World Record Facts


World Record Facts is a skill on the Amazon Alexa Platform that returns a world record to the user when called. In order to call the skill, all you have to say is "Alexa, tell me a world record fact."


They were a few problems with getting this skill to work. I found the most difficult and frustrating part of the process was debugging issues with the skill. I think this is partially due to the fact that I've never used Amazon Web Services before. Also, the Alexa Platform is fairly new and there isn't as much documentation on bugs as there are with other devices or platforms. As far as the skill itself, there was an extremely helpful guide of a different fact skill that I followed online and used to help make this skill, however learning the nuances of Node.js was quite interesting.


In order to get your skill to work on the alexa platform, it is necessary to upload it to lambda on Amazon Web Services (AWS). This wasn't as easy as I expected because although it asked for a zipped file, when I zipped my folder I was getting an error when I tried to run the skill. What I ended up having to do was use the command line and use a command similar to this: `zip -r directory`. Now when I ran my tests, at times I would get errors of "The remote endpoint could not be called." This issue was caused by not properly setting up my skill to my lambda file. When creating the alexa skill, one must connect it properly to the lambda function. If this isn't done, then there will be errors. Once I started adjusting to AWS, the deployment and debugging of the skill became easier and easier.


The skill ended up coming together nicely. As of July 16th, 353 unique users have used the skill, and it has been called over 680 times. I think that was the most rewarding thing to see. As a developer to see people use something you made is the coolest feeling.


The alexa projects taught me a lot about the internet of things and the possible direction of development. Working with a computer that only responds by talking was a challenge in itself, but I found it rewarding to work with something different and to challenge myself and to continue to adapt to newer technologies.