa is one of the catalysts for this. I am starting to think the IoT won’t be a ‘big bang’ but a slow progression toward home automation in every new home, reaching a point of critical mass in the future.

Oh what a great time to be alive!

(Micheal ) #4341

Happy Friday!

A few interesting items for this week. Ironically, when I was searching last week for the link to the new GE capacitive switches, I came across these:


While not yet 100% compatible with native SmartThings (the motion sensor part integrated with the switch) I was able to find a custom DTH for them. In speaking to the author (who has since moved on to another home automation platform), I will be taking ownership of the DTHs going forward. I have already made some changes to the interface and have optimized the code a bit for my own style.

I really like these devices; while a custom DTH can never run locally in programs like Smart Lighting, because of the design of these switches, you get local performance from the motion sensor affecting the light. While this is an optional configuration within the switch (and something that can be changed via the DTH), it works well for my environment and actually replaced a couple of my webCore pistons. Less complexity is ALWAYS better. And, because of the configuration, even if the hub or cloud is down, the lights still come on when I enter a room.

I am also adding the status and configuration for these switches to Ask Alexa, allowing you to get and change the switch mode status (manual, occupancy, vacant). Overall, a rather neat device!

I should have all of my testing for the new DTH done by the end of July, and as is typical with me, I will ensure it is fully documented before I release it.

Enjoy the fireworks next week for those in the US.


So I just ran through the wiki setup. No errors throughout the setup until I go to test. I say “Alexa, ask smart things the front door status” and it replies with “I had some problems finding the device you specified”

Where would I start with troubleshooting?

(Micheal ) #4343

I would start with “Alexa, ask Smart Things for Help”…if it gives you a description of Ask Alexa then it is installed properly. From there, have you added the devices to Ask Alexa that you want to control or get the status of? If so, have you added the JSON to the Developer’s section of Amazon (

Let me know if you have gone through these steps as it sounds like you are really close.


Yea it describes it and even mentions your name lol. Nice addition. I went through the smart app and added devices I wanted to control and yes I added the stuff on each amazon site as well.

(Micheal ) #4345

Good…so it means it is installed correctly.

If you can, PM me so we can continue to troubleshoot. One simple thing would be to change your syntax and see if it suddenly works…a very simplistic version would be “Alexa, Ask Smart Things about the front door”. I set it up so the ‘status’ is optional if no other commands are given. If that works then it is simply a utterance that I need to add.

Let me know if that works, and if not, PM me with a screenshot of your Live Logging for Ask Alexa when giving these commands.

(Micheal ) #4346

Happy Friday! I hope everyone survived the 4th of July with the same number of fingers they started with!

While not much to report about Ask Alexa (except that it continues to be installed at a regular interval by folks), I did want to say how impressed I have been with the GE switches that I have purchased and installed over the past couple weeks. (See this post: [RELEASE] Ask Alexa)

With the DTH I have been updating for these devices I can have LOCAL performance of the lights when I walk into the room, thanks to the built-in motion sensor. And then I leave the room, the lights go out just as quick (depending on the settings). The thing I didn’t like about my other motion sensor solutions (outside of having to replace the batteries) is that there were ‘dead zones’ where I put them that the light sometimes went out when you were still in the room. So far, these GE switches with motion sensors seem to work well (they are at human level and pointing straight out).

Anyway, I have a few older GE dimmers and on/off switches along with some Fibaro motion sensors I will be selling. While I usually have good luck on eBay, I am open to getting them to a community member. PM me if you are interested.


(Joel W) #4347

Thank you for adding Yeah Yeah to the Alexa responses. Now when I say nothing she responds properly.