Saturday, December 16, 2017

New ASK built-in commands

Amazon have announced the release of a developer preview of a slew of new built-in commands for Alexa skills. These commands are intended to help developers by providing multiple variants of commands through a single inclusion in the skill. This lessens the burden of having to predict all the possible ways a user might say something. Included in the release are a bunch of intents around music including commands relating to playlists, artists, tracks and more.

These have significant implications for the squeezebox Alexa skill and I'll need to review them in detail. However, they're developer preview at the moment and therefore subject to change. Also, it looks like they're available for US skills only right now (I'm developing on the European platform). This won't hinder my plan to get an initial release out to testers to see how well the skill/LMS comms is working but is something I'll likely want to include in when I start building out the full command set.

 

 

 

Tasks List Growing

Not much development this week, but we do have the teamwork project portal up and running and a number of volunteers signed up to help with testing etc., which is great. I've been through the project-related threads on forums.slimdevices.com and extracted all the community suggestions and feature requests. These, along with some outstanding internal tasks, have been set up in the portal so there's now a consolidated list of to-dos to be tackled.

I'm hoping to make significant progress this weekend with a view towards getting an initial version to testers next week for the purpose of testing skill<->LMS communications efficiencies. The aim is to get this locked down in the coming two weeks which will then allow me tackle the bulk of the actual skill implementation over the Christmas break.

Development/Test Portal Set Up

I had intended using Basecamp for project management and testing co-ordination as it's a platform I'm familiar with. They seem, however, to have dispensed with their free tier and, as I'm trying to keep costs at a minimum, I had to look for an alternative. I opted to try Teamwork.com for the project. It seems to do a lot of things well and, critically, has a free plan that supports 2x projects and unlimited users. I'm in the process of sending out invites to those who offered to help with testing so we can have a central point of communications.

Device Names

This is the up-to-date list of device names built into the skill. The idea is to include standard Squeezebox names, standard room names and a few specific names potential users might have. It's not absolutely necessary to have every potential name included here as the skill implements fuzzy text search using levenshtein distance to determine the match scoring of the spoken device name. In initial testing, it's pretty good at finding the correct named device.

Read more: Device Names

Get Involved

This is a personal project. I'm interested in Home Automation and I want this skill for myself. However, it seems there are a few other people who'd be interested as well so I'm happy to share once done.

The plan is to get the skill certified by Amazon so it's publically available. The companion plug-in will be made available on this site.

To help get this done, there's potential for interested parties to get involved. I've already had several offers of help with tasks like testing, security, coding and translation and that's greatly appreciated. If you want to get involved, here's how you can help;

Read more: Get Involved

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About Hab-Tunes

Hab-Tunes is an in-development skill for the Amazon Echo that allows voice control of Squeezebox devices. This site is intended to document the skill development and help give some idea of progress.

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