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Dictation with Windows Speech Recognition (WSR) works well for "WSR-friendly" applications like MS Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint. Dictated text is inserted directly into document text, and commands like "Delete hedgehog" can refer to specific document text. But WSR dictation works less well for "WSR-unfriendly" applications like MS Excel, Gmail, and most programming environments. Dictation is not inserted directly into document text, and commands cannot refer to document text.
Vocola improves this situation by supporting direct dictation for WSR-unfriendly applications, and by allowing correction and modification of the just-dictated phrase. Vocola and WSR use the same underlying speech profile, so any improvements you make via training, correction, or the speech dictionary benefit WSR dictation and Vocola dictation equally.
Dictation to WSR-unfriendly applications is essentially unusable in Vista, as every utterance raises the correction panel.
To use Vocola dictation in Vista you must turn off the WSR option to "Enable Dictation Everywhere". (Right-click the WSR tray icon and find it in the "Options" menu.)
Windows 7 improved matters greatly with its "Dictation Scratchpad"; your dictation appears in a popup window with full support for correcting and modifying text, and when you're happy with the results you speak a command to insert it. Compared with Vocola dictation, each has its advantages. The scratchpad's main advantage is that its text is fully WSR-enabled for selection and correction. Vocola dictation's main advantage is that you dictate and correct text in-line with your document's text rather than in a separate window. And Vocola's built-in dictation commands allow you to modify dictated text in most of the same ways as with WSR dictation.
To use Vocola dictation in Windows 7 you must choose "Enable Vocola dictation" in the Vocola Options Panel.
Note however that Vocola has no knowledge of a document's text or insertion point. Correction and modification commands are limited to the just-dictated phrase, and WSR commands like "Select Massachusetts" which refer to a document's text do not work. Still, the ability to correct and modify the just-dictated phrase goes a long way. Vocola provides built-in dictation commands for this purpose, or you can write your own using the Dictation class in the function library.
Note also that Vocola modifies the just-dictated phrase by first sending enough "backspace" keystrokes to remove it, so modification will not work correctly if the insertion point moves from the end of the just-dictated phrase. To be conservative, any voice command action disables modification of the just-dictated phrase unless that action is known not to affect the insertion point. On the other hand, moving the insertion point via the keyboard or mouse does not disable modification, so be careful.
With Vocola you can also create dictation shortcuts, allowing you to speak a particular word or phrase while dictating and have a different word or phrase inserted. Dictation shortcuts work in both WSR dictation and Vocola dictation.
You may sometimes want to disable dictation for a particular application or window. For example, some application windows interpret a typed letter as a command rather than as a keystroke to insert. Disabling dictation in such a window can prevent unwanted mistakes. See the library function Dictation.DisableForWindow for an example.