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Voice Enabling Web Applications: VoiceXML and Beyond (With CD-ROM) Paperback – November 16, 2001

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Editorial Reviews Review

For anyone planning to build voice-based user interfaces (VUIs) for the next generation of Internet and mobile Web applications, Voice Enabling Web Applications provides a glimpse into the future with a fast-moving and capable guide centered on VoiceXML, the standard that powers voice-based computing. Suitable for both programmers and IT managers alike, this concise book gives you the big picture as well as the technical detail you'll need to get started with the voice-based Web.

This short title starts out by explaining the evolution of user interfaces, from text and pictures on desktop browsers to new VUI standards, including VoiceXML 1.0, which is used here to build voice-based apps. (The book begins with an explanation that VoiceXML 2.0 was still being standardized as the title went to press. A later section details some of the changes you can expect when 2.0 does arrive.)

After explaining the unique challenges of creating voice-based interactions with users, much of the book relies on a sample case study for a simple Personal Information Manager (PIM), including some design documents (like use cases) presented in the Unified Modeling Language (UML). This application gets enhanced in steps and allows the author to tour the basic tags and programming strategies for voice-based dialogs with users. Throughout this title, the author considers "best practices" and programming hints for creating effective VUIs, which will require new ways of thinking from developers. Later chapters look at how to create an application that can be used with both traditional browsers and voice using XML presented using XSL style sheets. (This example makes use of both the Cocoon servlet framework and the IBM WebSphere Voice SDK, with screenshots showing these tools in action.)

The book concludes with some predictions about what to expect for the future of VoiceXML and voice-based computing as well as a handy reference to VoiceXML tags. Though it's likely to be superseded by more comprehensive titles as voice computing matures, this concise guide will provide an excellent resource for any early adopter of voice-based computing. --Richard Dragan

Topics covered: Introduction to VoiceXML and voice user interfaces (VUIs), brief history of the Internet, case study for a simple voice-based Personal Information Manager (PIM), user-case analysis of a VUI, VoiceXML 1.01 vs. 2.0, survey of toolkits and developer accessories, VoiceXML language tutorial (menus, dialogs, event handling, and telephony support), VUI design principles, techniques and programming guide; advanced VoiceXML topics (including resource fetching, voice gateways, and advanced event handling), quick overview of Web technologies (including XML, servlets, and JavaServer Pages), adding VoiceXML to traditional Web applications, grammar and speech synthesis specifications, reusable dialog components, and a reference to VoiceXML tags and syntax.

About the Author

Ken Abbott is an independent software architect and consultant in the Boston area. His clientele spans the range from Fortune 500 companies to dot-com startups. Recently, his practice has focused on application of Java 2 Enterprise technologies to business applications. Before entering private practice, Abbott was technical director at XSoft, a division of Xerox, where he led the development of the InConcert workflow software product. He is a Sun Certified Enterprise Architect, an IBM Certified Solutions Expert, and a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Apress (November 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893115739
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893115736
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,387,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent overview of VoiceXML. In addition to a thorough discussion of the VXML language and technologies, the author had the great idea of illustrating the material via a Personal Information Manager project (address book, calendar, and to-do list), which the reader creates while reading along. IMHO, this is by far the most practical of the VoiceXML books that I own. I learned quite a bit, and have even been able to create a number of useful VXML apps on my own since reading it.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rich Levinson on May 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. It is an example of how a modern
technical book should be written to really teach the
reader both the substance of the subject and the context
in which that subject is meaningful. There is high level
motivation throughout the book which enables the reader
looking for an overview of Voice XML and how it relates
to technologies used with it. There is technical detail
that will enable the software engineer to understand
the technical foundations and how they relate to technologies
used with Voice XML such as XSLT, JSP, HTML, JavaScript, etc.
In addition, there is an architectural framework of browsers,
gateways, web servers, servlets, grammars, telephony, and
the transformational processing model, which is concisely
presented with the essential concepts needed to understand
how all these technologies are woven into a cohesive
structure to enable the building of Voice XML and multimedia
applications. If that is not enough, there is working example
provided which is explained throughout the book, and it is
even presented in a UML framework which will be useful to
engineers who want a good example of effective use of UML.
And there is a CD, and associated web site, with both the
application and all the tools you need to build and test
the example - note: some of the tools like XML Spy, IBM
WebSphere, Allaire JRun, and Apache Cocoon may have time
limits, so don't install the software until you are ready
to spend the time necessary to set up and test the
application. Finally, the book is written at an extremely
intelligent level and the reader may find some of the
philosophies like cognition and artificial intelligence
stimulating. Sounds like a lot for a 200 page book, but
the author has succeeded in delivering all the above and
more in a manner that should serve as a model for
presenting new technologies.
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