So, I was going to submit a Blackjack skill for certification tomorrow. However today's update reveals that someone else's blackjack skill has just been released. I know Amazon doesn't see a problem with, say, five redundant skills to check the value of Bitcoin, but for those of us who aren't interested in increasing the skill bloat, it would be nice if we had some visibility into skills that, at least, are far enough along to be in the certification queue.
Funny you should mention that, since one of your skills has pretty heavy overlap with something I've been working on for quite a while. =) You're right, though - it would be good to know what's in the pipeline, just like a development roadmap would be wonderful.
I apologize for the inconvenience! Which skill? The only one released recently was Demotivate Me, which was pretty trivial. Tweet Poll and Starlanes were months in the making and had videos posted her a while ago. Certification was extremely tedious for Starlanes, as it is so "complicated". Anyway. Let me know which one it is. Perhaps there is an opportunity to collaborate, rather than compete.
Yep, it was Demotivate Me. The skill I've been working on with a couple people in our spare time is similar, but a bit more complicated in its utterances, etc. I'm a little bit worried about what we're gonna hear back from review, based on some of the things I've been seeing about the more complex voice interfaces (and your experience with Star Lanes). I'll let you know when it's out, and we can swap notes.
Yeah, well, Demotivate Me was kind of the nadir for complexity. Technically it didn't need any intents at all. I just put them in because the interface wouldn't let me register it without them. But I'm very excited if you are doing a complicated interface. I think there is scope for this, but most people aren't putting the time and effort into doing it. I did for Starlanes and Tweet Poll, but I can't say they've been very successful. Starlanes is getting a badly needed tutorial and Tweet Poll just got a major workover. It's hard to get right first time. And these long turnarounds for new revisions and difficulty in getting user feedback doesn't help. I really liked Android development. I could release several times a day if I wanted to. When a weird error happened on an unusual device, I got an e-mail, a call stack, and I could turn around a fix in an hour. I really wish it was that easy for Alexa. I'm not even sure what Amazon gains from having a Certification process anyway. So much of a skill is tied up on the server process, which can be changed at any time. Tweet Poll behaves [i]completely[/i] differently now then when I certified it. And I've managed to actually roll out most of the new features for Star Lanes without having to change the Audio Interface. And, of the skills I've reviewed, several were completely borked so certification is no guarantee of quality or functionality. Maybe now that reviews are in place I should put in a feature request to dispense with certification...
Yeah, we noticed that, because we theoretically want to be adding new ways of interacting with the skill over time, and we can go crazy touching the backend, but unfortunately the utterances and intents will be locked. I think our plan is to submit with a subset of the overall interaction model that we want, and then hope that Amazon gets its act together wrt an update path for skills. Some of the stuff we have planned is quite involved, but as you mentioned few others are taking this approach, so we're feeling a lot of pressure to get our ideas out the door ASAP, even if we haven't done everything we wanted, yet.
> I'm not even sure what Amazon gains from having a Certification process anyway. Exactly. They have zero control over how the skill functions after being certified. The users don't even have any guarantee that a skill will behave the same way today that it did yesterday. In theory, I could get a skill certified, grab 10,000 daily users, then switch the skill to blast my political opinions every time it is opened. Then what? Would Amazon shut it down? How would it even be reported? I wish all skills could be published, but not certified. That way I could share a skill with others, but it wouldn't show up in Amazon's skill list. When they take a look and make sure that it isn't pure junk, they could certify it and list it. I would very much prefer this kind of model.
Galactoise, what I've done is taken to submitting intents for all the features I can think that I might add. And, now that we can provide comments to the certifiers, telling them that they aren't part of this release. That they're only used for testing/tech preview. Once nice thing about an audio interface, if you don't document it, users are unlikely to find it. :-) Matt, I'm not sure I'd want [i]no[/i] certification. But, to be fair, given how much you can change a skill post-certification, I'm not really sure what certification buys Amazon. On the one hand, I'm sure they would have to, at least, change their legal language. Somehow make it even more clear to users that they are accessing 3rd party functionality and that Amazon isn't liable for it. Maybe each time they enable a skill. But, if they have legal concerns, it's unclear how those are met now given how things can change. More likely the legal stuff [i]we[/i] would have to sign would change. We would have to agree to take on more liability. Most people don't read those anyway. But to make it stick, they might start asking for more personally identifiable information. Having to track and store that will push up their maintenance costs. There's regulations they have to follow for that.
Oh, Galactoise, as far as Demotivate Me, I think there is scope for collaboration. Our demotivational phrases came straight from the cold black heart of TsaTsaTZu's CEO. If you wanted to add a demotivational section to your DERP project I'm sure she could contribute. She seems to have an inexhaustible supply. And, it might be kind of funny to have our skills snipe at each other. "If you think my advice is a bright ray of sunshine, you should ask Demotivate Me." One of our funniest ones is where Demotivate Me snipes with Alexa. We can pull it off because we use a voice actor for most of our replies, and so can distinguish between our narrator and Alexa herself. We can record some snippets for you if you have some ideas for cross sniping. :-) If anyone else with a fortune cookie skill wants to get in on the game, we're up for it!