VoiceXML is the established W3C standard for voice dialog languages. VoiceXML is bringing much more value to telecom than its original developers imagined. Actually, their target was the enterprise. But now the advantages of separating the application from the network equipment and placing it on a Web server where it can be fetched on a per-call basis are so pronounced, the technology is being widely adopted by telecom service providers.
The VoiceXML browser is analogous to a graphical Web browser, such as Netscape®
with a Web server using voice or DTMF inputs. Instead of rendering and interpreting HTML (like a graphical browser), the VoiceXML browser renders and interprets the VoiceXML script, which determines how the service application interacts with the caller/subscriber. Rather than clicking a mouse and using a keyboard, the caller uses her voice and a telephone (and even the phone keypad) to access Web information and services via the MRF.
One of the primary functions of the VoiceXML Browser is to fetch VoiceXML documents from the Web server, just as a graphical Web browser fetches HTML documents. The request to fetch a document can be generated either by the interpretation of a VoiceXML document, or in response to an external event, such as a SIP-based command from an application server in an IMS network. The VoiceXML browser uses HTTP over a LAN or the Internet to fetch the documents (the very same HTTP requests that are used by the graphical Web browser).
The VoiceXML browser interprets and renders the VoiceXML document. It manages the dialog between the application and the user by playing audio prompts, accepting user input, and acting on that input. The action might involve jumping to a new dialog, fetching a new document, or submitting user input to the Web server for processing.
Since the user’s interaction is with a Web server, the server can be connected to enterprise or carrier databases without requiring that the database interaction be any different that with non-telecom applications. To push the example even further, the information supplied to the caller can be from a social-networking site via a mashup-oriented API supplied by the social-network operator.
The VoiceXML Forum (now 376 companies strong) published VoiceXML 1.0 in 2000 and then transitioned control of the specification to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Since then, the W3C has published VoiceXML 2.1, and is currently working on VoiceXML 3.0 (“V3”).
Despite the substantial opportunity that exists in this marketplace, there are only a few significant VoiceXML platform vendors. A number of industry moves have affected that. The number-one player, GenesysLabs, acquired VoiceGenie Technologies, the number-two player. Vocalocity, the leader in VoiceXML OEM solutions, was sold to Zivva, which was re-named Vocalocity, and no longer focuses on that marketplace. Voxeo has recently strengthened its position with an aggressive marketing push. Envox, VoxPilot, and Holly are also in the mix. The leading VoiceXML open-source offering, OpenVXI, the most widely-used VoiceXML interpreter, has become dormant following an ownership change. These market dynamics have created the opening for a new player to emerge. Commetrex is that player and BladeWareVXML is the product!
With these industry moves in mind, Commetrex developed and recently announced the availability on sourceforge.net of BladeWareVXMLInterpreter, an open-source portable VXML interpreter. BladeWareVXMLInterpreter is designed specifically to integrate into an existing telephony platform. It is an enhanced version of OpenVXi, which has been adopted by more telephony platforms than any other VoiceXML interpreter. Major improvements are included in the areas of performance and VoiceXML 2.1 conformance. BladeWareVXMLInterpreterBladeWareVXML Interpreter consists of a collection of replaceable components to provide maximum flexibility to developers. Users can keep the components they need and substitute their own where appropriate. BladeWareVXMLInterpreter is also easily enhanced to support proprietary grammar formats, URI types, and VoiceXML objects.
BladeWareVXMLInterpreter is fully internationalized and language agnostic. It has been used in dozens of languages including US English, Mexican Spanish, Japanese, French, German, and Korean.
BladeWareVXMLBrowser, which includes BladeWareVXMLInterpreter MRCP, HTTP and Web-services support, will be available in early 2008.