By Kimberly Patch
Ten years ago the Boston Voice Users Group (BVUG) constructed a top 10 Christmas list of features and fixes we wanted for Dragon NaturallySpeaking Version 7. We solicited ideas by email and had a meeting where people brought more ideas and several dozen active Dragon users voted to rank the top 10. A voice users group in New York City got wind of the project and came up with their own version. Each group sent its top 10 list to Dragon maker Nuance, which at the time was still called ScanSoft. We also sent a supplemental list of 45 suggestions, also ranked by importance.
To our great disappointment, we heard nothing back.
I thought it might be interesting to look at those lists 10 years later, and come up with a new, 2013 list aimed at Dragon 12.5. There is no longer a Boston Voice users group.
The first two items of this year’s Christmas list are the #1 and #4 suggestions from the decade-old list. They are at the top again this year because I believe that if they’d been implemented 10 years ago we would be in a very different place with speech now. Better late than never.
#1: An email suggestion box that is separate from tech support (no personal response necessary) This would enable people to send in suggestions without being charged
#2: A ScanSoft [now Nuance] employee whose job description includes using NatSpeak *all the time*
#3: This is a bit of a cheat because it’s more than one suggestion. It’s a small bundle of suggestions from the decades-old list and supplemental list that are all on the same topic. This group of features would’ve helped what was at the time an active group of users writing custom commands to improve Dragon, and helping other users by doing so. I believe that if these suggestions had been implemented a decade ago Dragon would have a much more thriving user community today. Again, better late than never.
- A link that allows you to open a macro file by clicking on a command in the command history dialog box
- Commands that make the command browser usable hands-free
- An easier way to disable built-in commands or at least change their names
- A way to turn off a single or a set of installed macros
- A way to assign a set of macros to multiple programs
#4 and #5: A pair of suggestions from a decade ago that address user frustration:
Better recognition logic or an option that will cut down on misrecognitions that are ungrammatical (“he walk”)
A strong correction option in the correction box to learn after 1 correction as if you had corrected 10 times
#6: A fix for the problem of a current window losing focus when there is no reason for it to have lost focus (this must be corrected by clicking the mouse in the window, which only sometimes works, or switching to another program and back). A related problem here is Dragon not realizing it’s in a dictation field. Since this has been so difficult to fix, let me suggest a more modest proposal – a practical workaround. Let the user tell Dragon to act like it’s dictating into a text box.
#7: A fix for the problem in Microsoft Word of periodic loss of connection to the text, which disables the Select and Say commands.
In 2009, shortly after Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 came out I wrote a blog entry suggesting 10 improvements for Dragon 10. The last three items on this year’s list – #8, #9, and #10 – are the top three items from the 2009 blog entry:
- I’d like a default user option that would let me start the program hands-free.
- I’d like the ability to check audio settings hands-free.
- I’d also like the ability to save and switch Check Audio settings — this is useful if you travel a lot. I do an audio check whenever I land someplace new, but there’s no reason I should have to do another audio check rather than go back to a saved once I’m back in the office.
Giving credit where credit is due, I will say that #4 on the 2009 list was fulfilled. We now have separate controls for buttons and menus. I can say whatever’s on a button – like “yes” or “no”, and at the same time set Dragon to require longer names for menu items, so I can say “File Menu” rather than just File because menu items are often active when I’m writing text. Thanks for that.
We still have a ways to go, however. Here’s hoping for a good year in 2014.