Voice VoiceXML Developer Tools Roundup

VoiceXML Developer Tools Roundup

Introduction

I had the opportunity of reviewing a number of different tools
for developing and testing VoiceXML applications. In this article, I would like to focus on the salient features of some of the tools and provide some recommendations which should assist you in the selection of your next VoiceXML development
tool.

A Brief Glimpse of Various Tools

Tool Category Key Highlights Screenshot
Audium 3 VoiceXML Application Server Platform
  • Based on J2EE Application Servers
  • Visual Call Flow Modeling
  • Components – Audium Builder & Server
  • Integration with custom applications using Java APIs and XML.
  • Large library of pre-built components and modules
  • Ability to create custom modules and rules

BeVocal Cafe Hosted VoiceXML Application Development Platform
  • File Management
  • Vocal Player (plays previous sessions)
  • Vocal Scripter (VoiceXML testing terminal using keyboard data entry)
  • Vocal Debugger
  • Support for pre-built SpeechObjects
  • Extensions: Speaker Verification, Voice Enrollment, Voice "Alerts"

GetVocal SDK Desktop Development Tool
  • Visual VoiceXML Editor
  • Can function as a Single Port gateway (when connected with a modem)
  • Support for ActiveX/Java components within JavaScript in VoiceXML
    documents
  • Scripts based Automated testing
  • Local/Remote VoiceXML Testing

HeyAnita
FreeSpeech Developer Network
Hosted VoiceXML Development Platform
  • File Management
  • Grammar (XML) IDE – Grammar Generation Wizard, Grammar Parser


IBM WebSphere Voice Toolkit
Desktop VoiceXML Application Development Tool
  • Based on Eclipse, a popular Open Source IDE
  • VoiceXML Editor
  • Audio Recorder
  • Voice Application Debugger
  • Grammar Development Tools
  • Extensive library of Reusable Dialog Components
  • Dynamic Voice Application Development using J2EE technologies (JSP/Servlets)
  • Pronunciation Builder for IBM WebSphere Voice Server

Nuance
V-Builder
Desktop VoiceXML Application Development Tool
  • Visual Palette based VoiceXML Editor
  • Grammar Builder
  • Dialog Tester
  • Prompt Editor
  • Extensive library of pre-built SpeechObjects
  • Tight integration with Nuance Speech Tools

Oracle 9iAS
Mobile Studio
Hosted Multi-Channel Development Platform
  • Multi-channel platform. Supports Web (HTML), VoiceXML and WAP delivery
    simultaneously
  • Defines a set of multi-channel XML tags

Telera DeVXchange Hosted VoiceXML Development Environment +
Desktop Development Tool
  • Hosted Development Tool – CodeCenter
  • Call Tracer
  • Debug Logs
  • Voice Recorder/Audio Converter
  • Grammar Verifier
  • Outbound Notification
  • AppBuilder – graphical VoiceXML application generation environment –
    generates asp/jsp code
  • Call Control Extensions to VoiceXML

Tellme Studio Hosted VoiceXML Application Development Platform
  • Scratchpad for creating instant demo applications
  • Grammar Tools – Phrase Checker, Phrase Generator
  • Record By Phone
  • VoiceXML Terminal (test VoiceXML applications in a text based
    simulated environment)
  • Support for VoIP

VoiceGenie Developer Workshop and
GenieIDE
Hosted VoiceXML Application Development and
Desktop VoiceXML IDE
  • VoiceXML Editor
  • Dialog/Grammar Wizards
  • Dialog Flow
  • Pre-built library of SpeechWorks OpenSpeech DialogModules
  • VoiceXML Validator
  • Grammar Wizard
  • Audio Converter & Record By Phone
  • Call Log Explorer

Voxeo Community Hosted VoiceXML Application Development Platform
  • Support for VoiceXML, CallXML and CCXML Applications
  • Outbound Calling
  • Reporting
  • Web Services based Application Insight Tool – Management & Monitoring
    of remote VoiceXML/CCXML Applications
  • Visual Voxeo Designer
  • CCXML Support

voxPilot ODE Hosted VoiceXML Application Development Platform
Key Highlights
  • Local Numbers for European Developers
  • Support for Multiple Languages
  • File/Project manager
  • Reusable Subdialog based Components
  • Realtime Log Viewer

Key Selection Criteria

If you are selecting a VoiceXML Application development/testing tool for
your next VoiceXML project there are a couple of selection criteria that you
should focus on: (note: depending on which category of tool that you are
evaluating, not all of them may be applicable, for instance if you are only
evaluating hosted development environments, typical IDE features are
not available)

  1. Standards Support: Look for latest support of standards, particularly
    VoiceXML (1.0/2.0)
  2. Support for grammar formats: I would recommend looking for support for W3C
    XML grammar format and/or Nuance GSL.
  3. Access Mechanism: Real phone-based access (800/International numbers),
    text based simulator, Voice Over IP
  4. IDE Features: Source Code Control, Project Management etc.
  5. Visual Call Flow Modeling
  6. Reusable Components
  7. Grammar Development Tools – formats supported, generation wizards, phrase
    testing tools
  8. Call Debugging/Replay
  9. Call Log/Tracing
  10. Support for Deployment
  11. Pre-built Application Templates

Conclusion

The VoiceXML-based speech application development/deployment
landscape is still maturing and I believe complete end-to-end tools are yet
to emerge. However, it is pretty clear that a significant number of tools have
emerged to accelerate the development of VoiceXML Applications. Even though these
tools are probably not as mature as the web application development tools,
a number of desktop-based tools have leveraged the advances and
features of web tools. An excellent example is IBM’s WebSphere Voice Toolkit,
which is really a plug-in to the popular Eclipse application development
platform. As far as hosted VoiceXML application tools, I particularly like BeVocal,
Tellme, VoiceGenie and Voxeo environments. From a recommendation perspective, I
don’t think one size fits all applies here. Typically, I would recommend to choose
a combination of a hosted VoiceXML Platform and a desktop development tool which are compatible with each other.

About Hitesh Seth

A freelance author and known speaker, Hitesh is a columnist on VoiceXML
technology in XML Journal and regularly writes for other technology publications
including Java Developer’s Journal, Web Services Journal and The Computer
Bulletin on emerging technology topics such as J2EE, Microsoft .NET, XML,
Wireless Computing, Speech Applications, Web Services & Enterprise/B2B
Integration. He is the conference chair for VoiceXML Planet Conference & Expo.
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
[email protected]

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