Devlab by AT&T – Event Recap
DevLab by AT&T was held on Thursday, June 20, at the World Trade Center, located on Seattle’s beautiful waterfront. We had 35 people at the event to learn about the AT&T messaging and speech APIs. But with views like this it is amazing anyone got anything done!
The day started off at 9:00 a.m. with Michael Pacholec, Director, Developer and Platform Evangelism, describing the AT&T Developer Program and the API Platform. He then walked people through the process of signing up for the API Platform and getting the app keys and secrets they would need for the lab exercises that followed.
After Michael got the audience prepped and pumped, the real fun began. Richard Harrington, an architect and guru with the messaging team, jumped right in. Richard explained the three different authorization methods and when they are used – a critical prerequisite, for without the OAuth tokens you cannot use any of the AT&T APIs.
A quick demonstration and then the crowd was let loose to retrieve their own client credential access tokens.
The purpose of DevLab was not to walk away having created an app, but to go through a number of lab exercises, each of which would guide you through the process of accomplishing a single task, whether it be sending a simple SMS message or using the AT&T Watsonsm speech engine to convert text to speech. Sometimes the most difficult task in using an API is the one that seems most simple, so understanding the intricacies of the APIs and then using them to get a result were the goals of DevLab. The attendees did this with step-by-step instructions and hands-on examples.
Armed with their own authorization tokens the attendees were ready to actually “make stuff happen.” After a short break Richard launched into a series of messaging lab exercises: sending an SMS message via a short code, sending an SMS message so that it appeared to come from an actual phone number (In App Messaging from a Mobile Number), getting text messages with SMS, and sending an image using MMS. With the AT&T SMEs walking around and providing expert guidance, the attendees walked through the exercises.
Seattle is known for a lot of things, but goats are not one of them. Nonetheless, during lunch folks could go out on the balcony and watch a herd of them munching away on the invasive Himalayan blackberries. We are pretty sure that Andrea Morton, the event coordinator extraordinaire who found such an amazing venue, arranged to get those goats there, though she vehemently denies it. Still, goats in Seattle…you decide for yourself.
With lunch and goat watching over, Jeff Callegari, a Principle Technical Architect with the speech team, launched into a Puccini aria.
Ok, so maybe he was just describing the capabilities of AT&T’s speech APIs in his inimitable, theatrical way. Whichever one, he kept the audience’s rapt attention.
The Watson speech engine, born in AT&T’s famed labs, has been around for 20 years. To help everyone understand how they could unleash its power, Jeff walked through insightful presentations followed by labs demonstrating the APIs he had just introduced: basic speech to text, speech to text with custom grammar, text to speech, speech to text with prefix grammar, and speech to text with alternate grammar. Through these exercises the attendees learned not only how to use the simple speech capabilities but also how to set up custom grammar files, used when the words that need transcribing are uncommon or industry-specific, like medical terminology.
A long day of hard work should be rewarded, and so it was. The training over, it was time to relax.
Throughout the year AT&T will be holding a series of DevLabs on different topics and in different cities. The thing you can count on is some top-notch training and a good time by all. And maybe an occasional goat visit.
Keep your eye out for details of upcoming DevLabs. They’re a great way to stay ahead of the technology curve, and to talk to people who “get” your world.
For more photos of the Seattle DevLab go to the AT&T Developer Program Facebook page.