Dragon 11 Premium review: mostly improved

I hadn’t been writing about speech recognition lately because my assistive technology budget, as well as my spare time, had to address mobility and ways to rest my voice. However, as I’ve said, gift cards are wonderful things. They paid partially for Dragon 11 Premium. It was a good use of cards; the improvements make it mostly more efficient in general, but I can see it being more so for people who find creating your own commands too daunting.

Note: I’m going to mention the positives first. There are bugs/negatives, which I will mention briefly, but I want to address them separately so that I can post fixes. Otherwise this would be a very long post.

Word processing

For word processing, Dragon 11 extends its link numbering system to words. If you say, for example, “Correct <word>” and there are multiple instances of the word, green number flags will appear, and you say the number of the one you want. If Dragon misunderstands your command, you can get rid of the flags by saying “cancel.” As always, the full range of Quick Formatting commands only applies to Microsoft Word (“Italicize <word>”, etc.)

I haven’t spent much time trying to use Dragon with OpenOffice since I don’t use OpenOffice, but from what I got, only dictation is fully accessible. If you want to access the menus, you have to say the keyboard shortcut. Dragon’s compatibility with Jarte remains good with both menus and dictation, and I’m pleased that the numbering applies to word selection if not formatting. And Jarte Plus users can create buttons that execute various commands when spoken.

Bug: In some instances, “backspace” doesn’t work properly and leaves characters behind.

Navigation

It took a few years, but Nuance has made navigation a hell of a lot easier, which means that navigating not-quite-accessible programs is likewise easier. You can not only “Go <direction> <number>,” but also “Tab <number>” and “Backtab <number>” and “Backspace <number>.” This makes faster access to buttons and fields for Firefox users, especially tabfocus users. There is also a “List all windows” command, whereby you choose the number of the window you want instead of “Switch to <potentially long window name>.” You can still use the latter, though, as well as “Press Alt Tab” and “Press Alt Escape.” Between those two, many of my Vocola navigation commands became redundant. You can also “Show Task Manager” and “Show Control Panel.” (More redundant Vocola commands.)

Mouse

The most notable change to the mouse movement commands in Dragon 11 is that they are no longer continuous. That is, in previous versions you could say “Mouse move lower right… Down,” for example, and the mouse cursor would change direction quickly. However, in version 11, you have to say “Mouse move <direction>” each time you want to change direction. This might affect drawing or gaming, for example, depending.

Another change to the mouse commands is that Nuance did notice the missing code for the middle click command. Rather than add the code, they got rid of the command altogether. However, if you want to auto scroll, you can do that in applicable programs by saying “Start/stop scrolling up/down” and “Scroll faster/slower.” Be aware, however, that a default speed is set.

Browsing and Firefox

Dragon 11 makes a very welcome change to its Web search commands. Now, when you want to say “search <website> for <word>”, you have the option of displaying the correction window before the command is executed in order to make sure Dragon understood you. If the registered word is incorrect, you can correct it, and Dragon will search for the proper term.

To fully access Firefox, you will still need to make use of add-ons or about:config settings. It is still advisable to use the dictation box or word processor copying and pasting for long text fields.

I haven’t mentioned everything here, but I tried to hit the high points. The following posts will be fixes for some things I mentioned here. All in all, Dragon 11 is a worthy program.

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3 Responses to Dragon 11 Premium review: mostly improved

  1. Manish Makwana says:

    Hello, i just discovered your blog and am trawling through it looking for interesting articles 🙂 Your review of DNS 11 details the changes, but not necessarily the usefulness of the program as a whole (particularly in terms of comparison to Windows 7 Speech Recognition). Do you have other articles that address this? I can’t seem to find much using the search tool.

    I’m quite keen on getting heavily into scripting and automating a lot of computer tasks for voice control (am an engineering student so the technical challenge isn’t too daunting) using the likes of AutoHotKey, Vocola and either WSR or DNS. At the moment I’m trying to get a feel for available software and useful development tools etc. It’s frustrating finding so many promising academic and commercial projects that seem to have been abandoned, like the CSLU toolkit, or Proteus, or e-speaking. To mention just a few I recently found.

    Are you able to compute entirely through speech/verbal commands?

  2. hand2mouth says:

    I can’t compare WSR to Dragon because I only have WSR at work, where there’s too much background noise and back and forth talking to be able to use any speech recognition much. My quick assessment was that Dragon could control a lot more out of the box than could WSR — Dragon has more commands built in and it seems easier to force Dragon to interact somewhat with noncompliant programs. (However, if you’re interested in Vocola and AutoHotkey, you could likely make WSR do what you wanted.) Also, it seems like Dragon makes it a bit easier for you to see what’s going on with your voice profile.

    I suppose I didn’t detail the usefulness of Dragon straight out because I took for granted that, if you have no choice but to use it and it’s one of the only things out there, then it’s useful. I depended on Dragon exclusively for quite a while, using it totally hand-free. No keyboard, no mouse. I still do, except for at work where I use a trackball and dwell click and an onscreen keyboard. Even with word prediction, though, the onscreen keyboard setup isn’t as efficient as Dragon. I’m trying to fix that with AutoHotkey and macros within the keyboard software itself, but still.

    What difficulties I’ve had with Dragon have mainly come down to my own body: if I’m fatigued or sick it has trouble understanding me, which makes it tedious sometimes. But the “don’t recognize that word” command in the correction box helps with that; the fewer extraneous words, the potentially fewer mistakes. I’ve been able to fix some program incompatibilities with Vocola or inbuilt settings, for example about:config in Firefox.

    I hope that helped somewhat. I will try to put together a comprehensive Dragon post. (I tend to leave some of the details up to the website links, so that I’m not just repeating things found elsewhere.) I did leave a comment on the Tab Utilities post, in the meantime, that goes into at least a little more detail.

    For comparisons of WSR and DNS, you could try Speech Computing or Know Brainer.

  3. Manish makwana says:

    Thanks, thats really helpful 🙂 I think i’ll dive into DNS and see how that goes – will let you know how i find it.

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