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Build Talking Apps for Alexa: Creating Voice-First, Hands-Free User Experiences


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Build Talking Apps for Alexa

Creating Voice-First, Hands-Free User Experiences


Voice recognition is here at last. Alexa and other voice assistants have now become widespread and mainstream. Is your app ready for voice interaction? Learn how to develop your own voice applications for Amazon Alexa. Start with techniques for building conversational user interfaces and dialog management. Integrate with existing applications and visual interfaces to complement voice-first applications. The future of human-computer interaction is voice, and we’ll help you get ready for it.

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About this Title

Pages: 300 (est)
Published: 2020-05-10
Release: B4.0 (2020-05-19)
ISBN: 978-1-68050-725-6

For decades, voice-enabled computers have only existed in the realm of science fiction. But now the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) lets you develop your own voice-first applications. Leverage ASK to create engaging and natural user interfaces for your applications, enabling them to listen to users and talk back. You’ll see how to use voice and sound as first-class components of user-interface design.

We’ll start with the essentials of building Alexa voice applications, called skills, including useful tools for creating, testing, and deploying your skills. From there, you can define parameters and dialogs that will prompt users for input in a natural, conversational style.

Integrate your Alexa skills with Amazon services and other backend services to create a custom user experience. Discover how to tailor Alexa’s voice and language to create more engaging responses and speak in the user’s own language. Complement the voice-first experience with visual interfaces for users on screen-based devices. Add options for users to buy upgrades or other products from your application. Once all the pieces are in place, learn how to publish your Alexa skill for everyone to use.

Create the future of user interfaces using the Alexa Skills Kit today.

What You Need

You will need a computer capable of running the latest version of Node.js, a Git client, and internet access.

Contents & Extracts

This book is currently in beta, so the contents and extracts will change as the book is developed.

  • Introduction
    • Who Should Read This Book?
    • About This Book
    • Online Resources
  • Alexa, Hello
    • How Alexa Works
    • Dissecting Skills
    • Installing the ASK CLI
    • Creating Your First Alexa Skill
    • Deploying the Skill
    • Wrapping Up
  • Testing Alexa Skills excerpt
    • Considering Skill Testing Styles
    • Semi-Automated Testing
    • Automatically Testing Skills
    • Preventing Deployment When Tests Fail
    • Wrapping Up
  • Parameterizing Intents with Slots excerpt
    • Adding Slots to an Intent
    • Creating Custom Types
    • Extending Built-In Types
    • Enabling Flexibility with Synonyms
    • Wrapping Up
  • Creating Multi-Turn Dialogs
    • Adding Dialogs and Prompts In the Interaction Model
    • Eliciting Missing Slot Values
    • Validating Slot Values
    • Confirming Slots
    • Explicitly Handling Dialog Delegation
    • Wrapping Up
  • Integrating User Data
    • Accessing a User’s Amazon Info
    • Linking with External APIs
    • Wrapping Up
  • Embellishing Response Speech excerpt
    • Getting to Know SSML
    • Testing SSML With the Text-to-Speech Simulator
    • Changing Alexa’s Voice
    • Adjusting Pronunciation
    • Inserting Breaks in Speech
    • Adding Sound Effects and Music
    • Applying SSML in Skill Responses
    • Wrapping Up
  • Localizing Responses
    • Translating the Interaction Model
    • Localizing Spoken Responses
    • Testing Localization
    • Fixing Language Pronunciation
    • Using Language-Specific Voices
    • Wrapping Up
  • Rendering Visual Responses
    • Embellishing Responses with Cards
    • Creating Visuals for Screen-Enabled Devices
    • Wrapping Up
  • Creating Custom Visual Templates
  • Sending Events
  • Selling Stuff
  • Publishing Your Skill
  • Troubleshooting Your Skill


Craig Walls is a principal software engineer at Pivotal, a popular author, an enthusiastic supporter of Spring Framework and voice-first applications, and a frequent conference speaker.

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