Andlo is a long-term member of the Community. He has created a whole range of Skills including fun and informative Skills like the ISS Tracker and FairyTalez, development tools like THEIA IDE and a Remote Debugger, and Skills to enable the AIY Voice Kit or the Autovolume Skill. He also maintains an independent listing of Community built Skills that are not yet in the official Marketplace. Most recently Andlo created the Radio Skill that connects to Radio-Browser.info.
Andlo is a constant presence in the Mycroft Community Forums and Chat, always helping others with configuring their devices, using the development tools he’s made, and helping new developers to understand the finer points of Skill development. He has also made a number of contributions to Mycroft-core like Danish language support.
Through this blog series we are meeting some of the people that make up our Open Source Community. To hear about what they have built with Mycroft, and why they got involved. We are very grateful for the time and expertise Andlo has been able to share with the Mycroft Community, and excited to hear more about him and his work.
Hi Andlo, first up, thanks for all of your contributions to Mycroft! You’ve done so much, but what got you interested in Mycroft to begin with?
I found Mycroft when I was playing with HomeAssistant and I wanted to add speech control. And here Mycroft is a perfect choice as it plays well with HomeAssistant, is made in Python like HomeAssistant, and is not a closed system like Google Home and Amazon Alexa.
Do you remember what your first contribution to Mycroft was, how did you get started? Was it answering questions in the Community Chat, writing a Skill or something else?
No, I do not remember what was the first contribution. But I am sure it was a small minor contribution. I do remember the joy and pride I felt when my first Skill was accepted in the Marketplace and later when my PR’s for the project and other Skills were merged. It gave me a feeling of being part of something and a pride that I make something others can use. It’s still giving me that feeling.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your contributions or things that you have made?
I don’t know….mostly when my input gets others on the right path to figure out their problems. And the Auto-Volume Skill as it was pretty difficult for me at that time to make.
You’ve contributed so many Skills, but you’re not a Python developer yourself. What advice do you have for others who are wanting to make their own Skill but may not have worked with Python?
Correct – I am not a programmer. But I have been working with computers forever, and Linux and scripting etc. so I do know how to read code others have made and sometimes change that a bit.
I have always wanted to be a programmer, but every time I want to make something, there is someone else that has made it already and often in a better way than I thought of. But through Mycroft I saw a chance as there aren’t that many Skills yet in the market. So I just had to get started making Skills, and with fantastic help through the community it got me (and pushed me) further and further. So from the Hello World Skill to my first Skill it was fun and I learned a lot from that.
I think the best way to get started making Skills is by reading the docs and following the Hello World example. If one hasn’t worked with Python before that is definitely the way to go. And then ask and read and try and try.
One of my problems was that I started by SSH into my Picroft and making Skills through terminal and nano. And If I asked in Chat for what some function takes as parameters I always got a fast reply. How did others know this I thought.. And then I figured out they were using an IDE that helped them in all sorts of ways including popups for parameters and hints and stuff like that.
That was when I decided that Mycroft needed a complete easy to setup Development environment. So I first made a Cloud9 Skill and from there I went to Theia IDE skill that does install a complete IDE and everything for the user right on the Mycroft device, ready for skill making.
What are you working on at the moment? What’s coming next?
Right now I mostly am waiting for the Mark II as I want to try making stuff for the screen. I also want to work on more danish translations of core and Skills.
Finally, why do you think open source voice technologies are important?
Openness is a key value in human interactions. Hiding knowledge and information isn’t a way to evolve. I think it applies to humans, technology, governments etc. Openness and transparency is a good way to respect and understand one another and the world we are living in.
Is there anything else you want to add before we wrap up?
I can highly advise to look into my work and others work on Github. Most of what I learn I do by looking at how others have done similar stuff. To find other people and repos that hold Mycroft Skills I made a tool that searches Github and locates relevant repos. Then extracting info and combining that to a Gitbook for easy search gives an easy way to find examples and Skills that can help to inspire.
It is not yet automatically updated, but some time in the future I will make a Skill for my picroft that updates the list every 24 hours. And then make a Skill that tells the user when new Skills are in the market, pending market, or someone has made a new repo and so on.
What I think needs to be made is documentation on how to use Github – how to clone and fork and make PR’s to Skills and to Mycroft Core. This isn’t easy for new users to figure out and I still make mistakes and funny stuff using Github. But help is always in the Forum and Chat 🙂
I also would like to see videos on how to install and setup Mycroft, make Skills and how to use Github.
Thanks, Andlo! We very much appreciate all the work you do for Mycroft. It’s great to hear what drives you, and your top tips for others getting started with Mycroft. We’ll keep working on that documentation, and hopefully over time we can extend this with video tutorials!
Gez is the Director of Developer Relations at Mycroft. He comes from the land down under, has a strange love of crocodiles, and one day hopes to play the ukulele. If he’s not hanging out in our Community Chat and Forums, he is probably getting lost in the bush.