4–7 Nov 2019
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Voice-driven development: Who needs a keyboard anyway?

Emily Shea (Fastly)
14:2015:00 Thursday, 7 November 2019
Location: Hall A6
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 2 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Software and computer developers or engineers who might find themselves unable to use a keyboard, anyone curious about exploring new ways of interacting with a computer, anyone writing software for people using different input methods, and anyone interested in learning what it’s like writing code by voice in 2019




Keyboards are the way almost all developers program computers, but this also means that being unable to use a keyboard for extended periods of time can seem like a career-ending limitation. Emily Shea faced that challenge a year ago, where every productive day felt like a step back for her health due to RSI. In what she thought to be a futile, last-ditch effort at saving her career, she turned to speech recognition as a way to develop software. Not only has she been able to get back to pain-free productivity, but she found voice-driven development to be enjoyable, efficient, and a source of renewed excitement toward programming.

Speech recognition isn’t exactly known in software development circles as a workable approach to programming, but it’s better than you (probably) think. Far from imposing a tedious workflow with a specialized set of commands, speech can enable flexibility and optimizations that are difficult to achieve with a keyboard and doesn’t get in the way when adapting to new technologies, tools, or languages.

Emily’s practical, demo-driven showcase presents the approach and tools that allowed her to continue her career. She dives into her real-world experience with speech-related topics like disambiguating homophones on the fly and teaching the voice engine new technical vocabulary. Beyond technical aspects, she divulges her experience guiding a team to support this working style and the challenges to adding a microphone into an open office environment.

Speech not only removes the compromise between health and career when an injury is present, but also augments and improves the workflow for a wider audience.

What you'll learn

  • Discover how to develop software using speech recognition from both technical and cultural perspectives
  • Revisit any prior impressions of speech recognition in a programming context
Photo of Emily Shea

Emily Shea


Emily is a Senior Software Engineer at Fastly, where she works on the platform for delivering core CDN configurations and develops in Perl using speech recognition. In a past life, she worked in HR at mobile gaming companies. Emily holds a BA in Architecture from UC Berkeley, and in her spare time likes to hang out in parks with her dog, named Chicken.

  • Oracle Cloud Infrastructure
  • Cloudflare
  • JFrog
  • Akamas
  • Aqua Security Software
  • Fastly
  • Google
  • Instana
  • JetBrains
  • LaunchDarkly
  • LightStep
  • OVHcloud
  • SignalFx
  • VictorOps
  • Wayfair
  • Blameless
  • Chronosphere
  • FusionReactor
  • humanitec
  • replex GmbH
  • StackState
  • Datadog
  • GitLab
  • Gremlin
  • StormForger
  • SysEleven GmgH
  • Vamp.io

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