One reason Cisco acquired Tropo was to bring in our expertise in building developer experiences that people love. Developer experience is more than just beautiful APIs, but extends to all the ways a developer interacts with the APIs and the company or product behind them. From documentation to billing to customer support, a good developer experience requires a conscious effort and doesn’t happen by accident.
I sat down with Beth Schultz, managing editor at No Jitter to talk about what makes for a good developer experience, why it can be hard for large enterprise software companies to create great APIs, and how Tropo is shaping Cisco’s API strategy.
If you’re evaluating a traditional communications product, you can pour over data sheets and find all sorts of information on what the product does and how to use it. You can usually even get access to it and give it a trial run. “But the APIs are often hidden behind NDAs, and you have to talk to a salesperson or somebody in support who has the magic access to give you a key to use the API. Then you might get a PDF document that is hard to read, hard to follow, and often written, created, and managed by engineers, rather than by people who have a [focus on] user experience,” Kalsey said.
When you think about the API from the entire ecosystem, you then consider questions such as: How is it going to fit in with the rest of the products? How is it going to fit in with the rest of the APIs the company develops? How are you going to support it? What is it going to look like?
“So just like you have somebody focused on user experience, you need to have somebody focused on what the developer experience is — and that’s everything from how the APIs look and feel to making sure there’s consistency between them.”
Go read the whole article, and come chat developer experience with us at one of our upcoming events.
To make sure our customers always have the highest quality speech recognition and text to speech, Tropo continuously evaluates speech vendors, tweaking our languages here and there. Today, we’re doing more than just a tweak and releasing our largest update of languages in four years.
Tropo now speaks 80 different languages and dialects, offering 90 unique male and female voices across 46 languages for text to speech, and performing speech recognition in 74 languages and regional accents. These new speech recognition languages include a variety of Asian languages.
As part of the change, we’ve retired some voices that weren’t often used, and some where we were able to get a better quality voice in the same language. You don’t need to worry about your applications, though, since we’ve made sure all the old voice names still work, playing their better sounding replacements instead.
The new voices and languages are available today in the free developer environment, so you can test them out and check your applications with the new speech. In the next few weeks, we’ll launch the upgraded voices into our production servers as well. We urge you to test your applications and the various voices to make sure you’re using the best possible voice for your application.
Just four hours after having seen the Tropo API documentation, Built.io had integrated their Flow product with Tropo.
Using Built.io Flow’s simple drag-and-drop tools, developer and non-developers alike can create powerful enterprise workflows that tap into the capabilities provided by services and APIs like Tropo. Create integrations between different services without writing a line of code. For example, when a Wufoo web form is filled out, insert a record into Salesforce, create a Trello task to follow up, and insert an appointment on your Google Calendar to call the new customer. All created by dragging lines between icons. They even offer an enterprise gateway that allows integrations with services behind the firewall.
At the Integrate conference in Santa Clara a couple of weeks ago, the Built.io booth was right across from Tropo’s. We pointed out the benefits to adding real-time communications with Tropo to their workflows. They agreed, and to our surprise, showed up the next morning to show us a workflow that featured Tropo text messages and voice. Tropo was added to the searchable “activity” library in Flow, allowing users to incorporate Tropo into any workflow by dragging it on the Built.io Flow canvas and connecting it using the visual workflow designer. Workflows can even have complex logic like loops, conditionals, and other control flows.
We sat down with Nishant Patel, CTO of Built.io to find out how they added Tropo. “Using Topo’s APIs was incredibly straightforward,” he said. “The API itself was very intuitive for our engineers to analyze and the documentation was superb. We had the Tropo team on standby because we wanted to push this live and make it available at our booth while still at the show. In the end, we didn’t need any help at all and it only took about an hour to build this.”
An hour? We’d planned on helping out Built.io build the integration, but Nishant explained that they looked at the API docs and saw how easy Tropo was to use and how useful it would be. “With the addition of Tropo activities to Built.io Flow’s library, our customers can now incorporate sending a text message and making a phone call into any workflow they desire.”
Nishant and his engineers created a Tropo activity in an hour, had it tested an hour after that, and put into production that night. On day two of Integrate, they were featuring the Tropo activity in their demo booth.
Tropo customers often ask us how to more easily build integrations with other applications and services. Whether it’s because their developers are busy, their outsourced engineering staff is too expensive or backed up, or they just want to allow business users to create simple applications without having to rely on their IT staff. Built.io Flow allows business users with limited programing expertise to create complex workflows that mash up dozens of web services.