Anatomy of a Skill

vocab, dialog, and locale directories

The dialog, vocab, and locale directories contain subdirectories for each spoken language the skill supports. The subdirectories are named using the IETF language tag for the language. For example, Brazilian Portuguese is 'pt-br', German is 'de-de', and Australian English is 'en-au'.

dialog and vocab have been deprecated, they are still supported, but we strongly recommend you use locale for new skills

inside the locale folder you will find subfolders for each language (e.g. en-us), often all you need to do in order to translate a skill is adding a new folder for your language here

each language folder can have the structure it wants, you may see files grouped by type in subfolder or all in the base folder

You will find several unfamiliar file extensions in this folder, but these are simple text files

  • .dialog files used for defining speech responses
  • .intent files used for defining Padatious Intents
  • .voc files define keywords primarily used in Adapt Intents
  • .entity files define a named entity primarily used in Padatious Intents

The file is where most of the Skill is defined using Python code.

Importing libraries

from adapt.intent import IntentBuilder
from mycroft import intent_handler
from ovos_workshop.skills import OVOSSkill

This section of code imports the required libraries. Some libraries will be required on every Skill, and your skill may need to import additional libraries.

Class definition

The class definition extends the OVOSSkill class:

class HelloWorldSkill(OVOSSkill):

The class should be named logically, for example "TimeSkill", "WeatherSkill", "NewsSkill", "IPaddressSkill". If you would like guidance on what to call your Skill, please join the skills Channel on OVOS Chat.

Inside the class, methods are then defined.


This method is the constructor. It is called when the Skill is first constructed. It is often used to declare state variables or perform setup actions, however it cannot utilise OVOSSkill methods as the class does not yet exist. You usually don't have to include the constructor.

An example __init__ method might be:

def __init__(self):
    self.already_said_hello = False
    self.be_friendly = True


Perform any final setup needed for the skill here. This function is invoked after the skill is fully constructed and registered with the system. Intents will be registered and Skill settings will be available.

If you need to access self.skill_id, self.bus, self.settings or self.filesystem you must do it here instead of __init__

def initialize(self):
    my_setting = self.settings.get('my_setting')


We can use the initialize function to manually register intents, however the @intent_handler decorator is a cleaner way to achieve this. We will learn all about the different Intents shortly.

You may also see the @intent_file_handler decorator used in Skills. This has been deprecated, and you can now replace any instance of this with the simpler @intent_handler decorator.

In skills we can see two different intent styles.

  1. An Adapt handler, triggered by a keyword defined in a ThankYouKeyword.voc file.
   def handle_thank_you_intent(self, message):
  1. A Padatious intent handler, triggered using a list of sample phrases.
   def handle_how_are_you_intent(self, message):

In both cases, the function receives two parameters:

  • self - a reference to the HelloWorldSkill object itself
  • message - an incoming message from the messagebus.

Both intents call the self.speak_dialog() method, passing the name of a dialog file to it. In this case welcome.dialog and


You will usually also have a stop() method.

The stop method is called anytime a User says "Stop" or a similar command. It is useful for stopping any output or process that a User might want to end without needing to issue a Skill specific utterance such as media playback or an expired alarm notification.

In the following example, we call a method stop_beeping to end a notification that our Skill has created.

    def stop(self):

If a Skill has any active functionality, the stop() method should terminate the functionality, leaving the Skill in a known good state.


The shutdown method is called during the Skill process termination. It is used to perform any final actions to ensure all processes and operations in execution are stopped safely. This might be particularly useful for Skills that have scheduled future events, may be writing to a file or database, or that have initiated new processes.

In the following example we cancel a scheduled event and call a method in our Skill to stop a subprocess we initiated.

    def shutdown(self):


The final code block in our Skill is the create_skill function that returns our new Skill:

def create_skill():
    return HelloWorldSkill()

This is required by OVOS and is responsible for actually creating an instance of your Skill that OVOS can load.

Please note that this function is not scoped within your Skills class. It should not be indented to the same level as the methods discussed above.


This file defines the settings UI that will be available to a User through a backend or companion app

Jump to Skill Settings for more information on this file and handling of Skill settings.

This file allows a skill to be installed just like any other python package. This means you can publish your skill on pypi or favorite package manager and use it as a dependency

A typical file looks like this

#!/usr/bin/env python3
from setuptools import setup
import os
from os import walk, path

# update this!
URL = ""
SKILL_CLAZZ = "AwesomeSkill"  # needs to match class name
PYPI_NAME = "skill-awesome-stuff"  # pip install PYPI_NAME

# below derived from github url to ensure standard skill_id
SKILL_AUTHOR, SKILL_NAME = URL.split(".com/")[-1].split("/")
SKILL_PKG = SKILL_NAME.lower().replace('-', '_')
# skill_id=package_name:SkillClass

def get_requirements(requirements_filename: str):
    requirements_file = path.join(path.abspath(path.dirname(__file__)),
    with open(requirements_file, 'r', encoding='utf-8') as r:
        requirements = r.readlines()
    requirements = [r.strip() for r in requirements if r.strip()
                    and not r.strip().startswith("#")]
    if 'MYCROFT_LOOSE_REQUIREMENTS' in os.environ:
        requirements = [r.replace('==', '>=').replace('~=', '>=') for r in requirements]
    return requirements

def find_resource_files():
    # add any folder with files your skill uses here! 
    resource_base_dirs = ("locale", "ui", "vocab", "dialog", "regex", "skill")
    base_dir = path.dirname(__file__)
    package_data = ["*.json"]
    for res in resource_base_dirs:
        if path.isdir(path.join(base_dir, res)):
            for (directory, _, files) in walk(path.join(base_dir, res)):
                if files:
                        path.join(directory.replace(base_dir, "").lstrip('/'),
    return package_data

# TODO - add description, author, email, license, etc
    # this is the package name that goes on pip
    package_dir={SKILL_PKG: ""},
    package_data={SKILL_PKG: find_resource_files()},
    keywords='ovos skill plugin',
    entry_points={'ovos.plugin.skill': PLUGIN_ENTRY_POINT}