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January 7, 2003—In this issue:
1. DEVELOPER .NET PERSPECTIVES
- Now We're Talking!
- Give Us Your Feedback and You Could Win a Digital Camera
- The Microsoft Mobility Tour Is Coming Soon to a City Near You!
- Featured Thread: Logon Problem When Using ASP.NET
4. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Run Scripts in All .NET Framework Languages
5. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
1. DEVELOPER .NET PERSPECTIVES
(contributed by Marquis Howard, [email protected])
Did you know that your Web page can now speak to you and you to it? With the Microsoft .NET Speech Software Development Kit (SDK) 1.0 Beta 2, you can speech-enable Web applications based on ASP.NET technologies. My friends, this is some of the coolest technology I've seen in a long time. True cyber dialog occurs between you and a Web page. You can use your voice to navigate, process data, and retrieve information. Next year, I foresee the user's experience reaching a whole new level: a .NET version of Star Trek's Holodeck (just joking).
Before I delve into the .NET Speech SDK's particulars, I want to give a brief overview of speech technology. Two key concepts are speech-to-text synthesis, which is better known as speech recognition (SR), and Text-to-Speech (TTS) synthesis. SR involves converting sound waves to text. Conversely, TTS involves converting text to sound waves.
Here's the basic SR process: The user speaks into a microphone, which captures the sound waves and turns them into electrical impulses. The computer's sound card converts the electrical impulses into digital signals. Next, the SR engine converts the digital signals into basic language units called phonemes, then into words. The SR engine analyzes the words in context to ensure the correct spelling of words that sound alike (e.g., write and right). Finally, an application displays the words as text input.
The basic TTS synthesis process starts when the TTS engine converts the words in an application's text into phonetic sounds and specifies the length of time for each phonetic sound. The combinations of tone and timing are strung together in a digital audio stream. Finally, the sound card converts the digital audio stream into acoustical signals that play through speakers or earphones.
You can download or order the free .NET Speech platform from the Microsoft .NET Speech Web site(http://microsoft.com/speech). Currently, .NET Speech SDK 1.0 Beta 2 doesn't support the .NET Framework 1.1. To use the .NET Speech platform, you need to install Windows XP or Windows 2000, .NET Framework Service Pack 2 (SP2), Microsoft IIS, Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 6.0 or later, and Visual Studio .NET. If you didn't get Visual Studio .NET for Christmas and you really want to try the .NET Speech platform, Microsoft lets you download a 60-day trial version of Visual Studio .NET Professional at the following URL:
After you install Visual Studio .NET, you can install the .NET Speech platform. The platform has a developer section and a deployment section. The developer section consists of the SDK and the tools you need to set up the Web server. The deployment section contains the files necessary to develop applications that utilize the speech technology.
From the developer section, you can install the entire SDK or just the ASP.NET Speech Controls (\downloads\asp.net speech controls) and the Internet Explorer Speech Add-In (\downloads\microsoft internet explorer speech add-in). The ASP.NET Speech Controls enable speech input and output that generate HTML and Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) markup for telephone and multimodal browsers. For information about SALT markup, go to the following URL:
The Internet Explorer Speech Add-In lets IE run SR and TTS applications in your browser. If you're not going to be developing speech applications but you want to take advantage of and use the speech programs, you must at least install the Internet Explorer Speech Add-In.
In the deployment section, you'll find the files you need to develop two types of applications: multimodal applications and voice-only applications. In multimodal applications, users can interact with a Web page by way of speech or a GUI. In voice-only applications, users interact through a speech-only interface, such as a telephone. Although voice-only applications don't have a visible UI, you still use an .aspx Web page to build this type of application.
Before I wrap up this week, let's look at how to build a simple multimodal application that reads back text. To start, create a new ASP.NET project in Visual Studio .NET. In the Toolbox, notice the new option called Speech. Click this option, and add the Question/Answer (QA) control. With the forms designer open, place this control on the Web page—this is all you need to do to test your application and hear your Web page talk to you. Now, simply run your application. Next week, I'll step you through three or four lines of code that demonstrate how to implement the control and make the page speak.
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Forum participant Ralf is using ASP.NET to update and add information to Active Directory (AD). He can write to AD if he's logged on to the server or a computer on which the Web page is running. However, if he accesses the same Web page from another computer, he's asked for a password. If you can help, go to
4. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Sue Cooper, [email protected])
Alintex released Alintex Script Host Beta 1.0, an application that lets you create distributable scripts that take advantage of the Microsoft .NET Framework. Alintex Script Host lets you mix and match Visual Basic .NET, JScript .NET, and Visual C# .NET code on the same command line, yet produce a single XML-based portable script file for ease of distribution. Alintex Script Host is free for your personal and commercial use. Contact Alintex through its Web site at
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