How to build your own Alexa skills with Alexa Blueprints

Want to publish your own Alexa skill? Here's how to do it

Amazon Echo 2017 review top
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Amazon Alexa is one of the most capable voice assistants on the market. That’s largely due to the skills that let Amazon’s gadgets do far more than the abilities they come with out of the box.

Until recently, people had to wait for developers to make the skills they desired, which often meant submitting feature requests and enduring delays that lasted for weeks or months. Since Amazon unveiled its Alexa Blueprints portal, which allows you to make your own skills for Alexa, this means you can further customize Alexa to your liking.

You can even publish your customized skills, so you can share them with other Alexa users. You don’t need to have coding skills like Mark Zuckerberg to use Blueprints either. You just need to follow one of the templates Amazon has available. Here’s how to create an Alexa skill of your own.

1. Login to Blueprints

how to build your own alexa skills blueprints

Start by going to https://blueprints.amazon.com/. Once you’re there, click on sign in at the top of the screen. You’ll then have to log in with your Amazon account details.

2. Choose your template

Begin by selecting a blueprint. Think of the Alexa Blueprints as a collection of templates. There are dozens of options across six different categories: Greetings and Occasions, Organizations and Businesses, Fun and Games, Learning and Knowledge, At Home, and Storyteller.

You can do things such as create a quiz game, make a fairy tale, create a workout routine, make a family chore chart, create a greeting card, or customize Alexa’s responses to your questions. Browse the Featured Blueprints to get an idea of what’s available. Then, scroll down and look for Blueprints broken down into categories.

3. Read the blueprint’s details

how to build your own alexa skills blueprints skill

After finding an Alexa Blueprint template that strikes your fancy, click on it. Doing so opens a description of the blueprint, including the steps you’ll go through to create the skill. Notice the Play button and progress bar, too. This lets you hear a sample of a skill created with that blueprint, which can help inspire you before diving into the rest of the process and provide helpful ideas.

Confirm you want to start the Blueprint-building process by clicking on the Make Your Own link near the top of the blueprint description. For greeting cards, you’ll click on Pick a Theme instead.

4. Populate the Blueprint’s fields

how to build your own alexa skills blueprints qa skill

The next screen you see after clicking the Make Your Own (or Pick a Theme) features numerous form fields. All of them already have content filled in, but you can delete any of it, and fill in other details to customize the content.

Use the blue Next button in the top right corner to progress to the next step after filling out the fields or leaving them as they are.

5. Name your skill

how to build your own alexa skills blueprints name skill

Choosing a name for your skill is one of the last steps to go through. Picking one might seem very straightforward, but you should keep Alexa’s limitations in mind.

For example, Amazon’s assistant still falls short when it comes to recognizing first and last names. So, if you use blueprints to make a family quiz game, it’s best to name it something like “The Family Fun Quiz” instead of “The Alexander Family’s Quiz.” Alexa also makes you have to enunciate certain words (like “our”), so keep that in mind when picking a name too.

If you notice Alexa can’t understand you when you ask to use the skill, come back and pick a name that is a bit more simple. You can do that by choosing Skills You’ve Made at the top of the Alexa Blueprints homepage. Click a skill to select it, then the Edit button associated with it.

6. Watch for the skill readiness notification message

It only takes a few minutes until your new Alexa skill is ready to go. Look for the notification message that indicates the skill is available and ready to use. Once it is, it’s possible to use the skill on any Alexa-enabled device you own that’s linked to your Amazon account. You can also go to the Skills You’ve Made link at the top of the screen. It lists all skills created with blueprints. If you go under details, if it tells you your skill is Ready to Use and edit, you can go ahead and launch the skill.

7. Launch the skill

Amazon Echo 2017 review top
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

You can start interacting with the skill by using the “Alexa, open [skill name]” voice command. After triggering the skill, you can make sure it works as expected. If it doesn’t, you can make changes in the Skills You’ve Made section mentioned above.

8. Share or Publish your skill

how to build your own alexa skills store

Once you’ve tested your skill, and you know it works the way you want it to, you can share it with friends or family members. You can share your skill via email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or you can get a link to share. To do so, just go under Skills You’ve Made -> Details -> Share With Others.

You can even publish your skill to the Alexa Skills Store for Alexa users in the U.S. to find, use, and review. People can give your skill up to a 5-star rating, just like any other skill in the store.

To publish your skill, it will need to go through a review process that usually takes around one or two business days. Here’s how to publish your Alexa skill.

  • Go to Skills You’ve Made and click on the skill you want to publish.
  • Click on Publish to Skills Store (if you’ve shared your skill, you’ll need to revoke sharing)
  • Enter your Alexa Skills Store name, which is how customers will find you in the Alexa Skills Store. The name of your Skills Store can be different from the name of your skill and your opening phrase. You’ll also have to fill in the created by field, indicating your name or company name.
  • Go to the next page and choose which category your skill fits into, choose relevant keywords that will help people find your skill, then add a short description and a detailed description of your skill.
  • On the next page, fill out the policy details about your skill and its intended audience.
  • On the following page, review the information and submit your skill to be reviewed by Amazon for approval.
  • Await an email notification letting you know whether your skill has been approved or rejected.

9. Delete a skill

Sometimes, you might make some skills that aren’t as useful or fun as you’d expect. The Skills You’ve Made area allows you to edit a skill. Alternatively, you can delete a skill to remove it from your account. You can also remove skills you’ve published from the Alexa Skills Store by selecting Remove from Store under the menu options.

With its Blueprints section, Amazon makes it easy enough for even non-tech-savvy people to make Alexa skills and publish their own Alexa skill ideas. As a result, you can customize your smart speaker device with content that’s relevant to you and your family, and you can share your creations with the world.

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