Lotus Development Corp has been previewing Phone Notes, an audio version of its Notes groupware enabling software, and says it will be available early next year. Phone Notes combines Notes with open Interactive Voice Response technology to enable new applications to be written in Notes and existing applications made accessible to Notes users via the telephone. It will be possible to create voice response applications by completing Notes forms, without the need to learn a computer language, the company says. The development language is defined by 17 commands, such as Play, Record Voice, and Forward Document. Examples of new application solutions include customer support help desks, personnel benefit enrollment or information hot-lines, corporate time reporting and patient information systems. Users of telephone-based Notes applications will be able to use a touch-tone telephone to log in to Notes databases, create new documents, embed spoken messages in a document, and play back information such as spoken or synthesised text-to-speech mail messages. The Notes forms and views define how the application will work, include all of the spoken prompts, and are stored in the Notes database. After designing the application, developers install the Phone Notes Application Programming Interface to connect with an Interactive Voice Response engine server connected to a voice server and telephone hardware. Lotus is seeking partnerships with telephony engine providers, as well as voice board suppliers. Lotus developed the thing with Simpact Associates Inc, San Diego, which specialises in telephony and voice server markets. Simpact will be the first provider of a Notes voice and telephony server, which will include text-to-speech conversion capabilities. Natural Microsystems Inc of Natick, Massachusetts also helped out, and will offer the first personal computer-based telephony hardware to work with Phone Notes. Phone Notes should ship in the first half 1994.