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Re: ibm tts run-time engine purchasing alternatives

Phil's Free writes:
 > Gary Lawrence Murphy a écrit :
 > >>>>>>"J" == John G Heim <jheim@wisc.edu> writes:
 > > 
 > > 
 > >     J> ... when you think about it, the vast majority of people are
 > >     J> going to expect to get a package that they can just install
 > >     J> with a single command or two. 
 > > 
 > > When you actually think about it, this is not true.  As Bucky Fuller
 > > once said "Design a system that even a fool can use, and only fools
 > > will use it" :)
 > > 
 > > The first demonstrable factual truth is there are many people today
 > > using emacspeak and speakup, and _neither_ system is installed with a
 > > single command or two.  Millions of people use Windows, and it is a
 > > nightmare to install.
 > > 
 > > The second demonstrable factual truth is there are many people today
 > > willing to put real money on the table for the ViaVoice runtime for
 > > Linux, not a plug and play system, just the shared libraries compiled
 > > against a glib from /this/ millenium.  No push-buttons, no hand-holding
 > > 1-800 numbers, no everything to everybody software that no one will
 > > ever use.  Just the runtime.  That's it.  Anything more and we'd be
 > > spending the next month of midnight oil desperately trying to /extract/
 > > the ViaVoice runtime libs from the otherwise useless package so we
 > > can graft it into the software we actually want to use.
 > > 
 > > I'm with Robert on this: the first company that will actually /sell/ me
 > > the useful ViaVoice runtime kit will get my money.
 > > 
 > > This is kinda frustrating.  
 > > 
 > > My friend Paul has been without his emacspeak machine since _last_
 > > spring because we blew a capacitor in the powersupply and fried his
 > > hard drive, and I've been unable to duplicate the old machine under
 > > modern Linux distros.  I tried every published trick to bootstrap the
 > > old VV libs.  FLite kept crashing, Java synth jabbers jibberish. We
 > > tried speakup, it drove him nuts.  We tried every existing free
 > > softsynth, none worked. We bought the saccent, it sucked.  We're
 > > stalled.
 > As long as ViaVoice code is not open source, Paul's nightmare will occur 
 > again one day or the other.

Well then he had better get use to it. ViaVoice is very very unlikely
to ever be made open source. It is a commercial product and will
remain so - IBM has even outsourced its retail to third parties. 

However, I cannot see how Paul's issues have anything to do with open
source. I suspect the real issue is trying to get a good quality TTS
engine which is free. One of the problems I see more and more often is
people expecting they should be able to get almost any software
functionality for free. However, this is just not the case and very
unlikely to occur for packages such as TTS engines which take
considerable development time to create and for which those doing the
development want to have the right to protect their hard work.
Personally, I think its great when people release their code as open
source, but at the same time, its wrong to expect it should be done
that way. 

I've used at least 3 differenct commercial TTS engines under Linux.
All of them are fairly good quality (certainly better than the
available open source ones at this time). the bottom line is, if you
want a good quality commercial grade TTS engine, you have to pay for
it. At the low end, you have the Software Dectalk and Cepstral for
under $100 and at the other end, IBM ViaVoice and AT&T Natural voice
for around $300 for the full SDK (which includes the runtime
environment in a seperate package). Whether you feel the cost is
warranted depends on how much you value having the high quality TTS. 


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