We at Mycroft are embarking on a platform-wide effort to improve the user experience. Our user base is expanding beyond software developers and hobbyists. This places greater importance on Mycroft’s software being accessible and usable by anyone, not just those comfortable with a Linux command line and ‘git’.
A major aspect of the Mycroft user experience is the web applications that support the open-source voice assistant software. They provide the ability to manage your profile, decide which voice you want to use, and apply settings to the Skills installed on your Devices. Mycroft’s web applications also provide platform documentation, a user forum, language translation capabilities, interactive chat and much more.
One feature not mentioned above is the ability to browse available Skills and install them onto your devices. This experience used to consist of a button you could click on that would redirect you to a list of Skills in Github and an install Skill setting that allowed you to install a single Skill. Sound like a user experience that needs a facelift? We thought so too.
That’s why back in October, we launched the Mycroft Skill Marketplace. We advertised it quietly on the newsletter and Mycroft Home as Skill Authors got used to the testing and submission processes. Now that the 19.02 release is bringing the rest of our web applications up to date, let’s take a look at the marketplace as an exemplar of what’s to come.
This Marketplace provides a clean and simple way to find Skills and the capabilities of the Mycroft ecosystem. Interested individuals can see what Mycroft devices are capable of before purchasing a device or installing the software. Existing users can sign in via their Home account to install Skills directly to their devices from the web interface. Forthcoming releases will also support full visibility and management of Skills installed on all their devices.
Seen above is the Marketplace landing page, which should be instantly familiar and comfortable to most. The Marketplace is the first Mycroft web application to feature the new Single Sign-On technology described in my last blog post. Of course, until more Mycroft web applications are adapted to use this feature, single sign-on really means there is only a single site you can sign into, the Marketplace! However, the Marketplace does use the same login credentials you already have created for Home.
Each Skill is represented by a card containing (from top to bottom) an icon representing the Skill, the name of the Skill, some of the utterances to trigger the Skill, a brief summary of the Skill’s ability, and an add/remove button. Skills developed and supported by the Mycroft team will have a small Mycroft icon in the upper left corner. With the add button, you no longer need to guess how to phrase a voice install request.
The current behavior of the add button is to install the Skill on all of your devices. However, a future release will add the ability to select target devices. You can install multiple skills at a time. Skill install progress is noted on the site. Additionally, you can use the voice trigger displayed in the marketplace to test if the skill made it to your device. Skill installation can take up to two minutes.
What’s that you say? You need more information about a Skill than what fits on that little card? The Marketplace has you covered. Click on any Skill card and the Marketplace will navigate you to a screen with a plethora of detailed information on the Skill:
The Mycroft Marketplace may only allow you to view and install Skills right now, but we have big plans for its future. In addition to the aforementioned upcoming enhancements, future iterations of the Marketplace will allow Skill developers to charge users for premium Skills. The team will also be adding the ability to shop for voices, Mycroft hardware, and other Mycroft merchandise. We will keep you updated as these features are added.
You probably noticed that the Marketplace has a different look and feel than other Mycroft web applications. The Marketplace has been the first step of an overhaul of our entire web presence. We are using material design as a basis for the new look. Look for other Mycroft web applications to follow suit in the near future. The application is also running a new software stack supported by a new infrastructure. Details about the new stack and why we chose it will be the subject of a future blog post.
Another part of the overhaul is to revisit how users navigate through the various web applications. Users will get a glimpse of the new navigation when we roll out the redesigned home.mycroft.ai site soon.
We hope you will take some time to check out the new Marketplace and kick the tires a bit. You can let us know if you find anything hinky in the forums. Thank you all for your continued support of the Mycroft Community!
Chris is a clean code evangelist with more than twenty years experience in various software engineering disciplines. He enjoys the challenge of working in startup environments. As a Software Architect at Mycroft AI, he works with the development team to identify and implement the technologies used in the websites and APIs that complement the core voice assistant software.