#VS2017– Azure WebApi App, Amazon Alexa Skills and the error “I’m not sure what went wrong” (you get tired of listening!)

Hi!

Just over a month ago Amazon officially launched its Amazon Echo line in Canada. In Avanade we will host an event specially dedicated to Artificial Intelligence and Voice Interfaces. And now that the holiday season has finished, it’s time to share some of the lessons learned over the last few months working with Alexa Skills.

Using simple words to describe how an Alexa Skill works, we could say that the Skill allows us to connect the audio processing of Amazon Echo with an HTTP service. By default, Amazon proposes us to use an AWS Lambda. If we switch to the Azure world, we have several options, for example, Use a Azure Function or a website in a AppService.

I1

I choose the 2nd option and then it was time to configure my controllers to be compatible with the POST requests made by my Amazon Skill.

Note: If you work with .net there is a NuGet package for this, AlexaSkillsKit.Net

After configuring my Intents, Slots and the operation of my Skill, it’s time to test it. In the most minimalist tester in the history of the Internet, everything worked OK.

I2

The HTTP requests my Alexa skills performed communicated correctly with my App Service in Azure. Even in the new Test Simulator (Beta) everything worked properly.

I3

Note: The 2nd one is a really good Test environment. The default test interface is, like saying it without offending anyone, “very simple”.

Well, everything is working perfectly until the time to try it on the Amazon Echo. Every time I tested it, Alexa told me the following phrase:

“I’m not sure what went wrong”

I4

I spent a lot of time trying to find the error. I enabled all kinds of traces, both in Azure and in the Alexa Skills, and I could not find anything that works bad. At those moments I usually take advantage to go running and to clear my mind a little bit, but with the weather these days, I had to relax in other ways.

I5

The solution arrived to me when I was showing my girl and my children, how to program an Alexa Skill. I was thinking of creating something with Scratch so that my children can create their own conversations/skills with Alexa, when I realized that:

I had configured my device with Language English (Canada) and when you create a Skill, by default it is created in English (U. S).

I6

Note: It is still English, but you see that Amazon friends are sensitive about it 😀 Really, there are very clear reasons why skills have to be identified by country, legal issues, copyright and more.

Well, right now I have 2 solutions for my skills to work

  • Change the location of the device to United States
  • Add a new Language to my Alexa Skill

I7

Obviously the best is the 2nd option. And, while it is not as trivial as it seems, once my skill supports the new language, I no longer have to deal with the beautiful phrase

“I’m not sure what went wrong”

And finally I was able to continue testing my skills in the device!

In next posts I will comment on the quick way in which I have learned to have a Skill with multiple languages.

Happy Coding!

Greetings @ Toronto

El Bruno

References

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