Debugging Alexa Skills With VS Code and Bespoken

TL;DR Building Alexa skills in Visual Studio (VS) Code with JavaScript? Make it work even better with our CLI – especially for debugging.
debugging

Visual Studio Code is a very popular developer environment for building Alexa skills with Javascript. And we think it works even better with our Bespoken CLI – especially for debugging.

With it, you can easily step through an Alexa skill, using the REAL interactions coming from Alexa. A quick illustration on how our proxy works:

bst Proxy Flow

More information on how we deliver Alexa requests straight to your door, er, laptop here. 🙂

To step through an Alexa skill, first install bespoken-tools package as part of your project:
npm install bespoken-tools --save-dev

Next, add a launch configuration – access configurations via Debug -> Open Configurations. Create a configuration that looks like this:

{
"version": "0.2.0",
"configurations": [
{
"type": "node",
"request": "launch",
"name": "Launch Proxy",
"program": "${workspaceRoot}/node_modules/bespoken-tools/bin/bst-proxy.js",
"args": ["lambda", "src/index.js"],
"cwd": "${workspaceRoot}"
}
]
}

Make sure to put the relative path to your index.js in the args section.

Now, we can try running it – select Debug -> Start Debugging. If everything is working correctly, you will see output like this:

debugging alexa skills

Here we are adding a breakpoint and testing it with the service simulator:

Debugging
Doesn’t that make things easier? Use this to pinpoint issues with REAL requests from Alexa in your skills!

And if VS Code is not your cup of tea, we also have a tutorial for WebStorm.

Hope that helps – please reach out to us in Slack or Gitter if you have any questions!

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