Blog posts tagged with 'alexa'

Session Attributes


Session attributes can be treated like special variables which you can use to store and retreive information across various intents.

Why is this important?

Variables declared inside your intents using 'var', 'const' or 'let' are scoped within those intents, meaning you can no longer call those variables once the intent is over.

Session attributes are global, meaning you can retreive their data from within any intent.

How do I use them?

The first recommended step is to get the sessionAttributes path using the following line:

const sessionAttributes = handlerInput.attributesManager.getSessionAttributes();

This line essentially just saves you from typing the entire path every time. The location it points to is where you can get existing session attributes, or make new ones.

Now you can make a new session attribute and set its value.

sessionAttributes.<VARIABLE NAME> = <VALUE HERE>;


sessionAttributes.myVariable = "test string"; // remember this variable -- we will call it later!

This is similar to declaring a variable using 'var', 'const' or 'let'.

The value can be anything you want. You should set the value to be something which you want the skill to remember and use across various intents.

Finally, you need to set the session attributes which you have declared. Do so using this line of code:


This line always comes next, and is necessary for your session attributes to be saved.

To call sessionAttributes from within a different intent, you first need to get sessionAttributes again:

const sessionAttributes = handlerInput.attributesManager.getSessionAttributes();

Now you can recall any of your session attributes like this:

sessionAttributes.<VARIABLE NAME>



To test this, you could use console.log() to check the value of myVariable.

console.log(sessionAttributes.myVariable); // output: "test string"

Practical example

Get, then set.

const sessionAttributes = handlerInput.attributesManager.getSessionAttributes();

sessionAttributes.forename = "john";

sessionAttributes.surname = "smith";

sessionAttributes.favColour = "blue";


The next step is retreiving your session attributes from a different intent.

First, get the sessionAttributes.

const sessionAttributes = handlerInput.attributesManager.getSessionAttributes();

Now you can retreive your sessionAttributes like this:

console.log(sessionAttributes.forename); // output: "john"

console.log(sessionAttributes.surname); // output: "smith"

console.log(sessionAttributes.favColour); // output: "blue"

Further reading

Learning to use APIs with Wikipedia



API stands for “application programming interface”.

When you send a request to an endpoint, its API will interpret your request and then perform the action you have specified.

In this scenario, “endpoint” is the URL which we use to make requests.


I will be using the MediaWiki API in order to demonstrate how we can request information from English Wikipedia:

The endpoint we will send our requests to will be:



How do I specify what information I want?


Let’s say we want to get the first few lines from the Wikipedia page about Amazon Alexa.

In order to tell the API what we want, we need to add some parameters to the endpoint.


We start the string of parameters with a question mark.

Then, if you have multiple parameters, connect them using the “&” symbol.


Here is a snippet of JavaScript code which makes our request slightly easier to read and construct.

const myPageTitle = “Amazon_Alexa”;

const endpoint = ""

const params = “?action=query” // query is one possible action.

+ “&prop=extracts” // “extracts” is the name of an extension used by many wikis.

+ “&exsentences=3” // this lets you get the first 3 sentences from a page.

+ “&exlimit=1”⠀

+ “&titles=” + myPageTitle// this lets you specify which page you want information from.

+ “&explaintext=1” // means “extracts plain text”, which is human-friendly for reading.

+ “&format=json” // the data will be returned in JSON format

+ “&formatversion=2” // the JSON will be easier to navigate using index notation

+ “&origin=*”; // prevents a CORS error

Now we have a complete URL which we can use to make our request:

const alexaWikiUrl = endpoint + params;⠀

console.log(alexaWikiUrl); // output:*

Try visiting the link in your browser!

You will be presented with the information which would be returned if you were to make the request using code.


In order to make API calls using your Alexa skill, you need to install a package which lets you do so.

There are many choices, but I recommend either node fetch or Axios. Node fetch appears to be more commonly used, but Axios is easier for me personally.

Here is an example of what a fetch request might look like using node fetch:

const wikiEndpoint = '';

const wikiParams = "?action=query"

+ "&prop=extracts"

+ "&exsentences=3"

+ "&exlimit=1"

+ "&titles=" + "Amazon_Alexa"

+ "&explaintext=1"

+ "&format=json"

+ "&formatversion=2"

+ "&origin=*";

const myUrl = wikiEndpoint + wikiParams;



async function getData(url){

let res = await fetch(url);

let data = res.json();

return data;



getData(myUrl).then(data => {



If you were to use Axios, it might look something like this:

async function getWikiData(){

const wikiEndpoint = '';

const wikiParams = "?action=query"

+ "&prop=extracts"

+ "&exlimit=1"

+ "&exsentences=3"

+ "&titles=" + "Amazon_Alexa"

+ "&explaintext=1"

+ "&format=json"

+ "&formatversion=2"

+ "&origin=*";

const wikiLink = wikiEndpoint + wikiParams;


var wikiConfig = {

timeout: 6500


async function getJsonResponse(url, config){

const res = await axios.get(url, config);



return getJsonResponse(wikiLink, wikiConfig).then((result) => {

return result;

}).catch((error) => {

return null;



const wikiData = await getWikiData();

const wikiOutput = wikiData.query.pages[0].extract;


In both cases, the first 3 sentences from will be logged.

The code in the node fetch example should work in your browser console.

If you want to test it out, try using this code and experimenting by changing some parameters.

Axios isn’t so easy to test, but the provided example works when implemented correctly, and should be able to serve as a good foundation.

Useful resources