Posts Tagged ‘VoiceObjects Developer Edition 9.0’

VoiceObjects 9.1 Early Access

Friday, December 4th, 2009

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.

Database Object
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.

Cache Standby
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:

Infostore Extensions
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.

The future looks colorful

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Now that Revision 1 of VoiceObjects 9.0 is available and Prophecy 10 can be previewed, it is time to look toward the bright future again.

VoiceObjects has always offered the Control Center, which gives you an up-to-the-minute view of what’s going on in your deployment and lets you take action. The information available in the Control Center covers e.g. current call volumes as well as general status information on Infostore etc. You can activate application changes, deploy and undeploy services, take server instances down for maintenance, and more.

Coming up during the remainder of this year, you will also be able to access deployment-related reports directly from within the Desktop for Eclipse Control Center:


If you’re familiar with the VoiceObjects architecture you will know that we use a Server-Instance-Service paradigm: Applications are deployed as services onto logical servers, which in turn can be run on multiple instances in a cluster to facilitate load balancing and failover.
Reports will be available on all three of these levels, covering e.g. the number of sessions over time for various ranges.


Similarly it will be possible to check e.g.  on load distribution within a cluster to make sure that each instance carries its fair share.


Or to dig into call durations for individual services to see how callers fare.


There will even be direct access to Business Task information, so you can see right from the Control Center not just whether an application is up and running, but whether it actually does its job of giving callers what they want.


Sounds good? Then wait until you hear what else is in store :-)

To learn more, contact us, follow us on Twitter – or visit us in New York at SpeechTEK 2009. We’re in booth 800 and look forward to meeting you!

Revisioning VoiceObjects 9.0

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Seems like yesterday that we released VoiceObjects 9. And still here we are with Revision 1  (R1) of VoiceObjects 9.0.

Yes, it fixes a couple of issues that we found or that you reported to us (thanks, and keep the feedback coming!) – but more than that it is chock-full of new features and functionalities to the point that merely calling it a revision is really hiding its light under a bushel. So this blog post gives you a high-level overview of what you can expect to find when you step up to R1.
It’s available immediately over here and on the VoiceObjects Service Portal.

Desktop for Eclipse
One of the new features coming in Desktop for Eclipse (including Developer Edition) you may already have seen in a previous blog post: The ability to switch between standalone and network mode at startup and from the VoiceObjects menu. Very convenient if you frequently change your working environment.


Another convenience function introduced with R1 is the ability to backup all of your projects at once. Simply select the new entry in the VoiceObjects menu and define a location for the backup. You can even choose between separate export files, a single combined ZIP archive, or all of the above.


Finally, the Search view has received a complete makeover. It now presents search results in individual tabs, giving you the ability to keep multiple search results open at the same time. It also shows you a lot more detail on the search conditions, both within the tab header itself and in the corresponding tool tip. Providing these additional capabilities was very high on the list of developer requests, and we’re happy to respond to this feedback.


Do let us know how the newly expanded search works for you!

In the unlikely case that you may have missed it: IMified has joined the Voxeo family, giving you access to all major Instant Messaging networks. Blending neatly with the existing VoiceObjects multi-channel approach, you can now augment your applications to also work as IM “bots” by simply running them with the new IMified driver. Part and parcel of our Unified Self-Service vision:


To be honest, it’s less of a vision by now – it’s reality you can put to use today!

A functionality used by many of our customers is what we call Service Chaining: Shepherding the caller through a number of consecutive applications that give the external appearance of being a single one. Often this is e.g. a shared initial application that accesses the backend for CRM data, followed by the  respective application dialled into by the caller (as identified e.g. by DNIS).
The way this was done so far could produce ugly intermediate pages in the text-based channels that required explicit caller interaction to move to the next page. Therefore R1 now uses standard HTTP redirects to trigger invisible and seamless service chaining in these channels.

For certain types of applications, such as e.g. conferencing, VoiceXML in and of itself is insufficient due to its lack of fine-grained telephony capabilities. In these cases, Call Control XML (CCXML) is the language of choice – usually in combination with VoiceXML since CCXML in its turn is not particularly dialog-oriented. To make this combination as smooth as possible, R1 offers a new transfer type within the Transfer object, fittingly called CCXML. It gives you the ability to easily jump from a VoiceXML dialog into the enveloping CCXML application – and return to the dialog at some later time. For details, refer to June’s Jam Session.

A lot of things have happened in R1 around Infostore, the repository for real-time caller behavior analysis.
First of all, it has completed its architectural transition to using a persistent on-disk message queue based on the popular Apache ActiveMQ. This means that regardless of database or network slowdowns or even outages, no Infostore data will ever be lost. Important peace of mind for customers who rely on the insight that Infostore delivers.

VoiceObjects Server provides sophisticated sampling options to ensure that statistically relevant data on caller behavior is collected while keeping the sheer data volume at a manageable level even for installations with very high call volume. This implies that even though Infostore is enabled, not every single call will actually write data to it.
In some situations it is of interest to know within the application itself whether a call has been selected to be written to Infostore or not – e.g. when your application logs custom data that only makes sense in combination with the corresponding Infostore entries. The new Expression object function ISLOGGINGACTIVE() does just that for all the relevant settings including utterance recording.

There’s also another enhancement for customers handling sensitive caller data such as credit card numbers: In addition to the long-existing masking option of using one-way encryption to obtain a protected yet unique representation for each caller input, it is now also possible to apply a generic, static mask that replaces every sensitive utterance with the same configurable string.

Those of you who participated in July’s Jam Session already know about the new LoadTester tool that allows you to easily stress test your application and deployment infrastructure. Starting with R1 it is bundled with the installer.

Grammar Management
With VoiceObjects 9.0R1 we are also proud to release the integration with Nu Echo’s NuGram IDE. Making full use of the Eclipse workbench approach, you can now develop, maintain, and manage your speech recognition (and DTMF) grammars in what is recognized by many as the market’s best grammar development tool. Bundled right into VoiceObjects Developer Edition,  a single download now gives you more power than ever before.
To learn more about VoiceObjects and NuGram, join us for our next Developer Jam Session on September 16.

And if you want to learn more about the Voxeo VoiceObjects platform in general, why not join one of our free training classes at Voxeo University? Seats are limited, so sign up today for the next courses in September and October by contacting us at!

Finally, if you’re in New York City during this week of August 24, please make sure to visit us at SpeechTEK in the Marriott Marquis!
You can find us in booth 800. We’re looking forward to talking to you.

VoiceObjects Analyzer for MicroStrategy 9 – Free Edition

Monday, July 20th, 2009

A few weeks ago you have learned how to enable Infostore on your Developer Edition. Once the connection to Infostore has been established, detailed information about the calls to your application are beeing logged to the Infostore repository.  By the way if you want to learn how you can fill your new Infostore repository faster than by manually making calls, join us for our next Developer Jam Session taking place on July 29 at 11am Eastern to learn about LoadTester. Registration is open now.

With VoiceObjects Analyzer for MicroStrategy 9 now available for download from the VoiceObjects Developer Portal (for the free Developer Edition) as well as from the VoiceObjects Service Portal (for existing customers), and the parallel offering of the free available MicroStrategy 9 Reporting Suite you can now complete your package of free solutions to get all the possibilities to create and call applications with Voxeo VoiceObjects  Developer Editon, and to analyze the callers’ behavior by running one of the 50 standard reports that are part of VoiceObjects Analyzer for MicroStrategy 9.

A detailed description on how to download, install and configure MicroStrategy 9 and VoiceObjects Analyzer is available here. Follow the descibed steps and come back to this post once MicroStrategy 9 is running properly and VoiceObjects Analyzer for MicroStrategy has been imported successfully.

In the following we will briefly describe how you can run one of the standard reports delivered with VoiceObjects Analyzer in MicroStrategy 9. Keep in mind that running a meaningful report requires to have at least some useful data in your Infostore repository. By the way, we are planning to extend our free offering by adding a package of Infostore demo data. Stay tuned for more details within the next couple of weeks!

  1. Open MicroStrategy Desktop (typically available from the start menu “Start” -> “All programs” -> “MicroStrategy” -> “Desktop”).
  2. Provide the login details as defined in the Intelligence Server configuration (default is Administrator and empty password).
  3. Open the Project Source “VoiceObjects Analyzer” (or any other name you have defined in the Project Source creation process).
  4. Open the project “VoiceObjects Analyzer v9 R1″.MicroDesktop
  5. The standard reports can be found in the folder “Reports” below “Public Objects”. They are distributed in three categories “Administration and Maintenance”, “Application Development and Tuning” and “Business and Caller Analysis”. Refer to the Analyzer Guide for detailed information on the different reports.
  6. As an example open the report “Number of Sessions by Day” from the category “Administration and Maintenance”.
  7. In the upcoming prompts select the service and pick at least the year on which the report should be run. Click  “Finish” to start the report. You should get a report looking similar to the following example:
  8. Now you can enjoy exploring the variety of available reports.

As always, if you have any problems, questions, or suggestions do not hesitate to contact our Extreme Support.

How to Setup MicroStrategy 9 with VoiceObjects Analyzer

Monday, July 20th, 2009

The following text describes how to download, install and configure MicroStrategy and VoiceObjects Analyzer for MicroStrategy to properly work together.
Before we begin with the installation process itself you should take a moment and step through the prerequisites, so that everything needed is available for the setup.

Prerequisites & System Requirements:

  • VoiceObjects Analyzer for MicroStrategy 9 (download from the Developer Portal)
  • MicroStrategy 9 free reporting software (download from MicroStrategy – ~ 1,8 GB!)
    NOTE: Registration is required before you can download MicroStrategy 9.
    Once registered you will receive an email with a license key that must be entered during the installation process.
  • A Infostore repository with at least some logging data in it
  • Microsoft Office 2002 or higher
  • Acrobat Reader version 7 or higher
  • Adobe Flash Player version 9.0

Once you have completed collecting all the material we can start with the installation process.


  1. Double-click the file MICROSTRATEGY9.exe to start the installation.
  2. Enter the license key you received from MicroStrategy.
  3. Follow the instructions and keep all default settings.
  4. Send activation request.
  5. Restart your computer.

After the installation you now need to activate and configure MicroStrategy properly.

Activation & Configuration

First open the “License Manager” from the start menu and switch to the tab “License Administration”. Click “Next” and select the option “Server Activation using Activation Code”. Now paste in the activation code you have received by email after you sent the activation request during the installation process of MicroStrategy.

License Manager

Click “Next” to finish the activation process.

Secondly you need to configure MicroStrategy to import the VoiceObjects Analyzer package and connect to your Infostore repository. If after restarting your machine the “Configuration Wizard” of MicroStrategy has not started automatically, you need to go to the start menu and open it manually. The “Configuration Wizard” is used to:

  • generate or update the metadata tables of MicroStrategy (as the downloaded package is already updated to MicroStrategy 9, this option can be skipped);
  • configure the MicroStrategy Intelligence Server;
  • create the connection to the project sources, which will be VoiceObjects Analyzer for MicroStrategy in our case.

Configuration Wizard Overview

  1. Select the option “MicroStrategy Intelligence Server”. Click “Next” to continue.Configuration Wizard IntelligenceServer
  2. On this screen the DSN (Data Source name) must be selected that represents the connection to the MicroStrategy metadata tables. Click “New” to define a new DSN.
  3. On the upcoming screen click “Next” to continue.Configuration Wizard IV
  4. Next, the appropriate driver for the DSN must be selected. Select “Other Relational Databases”. Click “Next” to continue.
    Configuration Wizard V
  5. Select the appropriate Microsoft Access driver, e.g.  “Microsoft Access Driver” if you have the English version of Microsoft Access installed. Click “Next” to continue.Configuration Wizard VI
  6. Define a name and description for the new DSN and click  “Select”. In the upcoming file dialog browse for the downloaded VoiceObjects Analyzer for MicroStrategy file (VoiceObjectsAnalyzer_forMicroStrategy_90.mdb) and click  “OK”.
  7. Click “OK” again to finally create this DSN.
  8. Back in the DSN screen you will find this new DSN selected. Click “Next” to continue.Configuration Wizard IntelligenceServerII
  9. If not already provided as default values use Administrator as user name and leave the password field empty. Click “Next” to continue.ConfigurationWizard IntelligenceServerIII
  10. Define a name for the new Intelligence Server, e.g. MicroStrategy. Click “Next” to continue.ConfigurationWizard IntelligenceServerIV
  11. Select the checkboxes “VoiceObjects Analyzer v9 R1″ in order to load the package on start-up and “Start Intelligence Server when finished” to start the Intelligence Server automatically after the configuration process. Click “Next” to continue.
  12. If a warning message pops up complaining about a missing DSN, this can be ignored. The missing DSN will be defined later in the configuration process.Server Summary
  13. Check the summary. Click “Finish” to finally start the configuration of the MicroStrategy Intelligence Server.
  14. After a successful configuration click “Close” to return to the Overview page of the Configuration Wizard.ConfigurationWizard Project
  15. Back on the Overview page select the option “Project Sources”. Click “Next” to continue.ConfigurationWizard Project II
  16. Define a name for the project source, e.g. VoiceObjects Analyzer, and select the option “MicroStrategy Intelligence Server (3 Tier)”. Click “Next” to continue.ConfigurationWizard Project III
  17. Select the machine on which your MicroStrategy Intelligence Server is running and provide the corresponding port number, if you have changed the default port. Click “Next” to continue.ConfigurationWizard Project IV
  18. Keep the default selection “Use login id and password entered by the user (standard authentication)”. Click “Next” to continue.ConfigurationWizard Project V
  19. Check the summary. Click “Finish” to finally start the creation of the new Project Source.
  20. After a successful configuration click “Close” to return to the Overview page of the Configuration Wizard.ConfigurationWizard Overview II
  21. Click “Exit” to close the Configuration Wizard.

Configure DSN to Infostore repository

As mentioned during the configuration of the MicroStrategy Intelligence Server, a DSN to the existing Infostore repository is needed. The VoiceObjects Analyzer for MicroStrategy package requires a DSN named Infostore_WH. Follow the steps described below in order to create this DSN.
NOTE: Depending on your Windows operating system, the steps might slightly differ from the description!

  1. Open the “Data Sources (ODBC)” window (Start -> Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Data Sources (ODBC)).
  2. Select the tab “System DSN”.
  3. Click “Add” to create a new DSN
    NOTE: If no DSN´s are listed here (althoug one has already been created in the Intelligence Server configuration), this might indicate that you are running MicroStrategy 9 (32 bit software) on a 64 bit operating system. In this case you need to open the “ODBC Data Source Administrator” manually by starting the application [Windows]/SysWOW64/odbcad32.exe.
  4. Select the driver that corresponds to your RDBMS containing the Infostore repository. Click “Finish” to continue.
  5. CAUTION: Take care to use the name Infostore_WH for the new DSN, as otherwise the VoiceObjects Analyzer project cannot be connected to the data in your Infostore repository.
  6. Follow the steps depending on the selected driver to properly define the connection to your Infostore repository.

Test of MicroStrategy Configuration

Once the DSN to the Infostore repository has been created successfully, you can test your setup by doing the following:

  1. Open the MicroStrategy Desktop (Start -> All Programs -> MicroStrategy -> Desktop -> Desktop).
  2. Provide the login details as defined in the Intelligence Server configuration (default is Administrator and empty password).
  3. Open the Project Source “VoiceObjects Analyzer” (or any other name you have defined in the Project Source creation process).
  4. Open the project “VoiceObjects Analyzer v9 R1″.
  5. Expand the folder “Data Explorer” -> “Application” -> “Site” and check if an entry “System” will be offered. If this is the case the connection to the Infostore repository is working.DesktopTest

Decisions are looming in your future

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

This one’s a first: Up until now, all “tips and tricks” articles referred to the current edition of Voxeo VoiceObjects Developer Edition. Today, however, we’ll grant you a look into the (foreseeable) future and whet your appetite with new functionality that will become available to you in the next couple of weeks. Use the Comments section below to let us know whether you’d like to see more such previews.

Voxeo VoiceObjects Developer Edition offers two connection modes: standalone and network.
In standalone mode, it is fully self-contained and works purely on the basis of its embedded database. This is great when you need to develop on-the-go, or just want to get started without the need to set up an elaborate infrastructure.
In network mode, you connect to a central Metadata Repository. This way you can collaborate within a team, share objects, and work on the same application simultaneously. Ideal when you work on larger projects.

If you’re like me, you’ll switch between these modes often – which, at the moment, can become a minor itch in the neck. Every time you need to open up the Preferences, go to the VoiceObjects section, switch the connection, click “OK”, then wait for the switch to be applied and the Repository Browser to refresh. And if you’re starting up with a network mode configuration in a “standalone environment” in which the central repository does not exist, you need to wait a moment for that to register, watch the Repository Browser go away, then go through the steps described above. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easier way?

Well, in the next VoiceObjects revision there will be! 9.0R1 will offer two enhancements with regard to the Metadata Repository connection:

  1. Switch connection from the VoiceObjects menu
    The VoiceObjects menu will have a new entry Switch connection mode that immediately lets you switch the repository connection without the need to go to the Preferences. Even better, this switch is “transient” in the sense that it does not change your preference settings.
  2. Select connection upon start-up
    For those who often move between different environments, there is also an additional switch in the Preferences called Ask for Metadata Repository connection on startup. When selected, Developer Edition asks on every start-up which mode it should work in. No more waiting for timeouts or clicking through error messages!

Not a big change, perhaps, but we think that it addresses a real need – and hopefully makes your user experience with Voxeo VoiceObjects Developer Edition more pleasant still. We’re looking forward to your feedback.

If you’d like to be among the first to know when 9.0 R1 is available on the Developer Portal, follow us on Twitter.

How to enable Infostore on your Developer Edition

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

A couple of weeks ago we had started to take a look at the structure of Infostore,  the VoiceObjects data repository for real-time caller behavior analysis. (Incidentally – yes, the second installment of this series is in the pipeline.)

 Infostore is the basis for statistical data analysis using Business Intelligence (BI) tools such as MicroStrategy (for which a free edition is available), SAP BusinessObjects or IBM Cognos. As such a certain amount of data is required to obtain useful and statistically significant reports. However we realize that many of you would like to explore the capabilities of Infostore even in your development environments using Voxeo VoiceObjects Developer Edition, so in this article we’ll show you how to enable Infostore in this setup. And it’s just about as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Set up a database
    Infostore, being a data repository, requires a relational database to live in. Since it is conceptually designed to hold many millions of records, it currently supports large-scale commercial database systems that can do this with high performance, including Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, and PostgreSQL.
    For evaluations all of these provide free versions that can be downloaded; one that is particularly easy to work with and that we’ll use in this article is Microsoft SQL Server Express. Installation and configuration of the database itself is very straightforward. Appendix B of the Installation Guide provides  instructions on how to set things up.
  2. Create the Infostore schema
    Once you have a database user and (empty) schema, it is time to create the tables and fill them with initial configuration data. Infostore supports partitioned and non-partitioned tables; in this article we will use the non-partitioned version since the data volume for evaluation will be limited.
    So the first thing to do is to run the script LDCreate.sql that can be found in <EclipseFolder>\plugins\com.voiceobjects.eclipseDesktop_9.0.0\driver\db\SQLServer of your Developer Edition installation. This creates all of the database tables that Infostore needs.
    After this has finished successfully, run LDConfigure.sql from the same folder. This inserts a whole bunch of static look-up data into the tables and prepares Infostore for its use.
  3. Configure Developer Edition
    With the preparations of the two preceding steps, we can now point Voxeo VoiceObjects Developer Edition to use this Infostore repository.
    Open the configuration file Eclipse_Configuration.xml that is located in <EclipseFolder>\plugins\com.voiceobjects.eclipseDesktop_9.0.0\config and locate the section System Log Repository Connection. Within this section, there is a single <connection> entry.
    Set its enabled attribute to true (the default entry is false). Then set the correct database type <rdbms>, connection URL <dburl>, user <user> and password <password>.  There are examples for the various supported database types; for SQL Server it will be something like:
  4. Start Developer Edition and make your calls
    After having changed and saved the configuration file, (re-)start your Developer Edition. If you have configured a Control Center entry for the embedded server, you should see a green light in the System DB Logging column.
    Deploy an application using the Test Application command and make a call either with a media platform such as Voxeo Prophecy or using the Debug Viewer. This will create the first fact record entries in your Infostore repository.
  5. Enjoy
    To explore the entries created in Infostore, refer to the sample SQL queries listed here. Or take a look at the Infostore Guide to learn more about advanced features.

As always, if you have any problems, questions, or suggestions do not hesitate to contact our Extreme Support.

And if you want to learn how you can fill your new Infostore repository faster than by manually making calls, join us for our next Developer Jam Session taking place on July 29 at 11am Eastern to learn about LoadTester. Registration is open now.

Peek under the hood

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Are you the kind of person who took apart gadgets when you were young, just to see what they looked like on the inside? Are you unafraid of getting your hands a little dirty to better understand how the cogs move the shafts? Then this article is for you!

Voxeo VoiceObjects Developer Edition provides you with an all-in-one framework for building, testing, deploying, and monitoring phone applications using multiple phone channels such as voice, texting, or mobile web. It does this in part by incorporating a full-fledged Voxeo VoiceObjects platform “under the hood”, configured and operated in such a way that you do not need to see or touch it for all standard tasks. Just like the motor in your car it just runs whenever you turn the key, and the only maintenance required is an oil change every now and then. Yet the hood isn’t welded shut, and if you really want to you can sneak a peek inside. As a first step what we’ll do today is to create a Control Center entry for the embedded server, so you can watch its status and activity.

The Control Center is the graphical component that lets you monitor and control VoiceObjects servers, either on their own or in clusters. A detailed description of the functions and capabilities can be found within the Deployment Guide.
To configure a Control Center connection in Voxeo VoiceObjects Developer Edition, open the Eclipse preferences and go to the VoiceObjects section.


The bottom half of the pane lists all configured Control Center connections; initially (as shown in the screen shot) this list is empty. Click “Add…” to add a new connection. This brings up a new window in which to configure the connection.


For a connection to the embedded server we use the default VoiceObjects account voadmin (which, if you haven’t changed it, has the default password manager). Again by default, the port used by the embedded server is 8070. The Testing URL parameter is used by the Debug Viewer, so it isn’t strictly required but convenient to have in place. Finally, an Alias is required to identify the Control Center connection since you can have any number of them.

Once you have defined your Control Center connection and stored the updated preferences, your Control Center view should look like this:


If the Control Center view should not be open in your Eclipse perspective, you can open it from the Window menu.


The first tab within the Control Center view, called Server Manager, gives an overview of the VoiceObjects Server and the corresponding server instances. For the embedded server in Voxeo VoiceObjects Developer Edition, there is only a single server instance on localhost.
The second tab, called Service Manager, lists all services deployed on the server.


On the embedded server, there is only a single service called testService. Do not be unduly alarmed if it shows a yellow warning triangle as in the screen shot above – usually this simply means that you haven’t actually deployed an application yet, so the service doesn’t quite know what to do with itself. A situation that can easily be rectified by deploying an application using the Test Application entry in the Object Browser context menu:


This brings up the Test Monitor view – which actually is a simplified version of the Control Center you have just created!


When you switch back to the Control Center view and click the refresh button (the intertwining green arrows just above the drop-down selection box) your service entry should now be green and happy:


A right-click on the service opens up the context menu of available actions, including the ability to start a Debug Viewer session for the service. This does the exact same thing as clicking the Debug button in the Test Monitor view.


The other context menu entries will no doubt be tempting to play with, but we’d strongly recommend to at least read the documentation before doing so to avoid unexpected results. 
Don’t say we didn’t warn you! :-)

After completing a call in the Debug Viewer and going back to the Control Center view (and possibly hitting the refresh button again) you’ll see your successful call listed in the Finished column.


In this final screen shot, you may notice the black lamp in the System DB Logging column that will show the tool tip Overridden when you place your mouse over it. This is due to the fact that while the service would like to write its statistics to the Infostore database, no appropriate connection has been configured for the server. This is something we’ll jointly rectify next week. Until then you may want to brush up your Infostore knowledge so you’re all set and ready to go.

With your new Control Center entry and the server’s activity in full view, you may be interested in seeing the wheels spin at higher speeds. Our next Developer Jam Session, scheduled for July 29 at 11am Eastern, will feature Andreas Volmer talking about the LoadTester component of the Voxeo VoiceObjects platform which, unsurprisingly, is designed for load testing your applications. Registration is highly recommended!

The power of copy&paste

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

After we’ve seen last week how to keep the Voxeo VoiceObjects Developer Edition well-oiled, and how to make best use of the Outline view, it’s time this week to take a look at some hands-on tips. We know that tastes differ, and that the keyboard – and particularly the CTRL+C / CTRL+V keys – have a special place in many a developer’s heart. So today we’ll take a look at the shortcut notation that can be used to create object references without ever having to touch your mouse.

Our examples use the Output object, but the same functionality is available in other structurally similar places such as e.g. the Log object. The screenshots in this article use the Canyon theme to provide some diversity.

Voxeo VoiceObjects Developer Edition is based on the concept of drag&drop, and many users will want to assemble their objects e.g by typing static portions and then bringing in object references by dragging them from the Object Browser or from the Object Palette.


This creates a textual reference to the object indicated by square brackets and boldface, e.g. [V:Song]. Double-clicking the reference opens the respective object editor, and the object’s short description is displayed in a tool tip when the mouse hovers over the reference.


Dragging and dropping is swell, but sometimes you know exactly which objects you want to reference and would prefer not to interrupt the flow of typing. And the great thing is that in these cases, you can also just type in the textual reference!


To make this as easy as possible, object references are validated in real time as you type. So when you start with something like [V: and then type the name of the Variable object to be referenced (more on object types below) followed by a closing bracket ] the object reference is recognized and automatically highlighted in boldface.


But what if you mistyped the object name? Well, that’s recognized, too, and indicated by red font and question marks:


You can simply correct the typo (in this case replace the “i” by an “o”) and the reference will again automatically and immediately change into the boldface [V:Song]. Neat, right?
And despite all the extra functionality of being clickable and showing tool tips, the shortcut notation references still are “normal” text, so you can handle them like you would any other text. In particular, you can copy and paste them e.g. from one Output item to another, or from an Output object to a Log object.

Before saving an object you should make sure that all invalid references are corrected. Why?
A correctly established object reference is stored internally as such, i.e. in our example the Voxeo VoiceObjects platform knows that when processing the Output object, it needs to refer to the value of the Variable object “Song”. When saving the Output object with the invalid reference to the “Sing” variable, no such dependency can be established and therefore what you intended as a reference will (need to) be treated as pure text. So instead of “You are about to download Like a Virgin” you’ll hear “You are about to download Sing”.

As mentioned above, the different types of objects that can be referenced using shortcut notation are identified by the initial letter following the opening bracket (note that not all types are appropriate in all places, e.g. an Output object cannot be referenced within a Log object):

  • [A:Audio] references an Audio object
  • [C:Collection] references a Collection object
  • [E:Expression] references an Expression object
  • [L:Layer] references a Layer object
  • [M:Movie] references a Video object
  • [O:Output] references an Output object
  • [S:Silence] references a Silence object
  • [V:Variable] references a Variable object
  • [X:Script] references a Script object (which is eXecutable)

So the next time you need to insert an object reference into your Output item or Log entry, be aware of your options. Nothing wrong with dragging and dropping; nothing wrong with just typing along. All just a matter of taste.

By the way, to pre-empt a common feature request: We know that it would be *really* neat if you could start typing e.g. [V:So and be presented with a list of possible completions. It’s high on our own wish list, too; stay tuned and you may see this and other things show up in future versions.

Finally, if you’re reading this close the date of original posting, there’s still time to register for our next Developer Jam Session. It’s coming up this Wednesday, June 24, at 11am Eastern and deals with Integrating advanced call control in VoiceObjects applications using CCXML.
And if you’ reading this article at your leisure later on – fear not, because our archived jam sessions are available here for your convenience.

How to grease lightning

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

After our recent lengthy article on the benefits of the editor outline, today’s is a much shorter but no less important tip when working with Voxeo VoiceObjects Developer Edition.

As you may know, the Developer Edition provides a convenient all-in-one packaging of the entire Voxeo VoiceObjects platform. One of its invisible parts is an embedded database that is used to store all object definitions and deployed services. It is based on the acclaimed Apache Derby DB and usually provides you with excellent, reliable, and fast service whenever you turn the key. In grateful return, you should tend to its needs every now and then.

When you work on your applications, entries in the database are created, modified, and deleted. Over time, this can lead to a certain amount of disorder and dirt that accumulates in the DB tables - engine gunk, as they call it in the car commercials. It can lead to sluggish performance e.g. when opening projects or saving objects. Not to worry, though, since there is an easy solution that you can apply without ever having to open the hood.

From the VoiceObjects menu, select the entry Optimize Embedded Database.


This starts a fully automatic clean-up and optimization process, which may take a couple of minutes depending on how big (and dirty) your database has become.


This time is very well spent, however, since after it is finished you will likely notice a significant boost in responsiveness and performance. Cleaner engines do run faster.

Think of it as an occasional oil change for your IDE. No need to do it on a weekly basis, but every couple of months or whenever you have the feeling that Developer Edition has become noticeably slower than it used to be is a good time.