prereq Before diving in, there are a few prerequisites that must be satisfied. Happily, once these requirements are satisfied, we can focus on coding our Alexa Skills and not concentrate on the environment. Let’s get started.

Users Accounts

See also

Additional beneficial reading on getting started with Alexa Skill development can be found here with the Amazon provided documentation.


The AWS Account creation will require a credit card however the Free Tier will be more than sufficient for getting started with all our Alexa Skills.

Also note that although not strictly required it is a best practice to secure your AWS Root account.

Pip Installs

Once we have our accounts setup the next step is to Installing Ask Amy, for those with a Python 3.+ environment already configured for development this should be a very simple process of calling pip install ask_amy.

$ pip install ask_amy

The next prerequisite is setting up integration with Amazon Web Services. Our primary integration tool will be the AWS CLI (Command Line Interface) which should also be a simple install if you have a fully functioning Python 3.+ environment.

$ pip install awscli


Additional Amazon CLI documentation can be found here:

Add AWS User

With AWS CLI installed we now need to configure the environment to work with ASK Amy. We will need to create an AWS user that can support our development needs. To do so login to the AWS Console with a user who’s credentials are capable of creating additional Users.

Navigate to the IAM Add user page

01 Add

Fill in User name Alexa_Skill_User and select Programmatic Access and click Next:Permissions


02 Permissions

For Permissions select Attach Existing Policies Directly use the Filter Policy Type search field select AWSLambdaFullAccess and IAMFullAccess for the Policies. These permissions can be modified later based upon need however the initial settings should provide sufficient access without opening the permissions to wide. Select Next:Review



IAM Policy administration is a complex subject and more advanced users may choose to further restrict the IAM Policies by creating an inline policy with the below definition or choose other more advanced techniques for administering policies that are beyond the scope of our current needs and this documentation.

"Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
            "Resource": "*"

03 Review

Review the selections ensure that the permissions and AWS access type are correct and click Create User


04 Complete

Select Download .csv and save the file to a secure location on you local device.


AWS CLI Configure

With our newly created user we are now ready to configure the AWS CLI environment. To do so enter a command shell and type aws configure. If this is your first time executing aws configure it will look similar to the below shell window. Open the credentials .cvs file that we downloaded in the last step and copy and paste the Access Key ID and Secret Access Key into the appropriate prompts. select us-east-1 for your default region and text as the default output format.

$ aws configure
AWS Access Key ID [None]: ***************
AWS Secret Access Key [None]: ***************
Default region name [None]: us-east-1
Default output format [None]: text

AWS Lambda Role

Our final configuration step will be to create a Role for our Alexa Skills to assume when they are executing. This role will provide permission to DynamoDB and Cloudwatch Logs. You can create the Role by executing the following command ask-amy-cli create_role –role-name alexa_skill_role. The output should look similar to the below shell window.

$ ask-amy-cli create_role --role-name alexa_skill_role
     "iam_create_role": {
         "Role": {
             "RoleName": "alexa_skill_role",
             "Arn": "arn:aws:iam::**********73:role/alexa_skill_role",
             "Path": "/",
             "AssumeRolePolicyDocument": {
                 "Version": "2012-10-17",
                 "Statement": [
                         "Effect": "Allow",
                         "Principal": {
                             "Service": ""
                         "Action": "sts:AssumeRole"
             "RoleId": "A**********C5HHRBYID4",
             "CreateDate": "2017-07-22T14:59:57.594Z"
     "iam_attach_policy_cloud_watch": {},
     "iam_attach_policy_dynamo": {}


Take note of the arn:aws:iam::**********73:role/alexa_skill_role we will need this ARN (Amazon Resource Name) later when configuring our skills for deployment


Congratulations you now have a fully configured ASK Amy environment and you are ready to accelerate your coding of Alexa Skills!