Tuesday Nov 10, 2009

"OpenOffice.org can speak in up to 27 languages"

Yesterday Vincent Spiewak announced the availability of the odt2daisy add-on to OpenOffice.org that will create full DAISY talking books for the blind and others with print impairments. Combined with the free and multi-platform OpenOffice.org office suite, the odt2daisy add-on enables for the first time completely free creation of digital audio talking books for the blind and print impaired - in both DAISY 3.0, and ANSI/NISO Z39.86 formats. As both OpenOffice.org and odt2daisy are multi-platform running on Windows, Macintosh, Solaris/OpenSolaris, and GNU/Linux systems, this further means that virtually any desktop computer user can utilize these tools (and when combined with OpenSolaris or GNU/Linux, the entire software stack is free).

When combined with the open source, cross-platform eSpeak text-to-speech engine, OpenOffice.org and odt2daisy can generate talking books in 27 different languages - including creating multi-lingual talking books where different portions of the document are pronounced correctly in the language they came from (see some of Vincent's screencasts to see how this is done -> simply mark the range of text as belong to a specific language in OpenOffice.org and odt2daisy will take care of the rest).

Finally, it is worth noting that this release of odt2daisy is one of the first shipping results of the AEGIS project, which recently wrapped up its first year of work.

Tuesday Sep 30, 2008

odt2dtbook, Vincent, and Dominique take gold

[This seems to be the month of medals - perhaps it has something to do with the recent Olympics in Beijing...]

I just heard that Vincent Spiewak and Dominique Archambault of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris have "taken the gold" for their work on the ODF to DAISY DTBook OpenOffice.org extension, as part of the Innovation in Open Source Community Award Program. As such, Dominique, Vincent, and the odf2dtbook project share part of the $1 million in Open Source Community award monies. Congratulations Vincent & Dominique!

I encourage you to listen to an interview with Sun's Simon Phipps and several of the award winners (including Dominique and Vincent). Also worth checking out is a video showing how to use odt2dtbook to create DTBooks from within OpenOffice.org.

Regular readers may recall that I first mentioned this work last May, just a few days after Vincent posted the extension on the new OpenOffice.org extensions website. Since then the various versions have been downloaded thousands of times, enabling many many people to publish DAISY books without having to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on proprietary authoring environments. Truly a worthy project!

Thursday May 29, 2008

OpenOffice.org plug-in for creation of DAISY books

When we formed the OASIS OpenDocument Format Accessibility Subcommittee and reviewed ODF v1.0 for accessibility concerns, one of the things we thought about was the creation of DAISY books - the suitability of ODF to be the source format for digital talking books for people with print impairments. While most of the 9 recommendations we made for accessibility improvements (all incorporated into ODF v1.1) were of use to DAISY book creation, there was one in particular that had no other purpose save for DAISY: noting the page number whenever pagination occurs (whether or not a visible page number is displayed in the document) so that DAISY book users in a setting with users of printed books could know the printed book page number.

While the OASIS OpenDocument Format Accessibility Subcommittee concerns itself only with file format issues, we all of us on the subcommittee recognize how important it is that applications make use of the accessibility features in ODF (else they would be only of academic interest). To that end we published the OASIS ODF Accessibility Guidelines. Also to that end, one of the subcommittee members (Dave Pawson, then of the Royal National Institute of the Blind) contributed code to the DAISY Pipeline project back in April 2007 to support ODF as a source for DAISY books.

Today I'm delighted to report on the early availability of an ODT to DAISY DTBook plugin to OpenOffice.org (one of the over 100 extensions now available for OpenOffice.org). This open source project - using the GPL v3 license - is a cross-platform extension to OpenOffice.org written in Java that generates DAISY DTBook XML files - the penultimate stage in the DAISY process toward creating a (talking) DAISY book. While only at "version 0.0.4", it already supports an impressive list of tags, and includes a rich set of example documents illustrating a wide range of document scenarios (including addresses, lists, tables, nested tables, and mathematics). This OpenOffice.org extension is being developed by Computer Science Masters student Vincent Spiewak and his professor Dominique Archambault of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris. It has just been featured in the May issue of The DAISY Planet, and since it was made available 6 days ago, has been download more than 150 times.

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Peter Korn

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