Jane Thalen, Software Engineer, Nortel Networks

Speech Technology Magazine: You recently were one of the first people certified as a VoiceXML 2.0 developer. Why is it important to become certified? Jane Thalen: VoiceXML certification demonstrates the expertise and standards compliance required to compete in today's speech technology market. Three constituencies benefit from VoiceXML conformity: employees, employers and customers.   Employees benefit by increasing their job satisfaction, gaining respect from their colleagues and employers and increasing their value, thereby making them ideal candidates for enhanced job growth and compensation. Employers benefit from standards compliance as it levels the playing field among competitive vendors, increases buying power and leads to a more cost-effective end product. Customers benefit as it gives them the ability to share Web-based infrastructures with voice processing capabilities, thereby reducing operating costs by consolidating application processing facilities, promoting vendor-independence, reusing code and porting applications to other platforms or to a hosted environment.   STM: Please describe the certification process. JT: To become a VoiceXML 2.0 Certified Developer, you must know the following W3C specifications:  

  • VoiceXML 2.0
  • Speech Synthesis Markup Language 1.0
  • Speech Recognition Grammar Language 1.0
  • Semantic Interpretation Language 1.0
  • Call Control CCXML 1.0
  • ECMAScript 262/327
Having a good working knowledge of these specifications, and speech technology itself, prepares you to take the certification test. For instructions to sign up and take the test at any one of the 5,000 testing centers worldwide, go to http://www.voicexmlforum.org/certification/developer_registration.html. The test takes about two hours, after which the test results are given.   STM: What did you think of the certification testing process? JT: VoiceXML 2.0 developer certification closes the loop in the overall testing process. Certification highlights the importance of the standard and the impact that speech technology is having in today's marketplace.   The test does an excellent job of covering all aspects of the VoiceXML 2.0 implementation and specifications. The testing process itself is very straightforward and with the availability of so many testing centers, is also very convenient.   STM: Why is this important for your clients? JT: Becoming certified in VoiceXML is extremely important for our clients because they are guaranteed a more robust speech application with fewer defects in less time, due to the knowledge of the application developers on their project. Clients are able to leverage programming resources, integrate systems and incorporate new capabilities quickly and easily, as VoiceXML provides interfacing with their existing Web infrastructures. Knowing that a vendor is committed to standards compliance is appealing to clients, as they are more inclined to do business with a company whose employees are certified. As platforms become more standardized, having certified, skilled application developers who can design and implement the best speech technology solution is becoming more and more important.   STM: Does this improve Nortel Networks' ability to deliver speech applications? JT: Yes! Having employees that are VoiceXML certified greatly improves Nortel Networks' ability to design, implement and deploy speech applications. Not to mention the fact that it highlights Nortel's commitment to standards compliance. The merging of Web-based applications with voice processing allows Nortel to accelerate the delivery of products and services to our customers. Using VoiceXML allows us to interface with our customers' existing Web infrastructures. Therefore, having VoiceXML certified developers allows Nortel Networks to provide superior service to our customers. Nortel Networks has delivered many VoiceXML applications that have been very successful for our customers, handling millions of calls each day.   STM: What steps would you suggest someone take if they are interested in VoiceXML developer certification? JT: For anyone interested in becoming certified, I would recommend the VoiceXML Forum's Web site ( http://www.voicexml.org/ ) as it contains a wealth of information about VoiceXML, including tutorials and links to other VoiceXML sites. I would also suggest that they develop experience by writing and testing applications. Also, I recommend that interested people seek advice and mentorship from people who are already certified.   STM: Are there any suggestions you would provide the Forum on improving the process? JT: Overall I believe the Forum has done a great job. I think the VoiceXML Forum could improve the certification process by including additional tutorials on their Web site. Currently, there is only a tutorial for VoiceXML. It would be helpful if there were tutorials on other W3C specifications such as SSML, SRGS, SI and CCXML.

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