NewsLearn to Build an Alexa Skill with Treehouse

Andrew Chalkley
writes on April 5, 2017

Share with your friends










Submit

Treehouse has teamed up with Amazon to teach developers and non-developers to build Alexa skills. The course, Build an Alexa Skill, has been released today!

What is Alexa?

Alexa is a voice service from Amazon that powers devices like the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap. Alexa can also be found in Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire Tablets, and any other connected device configured with the Alexa Voice Service – even a Raspberry Pi!

Understanding humans in a natural way has been a focus in computing in recent years. It’s an exciting time to be involved with computing. We can now speak naturally to products like the Amazon Echo which was unthinkable a decade ago.

What is an Alexa skill?

Alexa has many built-in capabilities called skills. For example, you can set reminders by saying “Alexa, set a timer for 30 minutes”. In 30 minutes an alarm will sound. You can even play a song from your favorite band by saying “Alexa, play Surrender by Sutro”.

You can also ask for basics facts, set alarms, ask for conversions of weights and currencies and check the weather. Alexa can even control smart devices such as thermostats like Nest and smart switches like Wemo Switch.

In addition to the built-in skills, you can also enable custom skills. For example, you can order a Pizza from Domino’s or Pizza Hut, book a ride with Uber or Lyft, or even play a game of Jeopardy!

Check out Alexa in action on the Echo Dot.

What you’ll learn

In the Build an Alexa Skill course we’ll create our own custom skill – a dictionary for technical terms. For example, you can say “Alexa, ask Treehouse what does HTML stand for?” Or “Alexa, ask Treehouse what is JavaScript?” Alexa will then respond with the appropriate definition.

By the end of the course, you’ll be comfortable with the terminology of skill building and how to customize the Treehouse technical term dictionary to be a dictionary of your own.

We are going to use the Alexa Skills Kit SDK for Node.js in this course, but you actually don’t need any programming experience. All you need is the ability to enter details into web forms, download files, make a few edits, zip them up and upload them. We’ll cover everything you need.

The Alexa voice service is not just in Amazon products, it can be found in the smart home intercom Nucleus and wifi enabled speakers JAM Voice and Sugr Cube. With all the devices that now support Alexa, it’s never been a better time to learn.

Check out the Build an Alexa Skill course today!

Leave a Reply

Learning to code can be fun!

Get started today with a free trial and discover why thousands of students are choosing Treehouse to learn about web development, design, and business.

Learn more