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Intelligent Machines

Programming Out Loud

Writing software by voice can be extremely tedious. Code that would take a few keystrokes to type must be spoken as lengthy word strings containing hyphens, slashes and barely pronounceable commands. Alain Dsilets of the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa is developing a software tool called VoiceCode that makes programming by voice a lot simpler. Instead of having to dictate tongue-twisting syntax, the programmer can use a simplified pseudocode. The software infers punctuation symbols from context, for example, liberating the programmer from having to utter every comma, bracket and semicolon. It automatically converts the pseudocode into working code in such common languages as C, C++ or Java. Dsilets plans to begin distributing VoiceCode as a free, open-source application early in 2002.

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