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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 Though it's likely to be superseded by more comprehensive titles as voice computing matures, this concise guide will provide an excellent resource for any early adopter of voice-based computing.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.
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.