Salt Lake Software Symposium

May 3 - 4, 2019

The talking app: Voice-enabling Spring Applications

Friday - May 3 4:45 PM - MILLCREEK

Craig Walls

Craig Walls

Author of Spring in Action

In this example-driven presentation, you will learn how to enable Spring applications for voice interaction through Alexa and Google Assistant. We'll look at three distinct options for voice-enabling Spring, including using Spring Cloud Function for voice request fulfillment, account-linking a conventional Alexa Skill and/or Google Action with Spring Security and OAuth2, or using Spring MVC/WebFlux for direct handling of voice requests.

The way we communicate with our applications is an ever-evolving experience. Punch cards gave way to keyboards. Typing on keyboards was then supplemented by pointing and clicking with a mouse. And touch screens on our phones, tablets, and computers are now a common means of communicating with applications.

These all lack one thing, however: They aren’t natural.

As humans, we often communicate with each other through speech. If you were to walk up to another human and start tapping them, you’d likely be tapped (or punched) in response. But when we talk to our applications, we communicate on the machine’s terms, with keyboards, mice, and touch screens. Even though we may use these same devices to communicate with other humans, it’s really the machine we are communicating with—​and those machines relay what we type, click, and tap to another human using a similar device.

Voice user-interfaces (Voice UIs) enable us to communicate with our application in a human way. They give our applications the means to communicate to us on our terms, using voice. With a voice UI, we can converse with our applications in much the same way we might talk with our friends.

Voice UIs are truly the next logical step in the evolution of human-computer interaction. And this evolutionary step is long overdue. For as long as most of us can remember, science fiction has promised us the ability to talk to our computers. The robot from Lost in Space, the Enterprise computer on Star Trek, Iron Man’s Jarvis, and HAL 9000 (okay, maybe a bad example) are just a few well-recognized examples of science fiction promising a future where humans and computers would talk to each other.

As voice user-interfaces become more prevalent, it stands to reason that voice applications wouldn't necessarily be standalone, self-contained application, but rather would be extensions of existing and newly developed applications. Since Spring is the foundation of so many applications developed today, it only makes sense to voice-enable Spring applications.

About Craig Walls

Craig Walls is a principal engineer with Pivotal and is the author of Spring in Action and Spring Boot in Action. He's a zealous promoter of the Spring Framework, speaking frequently at local user groups and conferences and writing about Spring. When he's not slinging code, Craig is planning his next trip to Disney World or Disneyland and spending as much time as he can with his wife, two daughters, 2 birds and 3 dogs.