Drupal, Alexa, and Big Mouth Billy Bass Walk into a Bar

Want to learn how to connect content from Drupal 8 to Amazon's Alexa?

The Internet of Things revolution has ushered in a wave of “Smart Home” devices and gadgets, and with it, new opportunities for creative hacking and software development. The Amazon Echo suite of devices, using the Internet-connected conversational interface commonly known as “Alexa”, is backed by a developer-friendly ecosystem with open source tools, documentation, tutorials, code examples, and a free (as in no-cost) open invitation to developers to create “Custom Alexa Skills” that anyone can download and use with their Echo devices (akin to downloading an app to a smartphone).

While Amazon Alexa developers can use an Amazon-hosted AWS Lambda endpoint for their Alexa Skill, it is possible to provide a custom RESTful endpoint that returns a response that Alexa can understand and speak. Drupal 8 makes it easier than ever to create web services endpoints for a variety of consuming applications.

This session will be an amalgamation of creative software and hardware hacking using Alexa, a Drupal 8 website of fish jokes, and a hacked Big Mouth Billy Bass animatronic fish.

In this session, we will demonstrate:

  • An Echo Dot (Alexa) telling fish jokes through Big Mouth Billy Bass via a Custom Alexa Skill getting data from a Drupal 8 website
  • Highlights of the Custom Alexa Skill creation process, to see how we need to construct our endpoint in Drupal
  • A comparison of several ways to create a Drupal 8 Web Services endpoint that Alexa understands using:
    • Views
    • A custom module using object-oriented PHP
    • JSON API contributed module (hopefully soon to be in core!)
  • A brief look “under the fish” at the hardware connections with Arduino and the Echo Dot and how the Arduino Sketch (code) works

By the end of the session you will be able to:

  • Know how to get started creating your own Custom Alexa Skill
  • Create your own web services endpoints using Drupal 8 using one or more methods demonstrated in this session

This session combines good clean fun and creativity with a variety of software and hardware. Developers, site builders, and tinkerers of all skill levels will be inspired to dive in and make their own creative hacks.

Amber Matz is an enthusiastic tinkerer of hardware and a long-time web developer. She writes and records tutorials and manages content production for Drupalize.Me, a leading source of Drupal training. Lately she has been obsessed with hacking animatronic fish with an Echo Dot, which, by the way, is freaking hilarious.

Blake Hall has been working with Drupal for over a decade. These days he’s especially interested in web services and helping build Drupal-based APIs. By day he does development and training for Drupalize.Me. In the evenings, when he’s not busy playing My Little Ponies with his daughter, he can be found golfing, watching hockey, or trying to teach himself more about machine learning.

Session Track


Experience level


Drupal Version

Drupal 8 (current)

Session Time Slot(s)

04/27/2017 - 10:45 to 04/27/2017 - 11:45
308 - Pantheon