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Weblog Support for Avantgo and VoiceXML

  • By Jonathan Eisenzopf
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With the addition of Avantgo and VoiceXML, I've finally completed what I believe to be a strong baseline of output formats for Weblog. With version 1.72, Weblog is now capable of outputting RSS 0.9, RSS 0.91, RSS 1.0, VoiceXML, Avantgo HTML, Palm Clipping HTML, WML for WAP phones, and HTML. Other formats that are still in the works are OCS, CDF, and XUL. Read below for more info on the new formats.

Also, keep your eye on Mother of Perl, because next week, I will begin a series of articles that discusses each of the non-HTML output formats in detail, which will enable you to tweak the output templates to meet your needs.

For instructions on installing Weblog and for a general background on what a Weblog is, see my last tutorial at http://www.webreference.com/perl/tutorial/18/.


VoiceXML is an XML format used for developing interactive voice response systems (IVR). You're probably used to using these applications on the phone with your bank and credit card companies. A consortium of technology companies developed an XML grammar for this type of application. There are several vendors that support VoiceXML including Nuance, SpeechWorks, IBM, and Tellme.com.

What you do with the VoiceXML file is up to you. A basic template is included that was tested with the Tellme.com service. Tellme.com is a free service that gives your users toll-free access to your voice application. They also include a great set of online testing tools that let you test your VoiceXML file online and over the phone. Best of all, it's free! If you're interested in exploring a voice-enabled version of your Weblog, I'd recommend signing up with them. Alternatively, there's a decent list of vendors in the VoiceXML spec itself located @ http://www.w3.org/TR/voicexml/. I have several Weblogs that will be using the Tellme.com service, including Mother of Perl, and am experimenting with Open Source alternatives as well. If you're interested in the commercial application of voice technology, contact me @ eisen@xif.com.


The Perl Weblog also builds a simple HTML version of the RSS file for Avantgo users. Avantgo is a free service that allows PDA users to download Web pages to their local device to be viewed offline. The nice thing about Avantgo is that it allows you to support a wider range of PDA devices including Windows CE for example. Plus, users do not have to be on-line to view their content. This is another option in addition to the Palm Clipping output format, which allows Palm users to view dynamic pages from your Weblog.

Typically, you will want to add an Avantgo button to your homepage that alerts users to the fact that they can add a channel for your Web site to their PDA account. Directions are included on the Avantgo developer site on how to register your channel and include a link or graphic to your Web site that automatically adds the channel to a users Avantgo account when they click on it.

The Avantgo output format is in fact almost identical to the Palm output format. One reason why I created a separate output for it is because you will probably want to have different information for avantgo users than Palm users. With Avantgo, you can typically include large sections of Avantgo-friendly HTML in the avantgo/ subdirectory for users to download whereas the Palm wireless users will be expecting smaller pages because of the slow download speed of the wireless modems.


I would like to solicit feedback from those of you who are using Weblog successfully. What features would you like to see in future versions? I'd also like to hear if you have problems installing the software. Send feedback to eisen@internet.com

This article was originally published on November 30, 2002

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