Tick Event Handlers

Tick events occur as time passes. You can use a handleTick event handler to capture tick events and run commands periodically based on time.

Document and component tick event handlers

You can define tick handlers at the component level or at the document level. All components have the handleTick property. The Alexa Presentation Language (APL) document also has a top-level handleTick property.

Property Type Default Styled Dynamic Description
handleTick Array of tick handlers [] No No Handlers to run when tick events occur.

For example, the following example shows a TouchWrapper that uses the component-level handleTick property. The tick handler increments a RepeatCounter variable about every 100 milliseconds as long as the TouchWrapper has the pressed state. When the user releases the component and the pressed state ends, the onPress handler resets the counter to zero.

Tick handler properties

A single tick handler is an object with the properties shown in the following table.

Property Type Default Description
commands Array of commands REQUIRED Commands to run when this handler invokes.
description String "" Optional description of this tick handler.
minimumDelay Number 1000 Minimum duration in milliseconds that must pass before this handler is invoked again.
when Boolean true When true, invoke this handler.

The array of tick handlers runs in parallel. Each tick handler has a when clause. A tick handler runs when both of the following conditions are met:

  • The when clause for the handler evaluates to true.
  • At least minimumDelay milliseconds have passed after the last time this tick handler ran.

Individual APL running environments might check and run tick handlers at indeterminate intervals. An APL running environment should check tick handlers at least 60 times per second, but a resource-constrained environment might check less frequently.

For example, if you set a tick handler with a minimumDelay of 30, APL invokes it at best every 30 milliseconds. It might be invoked at less frequent intervals. Don't use a tick counter to measure the passage of time. instead use the elapsedTime or utcTime properties.


An array of commands to run when this tick handler is invoked.

The event generated has the following form:

"event": {
  "source": {
    "type": "COMPONENT_TYPE",   // The component type or "Document"
    "handler": "Tick",
    "id": ID,          // ID of the component or null for the Document
    "uid": UID,        // Runtime-generated unique ID of the component or null for the Document
    "value": NUMBER    // Value for the component or null for the document

Tick commands always run in fast mode.


The minimum amount of time in milliseconds that must pass between invocations of this tick handler.


When true, this handler runs when the system detects a tick event.

Tick handler examples

Animation example

You can use tick handlers to create state machines that fire commands periodically. The following toggles the lights in a traffic light at random intervals, approximately one time per four seconds.

Rate limiters

You can use tick handlers to create rate limiters. For example, assume you needed to periodically pass information the user scrolling the screen to your skill.

Without tick handlers, you could assign a SendEvent command to the onScroll handler of the ScrollView. This approach causes problems, as the command floods the system with SendEvent messages each time the scroll view moves.

  "type": "ScrollView",
  "onScroll": {
    "type": "SendEvent",
    "sequencer": "SendEventSequencer",
    "arguments": [
      "now at position ${event.source.position}"

To improve this solution, throttle the messages with a handleTick handler. The following example shows a tick handler that limits the rate of sending updates to one time every two seconds and sends the updated scroll position if the last reported position has changed.

To illustrate how the rate limiter works, the Text components at the top show the values of the ScrollPosition and LastScrollPosition variables. As you scroll the content, the ScrollPosition value updates in real time. The LastScrollPosition updates at every two seconds if you have scrolled the content. Change the minimumDelay property in the tick handler to experiment with a different rate of updates.

To test the SendEvent command in this example, copy the example to a skill.

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Last updated: Nov 28, 2023