Dev Bytes

The continuing development of text-to-speech capabilities for wireless devices received a promising boost with the release of the first specifications by the industry-led SALT Forum.

In an announcement, the SALT Forum, the group of companies that’s been working since last year to establish Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) to accelerate text-to-speech capabilities in wireless devices, said its first specifications have been assembled and submitted to an unnamed standards group for consideration. Once the first specifications receive the nod from the standards group, the SALT Forum members hope that developers begin using them to create new applications and hardware with new speech capabilities. Rob Kassel, product manager for emerging technologies at SpeechWorks International Inc. in Boston, one of the SALT Forum companies, said that by having clear specifications and support from a standards group, SALT hopes to encourage the next round of innovation in speech and text features in wireless devices.

Microsoft improving .Net Framework

Microsoft Corp. in the late-2003 timeframe plans to release the next version of the .Net Framework, code-named Whidbey, a company spokesman confirmed recently. The major release of the company’s Web development framework is expected to feature rapid application design for Web services, based on work from the company’s Global XML Web Services Architecture toolkit team, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

The .Net Framework is Microsoft’s tool set for building and integrating XML Web services, Windows-based applications, and Web solutions. “We’re always working on new ways to improve the developer experience, so you can expect that we’ll be talking about this in the future,” the spokesperson said. Federated support to boost reliability of Web activities also is planned for use in Web servers or other links. Other improvements planned include upgraded support for the Visual Studio.Net development environment, an improved ASP.Net programming model and .Net extensions for Visual Basic 6, Visual C++ and Office developers, the Microsoft spokesperson confirmed.

Tools turn IM into a query service for businesses

Want to know how many sick days you have left this year? Why not send an instant message to your human resources database and find out? That’s one of the capabilities being promised by ActiveBuddy Inc., which has released a software development kit (SDK) and server software that can be used by companies to create applications that run on top of instant messaging systems.

Using what the company refers to as interactive agents, or “bots,” ActiveBuddy’s software allows users to mine databases or Web sites and obtain answers to questions using messaging systems from AOL Time Warner Inc. (AOLTW), Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp., as well as other text messaging software. Developers can use the BuddyScript SDK to write interactive agents that mine information from databases in a corporate network or on the Internet. End users at a company can then add a new contact, or “buddy,” to their instant messaging software that makes use of those agents to retrieve answers to questions, company officials said.

AMD’s forthcoming Hammer chips get tool vendor support

Several vendors of tools for software development have announced their support for Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s (AMD) upcoming Opteron and Athlon chips.

Etnus LLC, MigraTec Inc., Numerical Algorithms Group, and STMicroelectronics NV will release versions of their existing products for the chips, which adds to the number of software and hardware vendors who have already pledged support. Hammer is the code name for AMD’s x86-64 technology, which blends 64-bit technology with the x86 microprocessor family run by most of the world’s computers, so software written for AMD’s older 32-bit technology will be able to run on Hammer chips without being recompiled. Opteron is the chip for servers and workstations, while AMD will keep its desktop brand name, Athlon, for the new Hammer desktop chip.