A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to win an Echo Dot in a company hackathon. Since then I have been trying to develop Alexa Skills that interest me in my spare time. Before exploring this new field of development, I had been interested in learning and practicing a language that was new to me, Golang (or just Go). Considering Alexa skills are based on web services, one of the area where Go excels, it seemed like a great way to “have my cake and eat it too.”
It was a couple of months ago when I came across a great post by Nic Raboy on writing about writing Alexa Skills with Golang and AWS Lambda which can be found here. Most of the Skills I have developed started before Lambda had first-class support for Go so I am much more comfortable writing Skills using self-hosted web services. Using Lambda for Alexa Skills is definitely a great approach but there are some instances where using your own server might make more sense. If you are looking to reuse an existing server or rapidly prototype an idea then maybe it makes more sense to use this approach.
In this post, I will detail the steps necessary to deploy a web service that can be used to fulfill Alexa Skill requests. To make it easier to compare this approach with using Lambda, the functionality of the Skill will remain almost identical to Nic Raboy’s example. It is only the deployment process that will be changed.Read More
It has been a few years since I last worked on and published an application, otherwise known as a Skill, for Alexa powered voice assistants. My last Skill titled, BART Control, was built out of necessity because of my commuting on the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. While I didn’t open source it, I had created the Skill with Node.js and a publicly available BART web service. Since then I had written a tutorial titled, Create an Amazon Alexa Skill Using Node.js and AWS Lambda, which also focused on Node.js.
I’m a huge fan of Golang and was pleased to see that AWS Lambda recently started to officially support it. AWS Lambda isn’t a requirement to creating Alexa Skills, but it is a huge convenience. To make things even better, Amazon recently sent me an invitation to take part in their developer offer to receive an Amazon Echo Show for publishing another Skill. The offer and Golang inspired me to develop another Skill and this time I wanted to share my process.Read More
When you’re building a business, the experts all say that you should make your list building strategy a priority. Using social networks like Twitter and Facebook for your marketing is great, but those might not be around forever. Email has been around for a long time and it will likely exist a long time into the future as well.
I’ve briefly mentioned this before, but I’m currently using Sendy to manage my email subscribers and send out my monthly newsletter. However, I wasn’t always using Sendy to accomplish this task. For around a year, I was using Mailchimp, a similar product.
We’re going to see what Sendy is, how to use it, and why I’m using it over the various alternatives that exist.Read More
Not too long ago I had written about creating an API with Node.js and Express that accepted image uploads and manipulated the images to be Android compliant before returning them in a ZIP archive. This article was titled, Create an Android Launcher Icon Generator RESTful API with Node.js, and Jimp, and it was a great example of creating APIs that that did most of their work in memory. I even demonstrated how to containerize the application with Docker.
Applications that manipulate media will need to be able to scale, otherwise there is a risk of the application crashing from not enough resources, or too many resources can get expensive. For this reason, it makes perfect sense to take the previous example serverless with Amazon’s Lambda and API Gateway offerings.
We’re going to see how to use API Gateway to accept HTTP requests with binary image data and process that data with Lambda to return various sized Android launcher images packaged in a ZIP archive.Read More
I am pleased to announce that the latest episode of The Polyglot Developer Podcast is now available to download from all the popular podcasting networks. In this episode titled, Object Storage for Application Developers, I’m joined by Krishna Srinivas from Minio to talk about what object storage is and the various solutions that are available.Read More