Chapter 14: Incorporating Animated Agents into Your Programs

Visual Studio 6.0

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  • An overview of Microsoft Agent

  • Microsoft Agent software installation

  • The MSAgent control

  • Speech recognition programming

  • Animated game development

One of the features introduced with Microsoft Office 97 was the Office Assistant, a cute little animation designed to help users get the most out of the application. Some users think that this is entertaining; others find it infuriating. But no matter how you feel about animated paper clips and scratch paper cats, tools like the Office Assistant are here to stay.

Creating your own Office Assistant-like characters can be a difficult task; however, Microsoft has made it easier with a new technology called Microsoft Agent. This technology allows you to incorporate Office Assistant-like characters into your own programs.

An Agent is a character that, when active, will always overlay everything on the screen. It can speak through the use of the text-to-speech engine, by displaying text in a little balloon like a cartoon character, or both. It can also respond to spoken commands under your program’s control. A menu with the commands can be used if a microphone is not available.

Microsoft Agent is not a standard part of Visual Basic, but it is included on your Visual Basic CD-ROM. Look on your CD-ROM for the directory \Common\ Tools\VB\MSAgent for the files.

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