Emacspeak-98 Release Notes

Announcing Emacspeak-98

For Immediate Release

Interactive Accessibility Provides Speech-Enabled WebTop

What Is It?

Emacspeak is a fully functional audio desktop that provides complete eyes-free access to all major open 32 and 64 bit operating systems. By seamlessly blending all aspects of the Internet such as Web-surfing and electronic messaging into the audio desktop, Emacspeak enables speech access to local and remote information with a consistent and well-integrated user interface.

Major Enhancements

  1. Usability enhancements including:
    1. Smart prefix recognition
    2. Flexible customization of dictionaries
    3. Pause and resume
    4. Lazy voice-lock for faster audio formatting
    5. Enhanced outline support
  2. Support for games including gomoku and tetris.
  3. Better support for running remote sessions.
  4. Supports many additional major modes.
+ Preliminary support for the recently released Emacs 20.


Emacspeak-98 (Labrador) is a major upgrade to the speech output extension to Emacs. Emacspeak-95 (code named Illinois) was released on the Internet in May 1995 as the first complete speech interface to UNIX workstations. The subsequent release, Emacspeak-96 (code named Egypt) made available in May 1996 provided significant enhancements to the interface. Emacspeak-97 (Tennessee) went further in providing a true audio desktop. Emacspeak-98 goes further by integratingInternetWorking into all aspects of the audio desktop to provide the first fully interactive speech-enabled WebTop.

Obtaining Emacspeak

Visit Emacspeak at http://cs.cornell.edu/home/raman --You can also pick up emacspeak via anonymous ftp from ftp://ftp.cs.cornell.edu/pub/raman/emacspeak/. You can subscribe to the emacspeak mailing list emacspeak@cs.vassar.edu by sending mail to the list owner greg e. priest-dorman.

Based at Cornell (NY) http://cs.cornell.edu/home/raman --home to some of the most innovative auditory interfaces on the WWW-- Emacspeak is mirrored world-wide by an international netwrok of software archives. The Emacspeak mailing list is archived at Vassar --the home of the Emacspeak mailing list-- thanks to Greg Priest-Dorman.

Press/Analyst Contact: Aster Labrador

CopyWrite )C( Aster Labrador. All Writes Reserved.
Labrador (DM) Is A Registered Dogmark of Aster Labrador.

What Is New?

Pause And Resume
Emacspeak-98 implements an extremely responsive pause/resume feature. With this, you can now have Emacspeak-98 speak large documents and easily pause and resume speech. When speech is paused, you can move around the document, read words, lines and characters and then resume speech where you left off.
Emacspeak-98 supports the newly released Emacs 20.2. I have been using emacspeak with emacs 20 for about a month now.
Versions of the Emacs W3 WWW browser beyond W3 3.0.86 are difficult to install under a default Emacs 19.34 setup. If you plan to use later releases of W3 --I use W3 4.0-- you should first upgrade to Emacs 20.2
CC Mode
Newer versions of Barry Warsaw's CC-mode (5.xx) are bundled with Emacs 20.2 and later. Emacspeak supports this fully, and you get support for C++, java etc. with a unified interface. Once again, installing cc-mode 5.xx under a default emacs-19.34 installation may be difficult due to conflicts with older versions of the custom libraries.
Hiding Blocks
Emacspeak-98 has a flexible mechanism to allow you to hide and expose blocks of text where a block of text is a sequence of lines with a common prefix. This is extremely useful when reading conversation threads in email, browsing through source code with many lines commented out etc.
You can now define pronunciations that are local to a buffer. Such definitions are temporary and not written out to the Emacspeak dictionary.
Defining Pronunciations
You can now use the contents of current region as the default when defining dictionary entries. Also see command emacspeak-pronounce-yank-word.
Mobile Desktop
In conjunction with screen (available from ftp://ftp.uni-erlangen.de) Emacspeak-98 provides you with a powerful mobile desktop. I routinely run Emacspeak under Screen 3.7.4 on my Sun workstation and attach to the running Screen session from my laptop. Once attached, The Emacspeak session running under Screen on the Sun connects to a speech server (see below) on my laptop. Thus, you get the same effect as setting your X Display to point to your local machine with the added advantage of being able to use a single session from different locations.
Remote Sessions
Emacspeak-98 now lets you run a remote speech server to have speech output from a remote Emacspeak session go to your local desktop. Prior versions of Emacspeak did this by launching the speech server via an RSH (remote shell) command --this was difficult to use when using DHCP (Dynamic IP)-- e.g. when you connect via PPP and get a different hostname each time. Emacspeak-98 now lets you communicate with the remote speech server via a TCP socket --see the notes in file remote.txt in the Emacspeak distribution.
TAR And ZIP Archives
Emacspeak now speech-enables the various modes for dealing with compressed archives.
Enriched Text
Emacspeak-98 provides audio formatted output for the various modes that use Enriched-Text. This means that if you receive mime-encoded email with richtext, the messages will be automatically audio formatted as they are decoded.
Buffer Indices
Emacspeak-98 speech-enables package imenu to provide context-sensitive buffer indices for easy navigation. A W3 addon w3-imenu.el (part of the contrib code in Emacs W3) uses this feature to enable navigation around W3 buffers --so now you can open a WWW page and move through the various sections with a single keystroke.
Abbrev Mode
Abbrev-mode is now speech-enabled so you hear the expansion of the abbreviation instead of the abbrev you typed in.
Outline Mode
Emacspeak-98 extends outline mode with interactive commands that let you browse through the various outline levels. Check out commands emacspeak-outline-speak-next-heading and friends.
Lazy Voice Lock
Lazy voice-locking speeds up voiceification (aural syntax coloring or audio formatting based on syntax) by only voiceifying parts of the buffer that are currently being displayed.
Emacspeak-98 speech-enables Emacs' bookmark feature. This allows you to mark positions in documents and return to them in later sessions.
Remote Auditory Displays
Emacspeak-98 can use a remote auditory display to produce both speech and auditory icons on a local desktop while running on a remote machine.
You can make up for the time Emacspeak saves you with its productive interface by playing the following games:
Check this out --tetris itself is not bundled with Emacs-- but it is a fun game to play with Emacspeak.
I've not managed to beat Emacs at this game --the best I have been able to do is to draw.
Not the card game-- but the board game known as HiQ in North America and as Solitaire in Europe.

Here is a link to the release notes for the previous major release, Emacspeak-97++

Email: raman@adobe.com
Last modified: Mon Nov 10 21:05:17 1997