March 5, 2021
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Review: IBM WebSphere Voice Toolkit

  • By Hitesh Seth
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Audio Recorder

One of the best practices in early VoiceXML application development is to keep synthesized Text-to-Speech minimum. Instead pre-recorded prompts for dialog introductions provide personality to the application. For integrated development of audio prompts, Voice Toolkit, includes a pretty basic audio recorder (shown below) which allows a developer to record/edit .au/.wav based audio prompts which can be used for development and later for deployment.

Voice Application Debugger

As developers of Java/C++/Visual Basic/Web applications we all are used to debugging applications - the traditional breakpoints, step by step walkthrough, variable watches, interactions etc. VoiceXML being dialog based system, leans itself into the traditional programming paradigm, the major difference being that inputs and outputs can be voice (pre-recorded/generated), and subroutines are sub-dialogs. Voice Application Debugger a utility released out of IBM's alphaWorks division, integrates this step-by-step debugging methodology into the Voice Toolkit. The debugger adds a menu item item called "Debug VoiceXML" which starts the debugger with the VoiceXML document currently edited. The debugger (shown below) also supports debugging of remote (URL based) VoiceXML applications.

Grammar Development

Your VoiceXML application is as rich/good as the grammar it supports. Grammar development and testing is also perhaps the most difficult and also most important part in the development of VoiceXML applications. A number of grammar formats are being used by VoiceXML gateways and hosted voice portals including JSGF (Java Speech Grammar Format), BNF (Backus-Naur Form),  XML based  grammar formats etc. IBM WebSphere Voice Toolkit supports development, testing and inter-conversion of JSGF and BNF based grammars. Two important functions included in the toolkit around grammar development include a wizard for generation of possible utterances (screenshot) and another for testing a grammar (shown below) with any text/speech based utterances. Some features that I would like to see in the next version around this functionality would be a visual (graph-like) representation of the grammar and support for the upcoming XML based grammar specification.

View Grammar Test Tool Screen Shot

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This article was originally published on October 20, 2002

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