•   over 1 year ago

Contest entry in danger due to bugs in the Alexa platform.

I want to make a record that as of today I have lost nearly 2 days due to bugs in the Alexa and AWS/Lambda platform, 2 days I could not afford to lose. There have been numerous intermittent and fatal failures with the Alexa servers being unable to contact our server and reporting randomly INVALID_RESPONSE errors when contacting my server, yet my server logs show absolutely no activity. I know the server is working because any other request I make to it works fine. Only Alexa has trouble contacting it and now it has started throwing off other errors indicating corruption in some of the data tables related to my skill and/or account on the Alexa/AWS side..

All of these problems trace back to severe flaws in the Alexa architecture's invocation name dispatchers. For some reason I have hit this problem hard and it has completely incapacitated my app and halted development. I have tried everything possible and as of now I am dead in the water. As I said, it goes from working perfectly and then to not at all without warning. Now everything has degraded to no response at all making development impossible. At this point I am beginning to suspect my entire Alexa and/or AWS account is broken. It is just too time consuming to create a brand new Alexa Skill and Lambda function pair over and over, just to have it work perfectly for about a 1/2 hour, begin to degrade, and then totally fail again. I have gone through that entire process nearly 4 times now and tried many other variants just to get things working again.

For several lengthy unanswered posts on this subject that describe in detail the problems I am having, please search the official Alexa Skills forum for the post titled:

"Alexa is using the wrong skill ID when making requests (urgent: contest deadline looming)"

I'd post a link but I'm afraid it will get this post held for moderation. Note, it would have been nice if some staff had been assigned to monitor the official forum more closely right before the deadline of a contest directly related to Alexa skills.

As it is, as of right now, I am looking at a year and half worths of work on my favorite voice app platform going down the drain. There are many words to describe this current situation, "fair" isn't one of them.

  • 7 comments

  •   •   over 1 year ago

    Sorry to hear about the troubles you've been having. Not sure how much I can help, and you may have already tried it, but what about changing the invocation name for the time being while you're doing your development?

    I'd also suggest joining one or more of the slack groups. Not sure how it compares to the forums as far as responsiveness, but it's one more avenue to explore.

  •   •   over 1 year ago

    Thanks Franklin. I have changed the invocation name. Many, many times. It's now in a middling state where I have to change it every 30 minutes to about a half hour, but it could go back to being completely non-functional again like it was before at any moment. My current hunch is that whenever the simulator changes the ID, the troubles start to set in again. The simulator user ID change seems to co-occur with the auto-logout that the Alexa dev console does. About a day ago they upped the frequency of forcing a logout to about once every 1 or 2 hours, at least for me.

    Any way you look at it I lost 2 days completely because of this and now I am still trying to push through with this unstable environment, but as you can imagine it's slowing me down badly and could easily result in me missing the contest deadline.

  •   •   over 1 year ago

    I figured you had tried that, but figured I'd ask. To avoid the console timeout, have you tried using the CLI? 'ask dialog' is pretty handy.

  •   •   over 1 year ago

    Thanks Franklin. I have the ASK CLI installed, but I never tried "ask dialog". I'll give that a try.

  •   •   over 1 year ago

    One word of caution - testing ISP's from `ask dialog` isn't fully supported (yet?). Sending the Connections.SendRequest results in this error: "This utterance did not resolve to any intent in your skill.". Calls to the Monetization service for entitlement status work just fine. You'll just need to use the console or a device to test the request/response for the purchase flow.

    Despite this,hopefully things get better for you.

  • Manager   •   over 1 year ago

    Hi Robert - I'm really sorry to hear you're having these issues. I'll definitely pass your question on to Amazon. I know it's short notice now, but there is a Twitch Office Hours for this contest planned today (https://alexaisp.devpost.com/updates/11557-have-last-minute-questions-join-our-twitch-office-hours-for-in-skill-purchasing-monday-11-11-9am-pt) Perhaps you can get a quicker response.

    Thanks to Franklin, too! Appreciate you sharing your technical knowledge with a dev in need.

    Stefanie

  • Manager   •   over 1 year ago

    Hey Robert,

    I just wanted to follow up. The team told me they've replied to the post you mentioned on the Alexa forum. Take a look at that for a more detailed technical response.

    Thanks,
    Stefanie

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