Not long ago I did a blog post about “The NDA Curse” in which I lamented how tough it is to blog without talking about MSS 2007 or breaking some NDA (a total of 4) that I’m under. After a series of emails back and forth with the Speech Server group and performing some secret rituals we have managed to exorcise the curse.
So over the next few months I’ll be doing a series of blog entries unraveling the mysteries of Speech Server 2007. I’ll start the series by showing you a few screen shots and then I’ll follow-up with more info on the different tools in MSS 2007. I’ll discuss the different Workflow activities that make up the speech components and show some code that highlights the different features.
Everyone should know by now that Speech Server 2007 is Workflow based and produces managed code. It also can do VXML in addition to SALT and managed code. There is a new way to do grammars using the Conversational Grammar Builder (the old way still works) and there are some new reporting tools that allow you to see how your app is behaving and can even surface OOG conditions.
MSS 2007 is still in private beta and the appearance and features may change slightly before it goes live. With that said let’s take a look at the Visual Studio interface. As usual I’ve linked the images to larger views.
To build a speech application you need to create a new project and select Speech Workflow Application.
After filling out the fields in the wizard you will end up with a new project that looks something like this:
It looks pretty cool doesn’t it? As you can see the wizard creates a project that has a striking resemblance to the MSS 2004 projects that we have all become used to. The project directories are laid out for you and the prompt database and grammar are created (if you selected that). Note though the two big changes, one on each side of the screen.
On the right hand side in the Solution Explorer you will see some new files that may be confusing to you. For example you may be wondering why there is an answerCall activity in the workflow but a file called Outbound.aspx in the solution. Every speech application will have this web page and it is used to kick off the speech app for debugging. I’ll discuss that some more later. If you look closely you will notice a file with the same name as the solution but with a .speax extension. Basically this is a new file type used by Speech Server at runtime to activate your application (simply put it points to your managed code). I’ll go into more details later when I walk you through coding, debugging and deploying the application.
On the left you see the new Speech Dialog Components. These are Windows Workflow Activities that you can use to build your speech app. Some of them should be obvious to you such as the two that were added to your workflow (in the center of the IDE) automatically. I’ll be covering the rest of the activities at a later date. You probably noticed that some of the activities have little red icons next to them. Well don’t worry, the red circles will be gone and the activities will have new icons by RTM. Below you can see a larger version of the toolbar.
Just for grins I thought I would also give you a look at the Administrative Console for Speech Server 2007. This is just to get you drooling and I’ll explain the interface when the time comes to deploy our application.
Well, I hope I have gotten you interested in Speech Server 2007 and crying out for more. I also hope that I haven’t misstated anything but be advised that some things may change slightly.
It really feels good to start blogging about this. As I told Stephen Potter this afternoon –
“The cat is out of the bag….Long live the cat“