RealTime IT News

VoiceXML Forum To Certify Developers

Developers can test and gain certification as a VoiceXML Developer, thanks to a test suite and educational track designed by the VoiceXML Forum, officials announced Tuesday.

Certification tracks, while not used as proof of in-depth knowledge but as an indicator of certain baseline knowledge, are conducted on many programming languages and operating systems. For officials at the VoiceXML Forum, the idea with the certification process is to lend more legitimacy to the relatively new programming spec.

Developer support for VoiceXML is certainly on the fast-track; the VoiceXML 2.0 and SRGS specs weren't finalized until March. VoiceXML Forum officials started developing a platform certification test suite concurrently with the specifications back in October 2003, so applications by different vendors were still "on the same page," according to an official at the time.

The VoiceXML Forum is made up of industry vendors like AT&T and IBM who have a vested interest in the development of voice applications that conform to World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards. W3C shepherds technical development of VoiceXML standards while the VoiceXML Forum focuses on interoperability -- of which certification is but one part -- as part of a memorandum of understanding signed between the two in 2001.

The certification process will test wannabes on five essential specifications within the voice applications standard: VoiceXML 2.0, Speech Synthesis Markup Language 1.0 (SSML), Speech Recognition Grammar Language 1.0 (SRGS), Semantic Interpretation Language 1.0 (SIL) and the XML Call Control Language 1.0 (ccXML).

Taken together the technologies are used to develop applications for companies that cut down on customer support time. Today, people "touch" VoiceXML apps every time they call up an airline agency or telephone company and are asked to say "one" or "two" at the prompt. In coming years, VoiceXML will be much more robust, allowing customers to order a new part without ever talking to a human, using conversational English (or Chinese, Germany, French, etc.) to fill out the invoice.

Jim Larson, co-chair of the W3C voice browser working group and a manager at Intel , said the certification track is an important milestone for the speech apps standards community.

"The availability of this certification exam is an important milestone in the commercial maturity of VoiceXML speech applications," he said in a statement. "The VoiceXML developer certification exam will enable companies to audit their development teams' familiarity with best practices and serve as an important credential for individuals seeking to join those teams."

The two-hour test itself costs $150 to take and is administered by proctor Thomson Prometric. Programmers who successfully complete the test will be listed on the VoiceXML Forum Web site.