We’re into the holiday season, and to spread the joy we are releasing an Early Access (EA) version of VoiceObjects 9.1 – a preview of the next version of the Voxeo VoiceObjects platform, which is currently scheduled to reach GA in Q1/2010. In this post we’ll give you an overview of some of the major new functionalities that will be available, and that you can start working with today. Simply download the Early Access install from the VoiceObjects Developer Portal.
For those of you currently using VoiceObjects 9.0, note that we also released Revision 3, which you can download from the same place.
Experience in lots of customer projects has shown us that an overwhelming percentage of Connector object implementations end up connecting to a database. So we decided to go ahead and create a dedicated object for this task – the Database object. It transparently manages the connection infrastructure, including pooling, and allows you to focus on the SQL statements to extract, insert, or manipulate data.
The Database object supports all standard databases (such as e.g. Oracle or SQL Server) as well as any custom database you may want to use so long as it offers a JDBC driver.
Simple Connector Mode
A different requirement for the Connector object came from developers and new users who quickly want to build their first VoiceObjects applications. They often have existing scripts (JSP, PHP, Ruby, etc.) that they would like to re-use without the need to convert it to the XML data exchange format utilized by the Connector object. The focus here is on simplicity, ease of use, and quick results.
So we added a “simple mode” to the HTTP Connector that performs a straight POST of the parameters defined for it and expects a single return value. This value can still be an XML structure, from which individual items may be extracted using the XPATH-based result mapping.
Menu Object Enhancements
Dynamic personalization is one of the particular strengths of the Voxeo VoiceObjects platform: Adjusting each call to the preferences, usage patterns, and needs of the individual caller.
One aspect of this can be the dynamic re-ordering of items within a menu, so that e.g. the most frequently used entry (such as “Account balance” in a banking application) is at the top. VoiceObjects 9.1 provides a new option on the Menu object to easily change the ordering of Menu items using a comma-separated list of entries.
When utilizing such dynamic re-ordering, specifically in DTMF-based applications, it is often desirable to also employ auto-numbering, i.e. to automatically assign DTMF keys to menu entries. With VoiceObjects 9.1 we have provided easier access to these assigned digits for instance to read them out within the respective menu item prompts.
Finally, each menu item can now also fill a variable with a result value that indicates which item has been selected by the caller.
In deployments with a large number of services, there is often the situation that a small number of these services receive the vast majority of call traffic, while many of the other services are merely using up memory most of the time. VoiceObjects 9.1 therefore now intelligently puts such services into a standby mode in which they do not consume any resources, but still remain available for calls.
Control Center Reports
The Infostore repository gives a lot of insight into the status of a deployed system, such as call traffic over time, traffic distribution within a cluster, or caller success rates (as measured by Business Tasks). With VoiceObjects 9.1 graphical reports for key metrics are available right from within the Desktop for Eclipse Control Center. There is also a fully embedded Infostore now in Desktop for Eclipse, so you can start using these reports without the need to set up a separate database.
In addition to the new features described above, VoiceObjects 9.1 will also offer a number of other capabilities that are not yet included within the Early Access package:
The Infostore repository provides a wealth of information on application performance and caller experience. And with each release we add more data to it to enable even more detailed reports. VoiceObjects 9.1 is no exception, and with it we provide among others
- Aggregated Business Task information within the Call Data Record
- Performance data on the new Database object
- Detailed barge-in information for input states
Utterance Validation in Textual Channels
In voice or DTMF applications, grammars define what callers are allowed to say within a given input state. In text and web applications, there often is free-form text input which the application then needs to validate explicitly. With VoiceObjects 9.1 we make this easier by allowing developers to define a regular expression pattern that the caller input needs to conform to. VoiceObjects Server automatically checks this and triggers a No Match event when appropriate.
To learn more about VoiceObjects 9.1, please join us for our upcoming Developer Jam Session on December 9, 2009 at 8am Pacific / 11am Eastern / 5pm European.