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Review: BeVocal Cafe

  • November 4, 2002
  • By Hitesh Seth
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If you are interested in the more detailed multi-level textual logging, there is a companion tool called the "Log Browser." It allows the user to view the multiple levels of textual debugging information that is stored for each invocation of the VoiceXML application.

Vocal Scripter

As mentioned at the beginning of this review, the main function of the Vocal Scripter tool is to provide a simple textual-based simulation of the VoiceXML application. As is evident from the screenshot shown on the previous page, the Scripter can take both interactive inputs entered by the user or use a batch mode for input with the input coming from a text file. The text file can also be created by recording the user input while in a scripter session as well. One of the issues with Scripter is that when you are entering numbers you need to either spell them out or enter them with spaces. For the Vocal Scripter to recognize a phone number, an input such as (7 3 2 5 8 4 5 9 4 0) is required, instead of (7325845940). The Vocal Scripter is implemented as a Java Applet.

Click to see a larger version of this image

Vocal Debugger

A runtime tool, as the name "debugger" indicates, Vocal Debugger has functionality that is similar to a "Debugging Application" in a traditional IDE (Integrated Development Environment). For instance, similar to the watch variable list, the debugger shows the various field values and the flow control of a running VoiceXML application. The figure below shows the Vocal Debugger in action with a simple application which identifies a user's city and state based on a recognized phone number. Due to the nature of the speech application, however, the variables are only shown for a fraction of a second as the call control passes from one tag to another. It would be really helpful from a debugging perspective if the tool could add in the missing break-point functionality, pointing to a line number in the VoiceXML source, that exists in a typical debugging environment so that the many variable values can be analyzed.

Click to see a larger version of this image

To be Continued

Apart from some of the tools that make up the Cafe, it contains a comprehensive set of developer resources. These resources include a large collection of pre-recorded audio prompts, a good selection of VoiceXML samples (including dynamic scripting- (JSP/Perl) based examples) and developer documentation that includes a VoiceXML "getting started" guide, a programmer's guide and a VoiceXML tutorial & reference.

In the Vocal Scripter section we saw a simple VoiceXML application that could recognize any company/index which can be used to get stock quotes and other trading-related information. The VoiceXML application was built using a Speech Object that is provided by BeVocal Cafe. Nuance SpeechObjects is a component model for reusing and creating building blocks for speech applications.

In the next issue of our continuation of this review of BeVocal Cafe, we'll look at SpeechObjects, a technology that is supported by BeVocal Cafe. We will also review some of the extensions to VoiceXML that BeVocal has developed specifically around the topic of voice enrollment and speaker verification.


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 hitesh.seth@silverline.com.

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