Dustin Coates in Alexa

Skill events for the Alexa Skills Kit

With Amazon’s recent announcement, devs building Alexa skills have an entirely new event type to listen for. For the first time, we have events that are not triggered for a given intent or other action that happens directly with an Alexa device. These are events that instead happen “off-session,” or when a user is not direclty interacting with the skill.

These skill events are:

- User links account to skill
- User enables skill
- User disables skill
- User adds a permission to a skill
- User changes a permission for a skill

These events aren’t very exciting for the weekend skill builder. For companies or groups who are building a skill into their existing ecosystem or building a large-scale skill, these are huge. Let’s examine why.

Take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of a developer or product manager who pitched building an Alexa skill to your bosses at Water Water Water, the leading bottled water somelier-as-a-service. The user statistics in the Amazon developer console are good enough to show your boss that voice was a worthwhile experience, but Water Water Water already has a dashboard with all of the key statistics and you want your skill usage in there. Now you can send data via the skill events over to wherever you store the information that goes up on the giant display. Everyone congratulates you and you get a raise and a promotion. Life is good.

There are a number of different scenarios in which these events would be useful for a skill that needs lifecycle data. However, know that any skill that wants to subscribe to skill events must be configured using the Skill Management API (SMAPI). You don’t need a new skill; existing skills can have this configuration added on.