Strange Loop

Exploring Conversational Interfaces with Amazon Alexa and Go

Conversational interfaces are exploding in both development and use in 2016. Amazon's Alexa service and their Echo are at the forefront of this exciting new interaction model but Microsoft, Facebook and others have launched conversational bots recently. Who knows, maybe even Apple and Google will let us develop on their dueling voice assistant platforms soon!

These new platforms are challenging for developers both because of the platform diversity but also because conversational user interaction is very different than interacting with a GUI. What are the differences between these platforms? What's the best way to get started? What kind of apps work well with conversational interfaces? What are some ways to make your app as human as possible?

I've created several Slack integrations, worked with the Facebook Messenger bots API, developed applications on the Amazon Alexa service over the past year, and in 2015 I released go-alexa, a collection of libraries that help to create Alexa apps quickly in Go. In this talk we will cover the landscape of conversational applications, the major players and their platform strengths, some of the best practices I've learned, and walk through the creation of a basic Alexa Skill in Go.

Mike Flynn

Mike Flynn


Mike Flynn is the Chief Technology Officer at Studio71, an online video network, and was previously a Software Architect at, the author of a popular St. Louis blog, and a startup consultant. While currently writing a lot of Go for personal projects, Mike created Egg.js, a popular easter egg Javascript library, and has been an advocate for the Clojure language launching Clojure platforms for both Studio71 and Originally from St. Louis, Mike now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two kids and spends way too much time in his home office trying to inch a little closer to the Tony Stark / JARVIS nirvana we're all striving for.