I had the opportunity of opening the pre-conference with two workshop sessions on "VoiceXML Core Concepts" and "VoiceXML Fundamentals and Syntax Overview." As a precursor to the workshop session, I conducted a couple of polls to gauge the audience's expertise and experience and was pleased with my results. I would like to share my findings, which I think illustrate the kind of attention that speech applications and VoiceXML has been gaining.
- About 68% were advanced developers of web applications and another 26% were experts in developing web applications. (Graph)
- About 24% were beginning to be involved with Speech Application development; another 60% were advanced users of speech applications and about 16% were speech application experts. (Graph)
- More than 80% had beginners knowledge about VoiceXML development.
- About 10% were in conceptual stages of using VoiceXML; 32% had planned VoiceXML applications and another 32% were already in development. What was particularly interesting was that about 26% had VoiceXML applications in production. (Graph)
- More than 80% felt that VoiceXML has high potential. (Graph)
I showed a couple of demonstrations to highlight the ease of use and benefits obtained by using a open standard technology such as VoiceXML. One of the demonstrations, "VoiceXML Outbound demonstration," showed a VoiceXML call being made when a major event occurs (in this case inventory below a certain level for a major raw material). The approach of event-based speech application development was particularly seen as promising by a number of application developers who could relate to its potential in a number of event-based mission-critical applications.
Following introductory sessions, in the second part of the workshop, our own Jonathan Eisenzopf adopted a hands-on approach for developing and testing VoiceXML dynamic applications using the Nuance V-Builder/Vocalizer products and Microsoft Active Server Pages-based dynamic server-side scripting technology. In his presentation, he also pointed out a couple of VUI Best Practices including "Do not use open ended prompts," "focus on grammar accuracy," "falling back to menus if natural dialogs fail," "confirm recognize information," "generating prompts based on confidence scores" and "keep TTS output to a minimum."
About Hitesh Seth
Hitesh Seth is Chief Technology Evangelist for Silverline Technologies, a global eBusiness and mobile solutions consulting and integration services firm. He is a columnist on VoiceXML technology in XML Journal and regularly writes for other technology publications including Java Developers Journal and Web Services Journal on technology topics such as J2EE, Microsoft .NET, XML, Wireless Computing, Speech Applications, Web Services & Integration. Hitesh received his Bachelors Degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK), India. Feel free to email any comments or suggestions about the articles featured in this column at firstname.lastname@example.org.