We wanted to build an Alexa skill that provided UTD students with useful data, provided by scraping the University's website and Blackboard. This turned out to be a lot harder than expected.

How I built it

We tried to use AWS Lambda. For whatever reason, this didn't seem to work very well. The AWS people couldn't work out why it didn't work either. So that wasn't ideal.

Challenges I ran into

  • Accessing Lambda's logs appears to be impossible if you create the skill through the Alexa dashboard. You have to manually create the Lambda and then link it to the skill.
  • For whatever reason, we couldn't get Alexa to respond via voice. This isn't ideal when you're developing a voice assistant skill.
  • Couldn't figure out how to parse JSON files from URL using PHP due to HTTP authentication.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

  • We all learned a lot - whether that be the basics of Node.js for some team members, or how AWS/Lambda/Alexa works for others.

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