I’m joining the hype of presenting little new projects there seems to be those days, unleashing the first version of espeak-gui, a graphical interface to let the computer read out text.

Why, when, who?

The project started almost a year ago when, out of curiosity on what writing Python bindings for C/C++ libraries is like, I started python-espeak, bindings for the espeak speech synthesizer (which, by the way, comes installed by default on Ubuntu and many other distributions).

It turned out that writing bindings isn’t as funny as I thought so they haven’t advanced much since then, but the basic functionality was there and I felt the need for some application using those bindings, so that’s how I started espeak-gui.

Some months later, in true Free Software spirit, someone else -interested in an application like this for personal usage- found my code on Launchpad and got in touch with me, providing me with quite some nice patches. Thank you, Joe Burmeister! However, I didn’t do any more work on it, as I’ve been busy with other projects (eg. Zeitgeist), and development stalled there.

Now, another half a year later, I’ve finally got back to this and decided it’s time I push it out into the wild. So, after cleaning it up a bit more and implementing some new feature, here you have espeak-gui!

(The bindings aren’t really encouraged for widespread usage at this point and I’ll probably end up rewriting them using SWIG or something else; however, if you’re interested in using them please get in touch with me).

Where do I get it?

If you’re using Ubuntu or Debian, you can find a packages for python-espeak and espeak-gui in my PPA.

For users of other distributions, you can install them manually after installing the needed dependencies (most importantly, libespeak-dev).

For the Python bindings for espeak:

$ bzr get lp:python-espeak
$ cd python-espeak
$ python setup.py build
# python setup.py install

And for the GUI:

$ wget -c http://launchpad.net/espeak-gui/trunk/0.1/+download/espeak-gui-0.1.tar.gz
$ tar -xzvf espeak-gui-0.1.tar.gz
$ cd espeak-gui-0.1
# python setup.py install

[Update: A new version is out, see espeak-gui 0.2 for details.]

I have several ideas on how to continue improving it and I think I’ll slowly continue doing so (or maybe not so slowly if I get positive feedback on this :)). Also, patches are always welcome!

Using it

Once installed, you’ll find espeak-gui under Applications -> Sound and Video (maybe Accessibility would be a better place?), or you can run it from the command line like this:

espeak [ <file 1> <file 2> ... ]