Voice Design Tools

Developing your first voice application or virtual assistant can be quite an undertaking. You can code the application if you have the experience or a team to develop it for you. But what if you just want to do something simple or want to "play around" with voice applications to see what they can do?

First you need to decide what platform you are going to develop on, Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Both Amazon and Google have their own set of tools and code that you have to develop and manage if you want to reach users on both platforms. We recommend starting with Amazon Alexa.

Amazon Alexa

Amazon has been the company that is most active in promoting and supporting developers in the creation of voice applications. That is where most developers start and we will start our journey there as well. To develop a voice application on the Amazon Alexa platform you need to sign up for an Amazon Developer Account to build your voice front end, or Voice User Interface (VUI). The VUI typically consists of the questions that Alexa will ask.

If you are familiar with developing web based solutions, you know there is front end development work, aka your GUI, and back end development work. The code that runs, or executes based on the users interaction with the UI. Alexa development is very similar,

In addition to your VUI front end, you also need a backed service to answer the questions that Alexa asks. Therefore you also need to have a Amazon Web Services account to build and house your functions in Lambda, to provide the answers. This is typically developed in  Node.JS (a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine). Other languages are supported, however, Node is the most popular.

Alexa Skill Design Tools

If all this seems overwhelming, fear not, there are other alternatives. Voice design tools allow both non developers and developers the ability to build Amazon Alexa Skills based on their level of technical ability. Amazon has a list of tools on their web site located here. The tools as of this blog's publish date are:

  • Blutag
  • Conversation.One
  • Jovo
  • Orbita
  • Pullstring
  • Sayspring
  • Storyline
  • VoiceApps

People often ask "What is the best one?" Well there is no simple answer to that question, because the right one will be based on your development skill level, your industry and your budget.

Over the next few weeks we will be reviewing each of the Skill Building Tools to help you understand which "is the best one for you."