Releases

Testing your Actions with users gives you the opportunity to get early feedback and fix any technical or user experience issues before you release it widely. You can then be confident about releasing the best version of your Action to the rest of your users.

The Actions Console supports release environments so that you can give a limited set of users access to test a new Action, or newer version of your existing Action, before deploying it to the public.

Lifecycle of a release

The following diagram shows potential paths the lifecycle of an Action can take:

Diagram showing the possible lifecycle paths of releasing an Action
Figure 1. Lifecycle of an Action with release environments.

There are two types of release environments that the Actions Console supports:

  • Alpha: This channel should be used to quickly test early versions of your Action.

    • Lets you distribute your Action to a small set of users without going through a full Google review.
    • Users are given warnings that the Action hasn't undergone a Google review for policy compliance.
    • Ideal for internal testing.
  • Beta: This channel lets you distribute an Action to a limited set of users after passing a full Google review.

    • You should use this channel to give users outside your organization access to early versions of the Action.
    • Users will be informed that the Action is a preview version.
    • Since the beta version has passed Google review, you can elect to make it public at any time without another review by Google.

Release environment comparison

The table below summarizes the differences between the different deployment channels.

Simulator Alpha Beta Production
Intended audience Developer only. Early testers within your team, friends, and family. Testers outside of your team. All Google Assistant users.
Requires Google Review No. No. Yes. Yes.
Who has access Developer only. Developer-defined list of users. Users must opt in. Developer-defined list of users. Users must opt in. Publicly available to all Google Assistant users.
Max # of users 1 20 200 N/A
Where available Simulator and all Assistant devices. All Assistant devices. All Assistant devices. All Assistant devices.
Dialogflow Supported. Supported. Supported. Yes.
Actions SDK Supported. Supported. Supported. Yes.
Smart Home Supported (requires account linking). Not supported. Not supported. Yes.
Templates Supported. Not supported. Not supported. Yes.
Explicit invocation Supported. Supported. Supported. Yes.
Implicit invocation Supported. Supported. Supported. Yes.
Account linking Supported. Supported. Supported. Yes.

Set up alpha/beta releases

To set up your Action for the alpha or beta release channel, follow these steps:

  1. Click Deploy in the top menu then Release in the left menu.

    Screenshot of the manage releases page
    Figure 2. Actions Console (Manage Releases screen.)
  2. On the Manage Releases page, click on the button to submit for alpha or beta release.

  3. Select the languages for your release.

  4. Indicate you have completed the required steps from the release checklist and click Submit for Review.

  5. Click on the button to whitelist testers to try your alpha or beta version.

  6. Enter the email addresses for the testers. You can specify up to 20 testers for alpha testing and up to 200 testers for beta testing. Testers must have a Google account (@gmail.com) or a G Suite account.

  7. Click Save to complete your submission.

You should send an invitation email to whitelisted testers with a link to the alpha or beta version of your Action. To learn more, see Get feedback.

After the alpha or beta version is submitted, it appears in the Manage Releases page with a status (Under review, Denied, or Deployed).

The opt-in link represents your Action directory page and never changes. Your testers will be directed to your directory page and see the opt-in card for the eligible environment. If you whitelisted the same testers for alpha and beta, they are eligible for both and will see an opt-in card for the alpha version first.

Manage releases

Once you have submitted your Action to a release channel, you can still make further changes to manage users, test the version, or withdraw the version.

To perform these tasks:

  1. In the Manage Releases page, scroll to the section for the live alpha or beta release.
  2. Click the More more_vert icon.
  3. Select one of these options:

    • Deploy to Production. Deploys the beta version of your Action to production. This option is only available for versions that have been reviewed and approved by Google.
    • Undeploy. This unpublishes your live Action from the release channel that it was deployed to.
    • Test this version. Opens the Actions Console simulator to test this version of the Action.
    • Withdraw from review. Withdraws the request to review that version. The version will be listed in the overview table as ‘Not reviewed’. You can still submit it for review later or re-deploy to the alpha release channel.
    • Submit for Review. If your version in alpha is not reviewed yet, you can submit it for review to be deployed to beta or production.

Implement fulfillment for alpha/beta releases

The release channel information is not included in the HTTP request from the Assistant to your fulfillment. To handle release channels in your fulfillment, you should provide different fulfillment URLs (for example, one fulfillment URL for the beta and another URL for the production version of your Action).

Get feedback

Once your Action has been published to the alpha or beta release channel, you should invite whitelisted testers by sharing your opt-in link (which is the same as your directory link).

Make sure to indicate to your testers that they must:

  • Have the Google Assistant app downloaded on their mobile devices in order to perform alpha/beta testing.
  • Log in to the Google Assistant app using the same account which you whitelisted as an alpha/beta tester.

After you deploy your Action, any new testers that you added will need to wait for at least 3 hours before they can access the Action using the opt-in link.

When users click on this link, they are directed to the corresponding Action's directory page. They should click on the I'm in button at the bottom of the Action's directory page to opt in as a tester for the first time.

After the tester opts in on their phone, your Action will immediately be available on all of their devices. Testers will see your Action in the My Apps section of the Google Assistant app labelled with one of these modes: Alpha, Beta, or No testing. The No testing option will serve users the Production version of your Action if available. If there is no Production version, users will not be served with anything.

Best practices

  • Make sure users can join the tests. Your testers will need to have a Google account (@gmail.com) or a G Suite account to join a test.
  • Choose the appropriate testing type. An alpha testing group should be small and test the least stable, experimental versions of your actions (such as within your company or team). Use beta testing with a larger group to test stable versions of your actions that are near release.
  • Provide a channel for testers to send you feedback. Alpha and beta channels are only available to your own testers. Make sure to offer them the ability to provide feedback by email, via a website, in a message forum, or through another suitable mechanism.
  • Run concurrent tests on the same action. You can run an alpha and beta tests concurrently.
  • Make sure your testers have completed the steps required to test Actions with Dialogflow. See the procedures here.

Known issues

  • The Assistant directory for the web is not supported for opt-in to alpha/beta. Make sure your testers follow the link on their mobile devices (Android or iOS).
  • Your changes may take a few hours to go live. Please hold off for an appropriate period of time before sharing the opt-in link with your users.