How to create Alexa Skills
Bradly S

How to use the Alexa Skill Blueprint Tool

If you have an Alexa ecosystem and you don’t use the Alexa Skill Blueprint tool, you really aren’t optimising your Smart Home. Do not worry though! I will teach you how to use and make Alexa Skill Blueprints in this post and video (Coming Soon)!

What is an Alexa Skill Blueprint?

Have you ever wanted to make an app but didn’t have the knowledge to do so? It’s frustrating when no one else has made what you need.

But there is a solution, Skills are like apps for your phone, but instead, they work on your Alexa devices. Whilst there may be thousands of skills out there to fit your needs and desires, you may find that the wide range of relaxation skills get in the way of you ordering a pizza or setting up a daily schedule list.

Skill Blueprints

Skill Blue Prints are great for creating your own personal skills in what can be literally minutes. You can use Alexa Blueprints to create custom games, stories, lists, flash cards and more!

There are a few categories to pick from:

  • At Home
  • Learning & Knowledge
  • Fun & Games
  • Storyteller
  • Greetings & Occasions
  • Communities & Organisations
  • Business

Making your own skill

Like myself, once you found out these exist, you’re probably pretty eager to just jump straight in and find out more on this and how to get going. It’s exciting I know, but we have a few things we should cover first.

Have a target skill in mind

You should check out the placeholders that Alexa have in place to find some great ideas and understand the logic behind personalising and creating your own Skill. I only ever write skills for myself, so I don’t mind being vulgar or having it be a little rough around the edges.

But try to make sure you understand who’s going to be using this, my mum was not happy when she tried to use the commands I have listed on the fridge.

One thing I will say is make sure the name is easily distinguishable, Alexa doesn’t quite pick up my accent all the time and this has led to some frustrating encounters!

Amazon suggests picking names which follow these rules:

  • Short- around two or three words
  • Unique (different from the other skills you’ve made)
  • Use simple words (Alexa is still learning first and last names)
  • Use only letters, periods, and apostrophes

Don’t use “Alexa”, “Echo”, “Amazon”, “Computer”, “skill” or “app” in your skill name because these are the words you’ll use to wake up Alexa.

– Amazon

Customize for individual users

Whilst this isn’t something I’d recommend doing to a complete stranger, if you do wish to declare your undying love to someone in particular or use Alexa to sing a song with the person in questions name in it, it can be done.

The Alexa Skill Blueprint will automatically pre-fill with default/sample content to help guide you through your creative task, so you can add and remove whatever you need. This includes adding your crush’s name to the Skill.

Name it something funny like “What do you think of Brad?”, so Alexa quickly responds with “Brad looks like he should go to the gym more often”. Thanks Alexa.

With any blueprint, you can create unique stories and responses that are tailored to whoever is using them.

If you want to act like an adult (Not like me), you can make your Blueprint assign family members to household chores and assign a task to each person by name.

How to I test my Alexa Skill?

Once you make an Alexa Skill, it’s almost instantly available to use. It may take between 1 – 10 minutes. If you want to check the status of your skills, you need to go to Skills You’ve Made.

Alexa Skill Confirmation
Alexa Skill Confirmation

Once your skill says “Ready to Use”, you can ask Alexa to go ahead with it!

Updating your Alexa Blueprint skill

In the page you were on before, you’ll see that you can edit the skill by selecting Edit, if you can’t find that, you’ll need to go here first.

If you’ve shared your skill and made it available for others, only your Amazon account will have the permissions to update the Skill. Any changes you make are instantly available to everyone using the skill.

Deleting a skill will make it totally unavailable from that point, so I would be careful if you wish to have similar skills which have the same commands.

How do I share my custom made Alexa Skills?

Once you’ve created your skill, you can share it with everyone who has an Alexa-enabled device, so anything with Alexa as the AI Assistant. You can share the skill via Email, Social Media (Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest), Whatsapp & Text Message.

Your recipient will recieve a link which asks them to login to Amazon to allow their account to check over the details of the skill before enabling it.

Skills aren’t public by default, they’re private and only available via your own account. Once you share it publicly, it can be shared and sent around all over the web.

So if you have custom responses for friends and family be careful about sharing these!

How to share my skill?

  1. Go to the Skills You’ve Made page and select a skill.
  2. Under Access, the status of your skill will automatically be set to Just me.
  3. In the Skill Actions section, select the Share With Others link.
  4. You can choose to share a link to your skill via email, text, or as a social media post. After you share your link, your skill’s Access will be set to Shared.

To revoke access:

  1. Go to the Skills You’ve Made page and select a skill.
  2. Under Access, the status of your skill (if already shared) will be set to Shared.
  3. Select the option to Revoke.
  4. The Access of your skill will change to Just me.

Once a skill is shared, the name cannot be updated. To edit the name, you’ll need to revoke access to your skill first.

  1. Go to the Skills You’ve Made page and select a skill.
  2. Under Access, select the option to Revoke. The status of your skill will change back to Just me.
  3. Choose edit icon next to the name of your skill.
  4. After editing the name, go back to Skill Actions and select Share With Others.
  5. When prompted, share the new link to your skill with recipients via email, text, or as a post over social media.

Hopefully, this guide helped you! If you’re using IFTTT I highly suggest checking out this guide on The Best IFTTT Recipes I Use.

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