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The Insider's Guide to Dragon NaturallySpeaking by Joel Gould
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Intro To NatSpeak

Last Modified: October 14, 2000

(Note: I have written two different introductions to NatLink, this topic is written for Python users who want to know what this Dragon NaturallySpeaking stuff is all about. The previous topic is written for NatSpeak users who want to know what this Python thing is all about.)

What is Dragon NaturallySpeaking?

Dragon NaturallySpeaking (NatSpeak) is the world's first and best* large vocabulary, general purpose, speech recognition systems. (* This is not just a personal opinion, most major computer magazines also agree that Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the best.)

Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a software program which converts speech into text. When using NatSpeak, you can talk into a microphone attached to your computer and NatSpeak will type whatever you say into a word processor or other application.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking allows you to create documents, e-mail, and other text documents by voice instead of typing. NatSpeak also allows you to format text by voice and even control certain aspects of your computer by speaking commands instead of using the keyboard or mouse.

As shipped, Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a complete solution. You can use it to create documents and e-mails. You can also use it to edit your documents and control some aspects of your computer by voice. Using speech recognition to edit text and/or control your computer is called "command and control" to distinguish it from generating text, which is called "dictation".

Dragon NaturallySpeaking comes in a variety of versions (see What Versions of NatSpeak are Available?) Every version includes both dictation and command and control but the Professional Edition also allows users to create their own speech macros. This means that users can decide what words or phrases that NatSpeak should listen for and what action to take when those words are phrases are recognized.

What is NatLink?

NatLink is a C++ program which extends the Python programming language so you can access and control Dragon NaturallySpeaking directly from Python. NatLink is also a Dragon NaturallySpeaking compatibility module. This means that users of NatLink can create speech macros written in Python in addition to the native (and limited) programming language which ships with Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

If you are a Python program then NatLink will allow you to add speech recognition to your Python programs. NatLink will also allow you to write scripts in Python to control Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Finally, NatLink will allow you to write speech macros for Dragon NaturallySpeaking in Python.

With NatLink, you can:

  • Create grammars telling Dragon NaturallySpeaking what to listen for and get callbacks when speech matching your grammar is recognized.
  • Access some of the functionality of Dragon NaturallySpeaking from Python including sending keystrokes to other applications, controlling the microphone, creating new NatSpeak users, cause Dragon NaturallySpeaking to recognize speech from a file or from text, etc.

With NatLink, I have successfully created a simple Python GUI program (using the Mark Hammond's win32 extensions) which can take speech input as well as mouse and keyboard input. I have also written some sample scripts in Python to do things like create new speech profiles in Dragon NaturallySpeaking from arbitrary recordings.

There are also sample scripts which are macro files, designed to be automatically loaded by Dragon NaturallySpeaking when Dragon NaturallySpeaking starts. These macro files extend the functionality of NatSpeak by introducing new speech commands.

In the tradition of Python, I make NatLink freely available to all. I have even included the source code in the distribution. See NatLink Copyright for more details.

This web page ( was last modified on October 14, 2000. The contents of this page are (c) Copyright 1998-1999 by Joel Gould. All Rights Reserved. See Copyright Information for more details.

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