I come from a background of coding in the Microsoft World, and as a result I have been spoiled by the development and debugging support that are given by Visual Studio. Throughout the years Visual Studio has evolved into one of the better environments for creating code.
Write code, test and debug all without having to leave the environment or deploy. Everything is done locally until you are ready to release code to a different world, such as QA or Production.
When I started developing Custom Alexa Skills, I quickly became frustrated with writing the Skill Service portion of my Skill with the browser based Lambda Code Editor that Amazon provides. Equally challenging was debugging by writing to the Cloud Watch Logs.
With the introduction of the ASK-CLI and Version 2 of the Node.js SDK, it looked to me like it would be possible to start doing local development, but I struggled with getting everything setup.
Now I would be embarrassed to tell you how much time I actually spent on this, but I am happy to say that all of my Alexa Skill Development is now done in a local development environment complete with debugging and break points that actually stop the code and allow me to have a look at what is going on.
I have created a 60 page document that goes into great depth about how to set up a Local Alexa Skills Development Environment. Lots of screen shots and clear instructions on how to start from scratch and get everything working. This document covers installing and configuring Node.js, Visual Studio Code, the Alexa CLI and a third party offering called BeSpoken Tools. Once everything is installed and configured I cover how to locally create and debug a simple Alexa Skill.
At the end of the day, once everything is working you will be able to launch your Alexa Skill by Voice from an Alexa Device or via the Alexa Skills Console and have your local Skill Service Lambda code stop on a chosen break point.
I am pleased to make these instructions available to assist others in setting up a Local Alexa Skills Development Environment.
If you would like a copy of the pdf file, click on the link below