Making an Alexa skill just got ridiculously easy

I think I screamed.

I was teaching grad students how to make a texting bot with the bot-writing tool Dexter when I saw this:

We use Dexter in the Bot Studio to build and write the Quartzy Bot on Facebook Messenger. It’s the best tool we have found, allowing us to write chatbot scripts similar to movie scripts.

And suddenly, there was an Alexa button.

Here was Bot Studio editor Emily Withrow’s reaction in Slack:

She did, and got an Alexa version of the Quartzy Mindfulness Calendar (day 3) running on her Amazon Echo in about 10 minutes.

Ten minutes!

Granted, Emily is a bot-writing pro; if you’re new to Dexter it might take you an hour. But even that is quite startling.

For comparison, it took me a full day to make this simple interaction using Amazon’s tools.

By tightly integrating their bot-writing tool with Alexa, the folks at Dexter just made writing for Amazon’s voice interface easier by orders of magnitude.

Give it a try yourself:

For more about building bots with Dexter, here’s a build-a-chatbot “getting started” guide.  And there are the fresh Dexter docs on writing for Alexa.

To get your Alexa skill published for public use, you’ll still need Amazon’s approval, which can present a serious hurdle and take weeks.

But you don’t need approval to make skills for your own Alexa device, and you can invite friends to try them, too.

All before lunch.