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VoiceXML Developer Tools

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This sample chapter describes how to select and assemble VoiceXML development tools into an efficient environment that serves your individual needs. We will look at tools for coding and debugging as well as commercial toolkits and Web-based development environments that package many of the necessary tools.
This chapter is from the book

In This Chapter

  • Types of Environments
  • Environment Options and Trade-offs
  • Web-Based Environment
  • Other Useful Tools
  • Summary

Developing in VoiceXML will feel familiar to most Web developers. Possibly the most alien part of the experience comes just when you are starting out—setting up a development environment. The good news is many helpful tools are becoming available.

This chapter describes how to select and assemble those tools into an efficient environment that serves your individual needs. We will look at tools for coding and debugging as well as commercial toolkits and Web-based development environments that package many of the necessary tools.

This chapter assumes that most developers will be interested in starting their development inexpensively while evaluating VoiceXML technology.

Nothing is more discouraging than having tool problems while you're learning a new technology. So, another goal is that the environment you select be as easy to install, configure, and use as possible. To accomplish this, we will recommend tools for general situations and explain how to acquire, install, and configure them. We will attempt to keep setup as straightforward as possible and suggest a couple of alternatives if you run into problems.

As you gain experience, you may select different tools to meet new requirements or personal tastes. That brings us to the final goal of this chapter, to provide a survey of some of the tools available. VoiceXML is relatively new, and as with other new technologies, the landscape is constantly changing. However, learning some of the tools and vendors should allow you to stay on top of new developments in this area.

Types of Environments

Your environment can range from a standalone, simulated VoiceXML network that you've built yourself, all the way to Web-based tools that you often can access free to do your development and testing. These Web-based tools are powerful, relatively easy to use, and comprehensive. This is probably the best route for most programmers.

The following sections describe a development environment that allows you to continue using tools you have probably grown accustomed to, such as your text editor and Web server. By understanding how this environment is put together, you will also gain a better understanding of how the VoiceXML network works.

As mentioned earlier, many developers may prefer Web-based tools, and we will discuss them shortly. But we will begin with an environment that leverages your existing programming tools and makes the voice Web more understandable. Why? Because some of the Web-based tools have become so comprehensive they conceal important elements of VoiceXML that a programmer should understand.

We will begin by discussing trade-offs among the different tool approaches.

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