Envox Is in Good Voice

 
 
By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2006-01-30
 
 
 

Envox Is in Good Voice


For companies looking for a voice application development and deployment solution, Envox Worldwides Envox 6 Communications Development Platform provides broad standards support and easy-to-manage tools.



Click here to read the full review of Envox 6 Communications Development Platform.

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For companies looking for a voice application development and deployment solution, Envox Worldwides Envox 6 Communications Development Platform provides broad standards support and easy-to-manage tools.

The Envox 6 Communications Development Platform includes Envox Communications Server for hosting applications and Envox Studio for developing them. Also available is Envox VoiceXML Studio, which is used for developing voice applications in VoiceXML.

eWEEK Labs tested Version 6.2 of the Envox platform, as well as Envox VoiceXML Studio 6.1, using both Envox Studio and Envox VoiceXML Studio to write applications deployed on Envox Communications Server.

Click here to read about new speech specs from the W3C.

Version 6.2 of Envox Communications Development Platform began shipping in November and is affordably priced, based on the components and number of ports used. Envox Studio costs $5,000 per seat, and Envox Communications Server is priced at $350 per port. Envox VoiceXML Studio costs $500 per seat when purchased with Envox Studio or $5,000 when purchased separately.

eWEEK Labs tests show that Envox has done a good job of supporting voice and telephony standards, as well as third-party systems. Using the platform, companies will be able to integrate new IVR (Interactive Voice Response) applications with existing telephony applications or to replace older applications altogether.

Both Envox Studio and Envox VoiceXML Studio are graphical development environments that allow users to create and manage projects and scripts. Envox Studio is a broader development tool for managing the integration of back-end applications with telephony technologies, including e-mail, fax and PBX. Envox VoiceXML Studio, on the other hand, makes it easier for developers to graphically map and write VoiceXML scripts. Developers also can integrate DLLs and applications written in C/C++ or Visual Basic into new applications though Envox Studio.

We found that both Envox Studio and Envox VoiceXML Studio do a good job of abstracting many of the elements of application design, making it possible for developers with limited experience in creating telephone and voice applications to easily pick up the tools with some basic training. Both tools allow developers to map out call logic via a flowchart using predefined blocks of call logic. Both environments also include a script debugging feature for validating application logic.

Next Page: Envox Studio

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Envox Studio provides a richer development environment than Envox VoiceXML Studio, both in terms of the systems developers can access and the graphical tools available.

For example, with Envox Studio, we could drag elements for managing telephony actions, calling scripts and variables, and for connecting to databases. We defined the necessary values for each block element, such as database connection settings, through each elements properties via the right mouse button. Blocks display each elements possible results in table form, so developers easily can map potential results to the next step merely by connecting to the next block.

We liked the flexibility Envox Studio affords developers for building out scripts. We found it easy to nest scripts within a main script in a way that made it easy to avoid cluttering the main window with complex call logic. Developers can easily add block elements, either through a tool-bar menu or PickList. We appreciated the inclusion of block search and bookmarking capabilities because call flowcharts can become so complex that individual elements can be difficult to find.

Next Page: Envox VoiceXML Studio

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Envox VoiceXML studio shares many of the same elements of Envox Studio. Developers will be working with a different set of audio properties to define and manage prompts and responses based on the VoiceXML standard, however. This means that the scope of packaged elements is more limited than in Envox Studio, with Envox VoiceXML Studio including more basic elements that require the developer to create specific types of database interactions or new menus.

We like the way Envox VoiceXML Studio puts element properties at hand in a separate window. Each element has a number of predefined properties. For example, the credit-card-transaction element has fields for collecting and confirming data points such as credit card numbers, ZIP codes and security codes.

Elements include common modifiable settings for assigning a confidence level for voice or touch-tone transactions. With these settings we could also define the vocabulary we expected a caller to use for a given menu item. Through the properties windows, we defined audio prompts that accessed the text-to-speech engine, as well as transaction logging.

Developers can use Envox VoiceXML Studio independent of Envox Studio to create VoiceXML 2.0-compatible files that can be used with any VoiceXML 2.0-compliant speech application platform. In addition to saving scripts in VoiceXML, Envox VoiceXML Studio generates projects as JavaScript code that can run on either Envoxs own application server or an application server such as IBMs WebSphere.

Next Page: Envox Console

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The Envox Console is the component that allowed us to manage servers, applications, modules, channels, licenses and logging. The console made it easy to start and stop channels, as well as to load applications on a given channel. There are no reporting tools built into the console, but logs can be saved in native or text format.

We liked the flexibility inherent in the Envox platform, particularly its support for VOIP (voice over IP) through SIP (Session Initiation Protocol). The platform supports SIP call controls for call transfer and messages. The platform also supports Intel NetStructure Host Media Processing software for Intels telecommunications hardware.

Envox supports speech applications from Nuance Communications, including OpenSpeech Recognizer and Nuance 8.5 speech recognition applications, as well as RealSpeak and Nuance Vocalizer for text to speech. Companies can also build secure speech applications with Envox using both Nuance SpeechSecure and Nuance Verifier speaker recognition applications.

In addition to these tools for writing applications and running them on a telephony server, Envox offers a computer telephony integration application, Envox CTI Link for Envox CT Connect.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.

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Evaluation Shortlist

Microsofts Speech Server 2004 SALT (Speech Application Language Tags)-based speech application server that simplifies development of multimodal applications (www.microsoft.com)

Nuance Communications Nuance Voice Platform Comprehensive VoiceXML-based speech application platform from the leading speech recognition vendor (www.nuance.com)

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Customer Interaction Management Platform Broad customer-support application that combines voice-, e-mail- and chat-based customer support (www.genesyslab.com)

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at michael_caton@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.

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