Here we look at how to implement the most common types of prompts. For more information on conversation design see the Voice User Interface Design Guidelines.

Open Ended Questions

Sometimes after a Skill finishes speaking, we want to activate the microphone and let the utterance be handled as usual

It is possible to speak some dialog, and activate the listener, directing the response back to the standard intent parsing engine. We may do this to let the user trigger another Skill, or because we want to make use of our own intents to handle the response.

To do this, we use the expect_response parameter of self.speak and self.speak_dialog methods expose a keyword argument to trigger listening once TTS has finished playback

from ovos_workshop.skills import OVOSSkill
from ovos_workshop.decorators import intent_handler

class AskMeSkill(OVOSSkill):
    def handle_set_favorite(self):
        question = random.choice(self.question_list)
        self.speak(question, expect_response=True)

Request Extra Information

Any Skill can request extra information from the user before continuing - making a statement or asking a question before the microphone is activated to record the User's response.

The base implementation of this is the get_response() method

To see it in action, let's create a simple Skill that asks the User what their favorite flavor of ice cream is.

from ovos_workshop.skills import OVOSSkill
from ovos_workshop.decorators import intent_handler

class IceCreamSkill(OVOSSkill):
    def handle_set_favorite(self):
        favorite_flavor = self.get_response('')
        self.speak_dialog('confirm.favorite.flavor', {'flavor': favorite_flavor})

In this Skill we have used get_response() and passed it the name of our dialog file ''. This is the simplest form of this method. It will speak dialog from the given file, then activate the microphone for 3-10 seconds allowing the User to respond. The transcript of their response will then be assigned to our variable favorite_flavor. To confirm that we have heard the User correctly we then speak a confirmation dialog passing the value of favorite_flavor to be spoken as part of that dialog.

Optional Arguments

The get_response() method also takes the following optional arguments:

  • data (dict) - used to populate the dialog file, just like speak_dialog()
  • validator (function) - returns a boolean to define whether the response meets some criteria for success
  • on_fail (function) - returns a string that will be spoken if the validator returns False
  • num_retries (int) - number of times the system should repeat the question to get a successful result

Yes / No Questions

ask_yesno() checks if the response contains "yes" or "no" like phrases.

A longer phrase containing the required vocab is considered successful e.g. both "yes" and "yeah that would be great thanks" would be considered a successful "yes".

If "yes" or "no" responses are detected, then the method will return the string "yes" or "no". If the response does not contain "yes" or "no" vocabulary then the entire utterance will be returned.

If no speech was detected indicating the User did not respond, or said something unexpected, then the method will return None.

None indicates an invalid answer, this tells the skill it should handle the error, such as by asking the question again

Let's add a new intent to our IceCreamSkill to see how this works.

from ovos_workshop.skills import OVOSSkill
from ovos_workshop.decorators import intent_handler

class IceCreamSkill(OVOSSkill):
    def handle_do_you_like(self):
        likes_ice_cream = self.ask_yesno('')
        if likes_ice_cream == 'yes':
        elif likes_ice_cream == 'no':

In this example we have asked the User if they like ice cream. We then speak different dialog whether they respond yes or no. We also speak some error dialog if neither yes nor no are returned.

A dedicated parser for each language is provided by ovos-lingua-franca, ensuring we can understand nuances such as double negation

Some example sentences that would be considered either "yes" or "no".

Test Utterance Expected Result
"beans" None
"yes" "yes"
"no" "no"
"don't think so" "no"
"i think not" "no"
"that's affirmative" "yes"
"no, but actually, yes" "yes"
"yes, but actually, no" "no"
"yes, yes, yes, but actually, no" "no"
"please" "yes"
"please don't" "no"
"no! please! I beg you" "no"
"yes, i don't want it for sure" "no"
"please! I beg you" "yes"
"i want it for sure" "yes"
"obviously" "yes"
"indeed" "yes"
"no, I obviously hate it" "no"
"that's certainly undesirable" "no"
"yes, it's a lie" "yes"
"no, it's a lie" "no"
"he is lying" "no"
"correct, he is lying" "yes"
"it's a lie" "no"
"you are mistaken" "no"
"that's a mistake" "no"
"wrong answer" "no"
"it's not a lie" "yes"
"he is not lying" "yes"
"you are not mistaken" "yes"
"tou are not wrong" "yes"

Providing a list of options

ask_selection() provides a list of options to the User for them to select from. The User can respond with either the name of one of these options or select with a numbered ordinal eg "the third".

This method automatically manages fuzzy matching the users response against the list of options provided.

It also understands "numeric" responses, such as "the first option", "the third one", "option 4", "the last one"

Let's jump back into our IceCreamSkill to give the User a list of options to choose from.

from ovos_workshop.skills import OVOSSkill
from ovos_workshop.decorators import intent_handler

class IceCreamSkill(OVOSSkill):
    def initialize(self):
        self.flavors = ['vanilla', 'chocolate', 'mint']

    def handle_request_icecream(self):
        selection = self.ask_selection(self.flavors, 'what.flavor')
        self.speak_dialog('coming.right.up', {'flavor': selection})

In this example we first speak some welcome.dialog. The list of flavors is then spoken, followed by the what.flavor.dialog. Finally, we confirm the Users selection by speaking coming.right.up.dialog

Optional arguments

There are two optional arguments for this method.

min_conf (float) defines the minimum confidence level for fuzzy matching the Users response against the list of options. numeric (bool) if set to True will speak the options as a numbered list eg "One, vanilla. Two, chocolate. Or three, mint"