Blog Announcements, Tutorials, Thought Leadership

11 New Bespoken Dashboard Features From Our Users – We’re All Ears

Customer feedback is crucial for every software company, and over the past few months our team has been busy gathering thoughts and listening to our users as they navigate the voice app development space. If you’re an active member of the Alexa Slack community, it’s likely our own founder and CEO, John Kelvie, has asked you a few questions directly.

Thanks to our hundreds of users, we’d like to share the following Bespoken Dashboard features that were inspired by real users.

Want to track progress of an issue or see if one was already implemented? To hold us accountable, check in with the activity on Github, and keep the feedback coming.

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Alexa Skill Automation – Testing, Integration, and Delivery

Developers love automated testing and deployment, but up until recently, it has not been possible for voice apps. Luckily, with Bespoken’s suite of tools, first-class automation and testing are now achievable! We took one of our homegrown skills and used our new Virtual Device SDK for end-to-end tests, along with our unit-testing tools, and have turned it into a showcase for best practices for Alexa skill testing and automation.

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Automated Testing for Alexa Skills – Validation

We are very pleased to announce our Validation feature is available in Beta on the Bespoken Dashboard. You now have the power to run automated testing for your Alexa Skills – and you can do it all without talking!

With Validation, you can create a sequence of tests for Alexa by just typing. These tests are then automatically run against the actual Alexa Voice Service (AVS) and your skill. It’s magical, it’s extremely useful for ensuring voice app performance, and it goes great with our new bst speak command as well as our Virtual Device SDK. They all rely on the same underlying technology to make testing Alexa easier than ever.

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How to Think About Voice App Performance and Why It’s Important Now

There are frequent discussions in voice technology circles about voice app performance. The definition of performance in these conversations usually drifts toward user experience – how effective is the app is at fulfilling a user’s intent and the rate of re-engagement or retention. These are all important metrics.

However, we hear far less about traditional measures of application performance such as availability, error rates, average response time, request rates, and other key metrics. Neglecting these also has a substantial negative impact user experience and engagement in both the short and long-term.

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Developer Diary – Building A Cross-Platform Voice App With Jovo

I am very excited to be the newest member of the Bespoken team.

My first assignment – to build a voice app, of course! I’m an experienced full-stack developer, but this is my first voice-first project. And as part of this, I got interested in using the Jovo Framework, which I learned about from my colleagues.

Jovo allows for building cross-platform voice apps for Alexa and Google Assistant – we have been doing a lot of work to integrate our software with it (read more here). And so I was excited to try it out and learn more about the framework as well as Alexa skills and Google Actions. It seemed like a great way to come up to speed on both platforms simultaneously!

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How I Tested and Debugged My Cool New Alexa Skill

At Bespoken, we strive to eat our own dog food. And to that end, we had a recent hackathon to build our own Alexa skills. I decided to build a fun game, based on the show “The Price Is Right” – it shows you an item and asks you to guess how much it costs. I’m submitting it now – I hope you enjoy it once it is launched!

As part of the core development team, I was able to use our manual and automated testing tools to create my skill quickly, rapidly iterating through develop, test and debug cycles. Now I’m going to show you how I did it, and why I think it gave me an unfair advantage in creating a great skill, fast.

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Build an Alexa Skill with Bespoken in Boulder, Austin, and Lima

As voice developers and software engineers, we live and breathe voice-first technology every day. And with the recent onslaught of voice powered hardware and software announcements from Amazon and Google, the industry will be hard to ignore even with non-developers.

We know most of you interact with us via the BST command line interface, the Bespoken dashboard, or maybe in the Alexa Slack group or @bespokenio on Twitter. While we are grateful for our numerous digital interactions, we remain dedicated to the unique needs of voice developers. That’s why we’re spending the last two weeks of October presenting at three meetups.

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Unit Testing Alexa Skills Using Virtual Alexa

Meet Virtual Alexa – a magical emulator that is an essential tool for unit testing Alexa skills. Check it out on Github, or read the API docs here.

Virtual Alexa is based on our existing BSTAlexa emulator, but we’ve taken it to the next level. 🙂

What are our motivations for creating this? We wanted to provide:

  • An intuitive, natural way to unit test Alexa skills programmatically – as if you were speaking to the device
  • A simpler interface for startup and teardown of tests
  • A first-class project in its own right

We see the Virtual Alexa emulator as a standalone, highly useful project, and so we have moved it to its own repository. It really has taken on a life of its own, independent of our core CLI project, bst, as it is foundational to other new pieces we are working on.

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