As mentioned here before I’m heavily relying on Todoist to stay organized. And I have a pretty detailed set of recurring tasks reminding me of things like taking dietary supplements or watering the flowers.

However it’s troublesome to take out the cell phone, unlock it and tick off the item on Todoist after e.g. watering the flowers. As I’m currently experimenting with having Amazon Echos in my flat I wondered if it’d be feasible to ask Alexa to close the Todoist item. Turns out it is pretty simple to do, aside from one caveat: every custom skill has a so-called invocation name and it must be part of the invocation utterance.

So I decided to invoke like this:

Alexa, tell James that I just watered the flowers.

So first of all you need an own custom skill, in this case named James – which is never going to be published, just used in developer mode. Then you need to provide at least one intent, e.g. FlowersWateredIntent, along with some sample utterances (in this case things like that I just watered the flowers). All this can be done in Amazon’s Developer Services Portal.

Then Huginn has to be configured, we need three agents (actually 1 + 2n where n is the number of intents to handle):

  1. one WebhookAgent that simply provides an endpoint for the Alexa skill to call, set payload_path to a single dot
  2. one TriggerAgent per intent that shall be handled, matching on the name of the intent. The rules array should look like this:
    "rules": [
             "type": "field==value",
             "value": "FlowersWateredIntent",
             "path": "name"
  3. an agent to perform the requested task, in my case a TodoistCloseItemAgent with id set to the item id of the item I’d like to be closed upon invocation

Last but not least we need some glue between Alexa Skills Kit and Huginn. The easiest approach is a AWS Lambda function like this, which after all is a straight forward, minimalist Alexa skill handler simply passing all incoming request forward:

/* eslint-disable  func-names */
/* eslint quote-props: ["error", "consistent"]*/

'use strict';
const Alexa = require('alexa-sdk');

// Replace with your app ID (OPTIONAL).  You can find this value at the top
// of your skill's page on
const APP_ID = 'amzn1.ask.skill.3dbd7451-5830-4b20-a2d6-d1ab0387119e';

const HELLO_MESSAGE = 'Hey, schön, dass du da bist. Das nächste mal sag einfach gleich was du von mir willst.';
const OK_MESSAGE = 'Okay';
const FAIL_MESSAGE = 'Irgendwie hat das nicht geklappt, Sorry!';
const HELP_MESSAGE = 'Hilf dir selbst, nur dann hilft dir England!';
const STOP_MESSAGE = 'Bye bye cruel world!';

const https = require('https');
const post_options = { 
    host: 'hostname.of.your.huginn.tld',
    port: 443,
    path: '/users/2/web_requests/67/allofthebeautifulandreallyloooooooooooongrandomtokengoeshere',
    method: 'POST',
    headers: {
        'Content-Type': 'application/json'

const handlers = {
    'LaunchRequest': function () {
    'Unhandled': function () {
        const data = JSON.stringify(this.event.request.intent);
        post_options.headers['Content-Length'] = data.length;

        const post_request = https.request(post_options, (res) => {
            if (res.statusCode == 201) {
            } else {

    'AMAZON.HelpIntent': function () {
    'AMAZON.CancelIntent': function () {
    'AMAZON.StopIntent': function () {

exports.handler = function (event, context, callback) {
    const alexa = Alexa.handler(event, context, callback);
    alexa.APP_ID = APP_ID;

So if I now speak to Alexa the Alexa Skills Kit backend does the voice recognition and triggers the lambda function. This lambda function calls out to Huginn’s PostAgent endpoint which emits an event (that includes all of the data ASK forwarded, so you even can handle slots there). The TriggerAgent matches on this event and triggers the task to actually be done.