Look, the buzz on Speech Server 2007 continues:

That last one, that's the best (disclaimer: I'm Stephen Potter and may not be fully impartial). But tuning and analytics as a topic always comes last on the agenda. So at our upcoming partner event I've got pretty much the last presentation slot on the last day. But tuning and reporting happens last in the cycle, right, so that's OK, isn't it?

Nope! Hell, nope! I'm not going to go so far as to say tuning should be first, but I am going to say that anyone who puts off analytical considerations any longer than day one is going to need to rewrite their app. Before you even sit down to design it, figuring out the goals of your application and how you will measure them will save you untold pain. For example: what are the tasks and subtasks of the application for which you want measure user success or failure? That needs business input because it typically reflects the return on investment of the system, and your manager will put you out of a job if you can't show how much money you are saving them with your fancy persona and slick dialog flow. (It's like web sites - the best ones are easy to use not because they have cool animations but because they are designed on the basis of common or personalized user interactions.) The same applies to spoken dialog - it's all about the data. With the tools in Speech Server 2007, we're trying make it easier to close the loop in the development cycle between design and tuning, with automated and simplified instrumentation in our design tools, and of course with the rich set of data analysis tools that I blogged about earlier and will blog ceaselessly about until Clint stops me.

And the buzz around the new release is partly blog-driven, which is great. One thing I like about communication in blogdom is not only the personal touch of bloggers, but also the dialogues with readers that can result. As a blogger on MSDN, I've learned a lot from the comments to my posts (both direct and offline) and I think I'm more in touch with customers and the industry as a result. And this model works both ways: blog readers (you, yes, you there, pay attention) have an opportunity to talk directly to the engineers and managers of products that affect you. Let me say now that every Speech Server blogger that I know takes great interest in the comments and feedback on their posts, and I encourage anyone out there with an interest to go ahead and make a feature request, ask a question, or just vent... What cool app have you deployed on Speech Server? What do you want to see in future versions? Are you having any technical issues? What do you like? What do you hate? What kind of topics do you want to see on this blog? Let us know. You Talkin' to Me really is all about you talkin'.

Finally, I can't leave 'the buzz' without an aside. It reminds me of a bug we recently found in the runtime where our audio recording beep was sounding more like an unwelcome bodily function. "Extremely unpleasant", as the tester who wrote the bug tactfully put it. Funny thing is, we can't fully fix it before Beta due to an upstream dependency. (Don't ask. And there is a workaround.) So sign up for the Beta now, and get a load of our beep!