State of the Rebellion – Mycroft @ 19.02
Twice a year Mycroft releases major versions – in February and August. These are labeled by the year name and the month, so this release is known as 19.02. Following each major release, we continue to produce incremental improvements every two weeks on top of the major version.
As a result of this iterative methodology and open development model, a major release is not packed with a bunch of surprise new features. Rather, it is a culmination of all the work performed and carefully released during the six months since the previous release.
Additionally, the Mycroft experience consists of far more than just the Core code. Skills, Community projects, skills created by individuals, and other efforts all add up to a much bigger picture. I’ll try to capture highlights of the last six months here.
Technically, all of the pieces that make up Mycroft are brought together by Mycroft Core. This framework allows technologies created by individuals and teams from around the world to work in harmony.
Spanning over 400 pull requests, major changes incorporated in 19.02 include:
The Mycroft GUI (Graphical User Interface)
Built on KDE Plasma technology, the Mycroft GUI allows voice interfaces and graphical interfaces to augment each other. A future blog post will go into deeper detail about this technology.
The Common frameworks: CommonPlay, CommonQ&A, CommonIOT
Nobody likes walled gardens. These frameworks allow Skills to work together to achieve what a user really wants when working with media, information retrieval, and smart devices.
Natural Language Processing tools
In addition to extending tools for parsing and formatting natural language, the tools have at least partial coverage in eight languages. This makes Mycroft one of the most powerful multilingual parsing libraries in the world.
Intent processing unification
Padatious and Adapt intent definitions can now be freely mixed and matched between and within skills.
Hundreds of other small changes and extensions
Including boot sequence/update simplification and more that make Mycroft more stable and easy to use.
Also, the 19.02.0 release is also our 101st successful bi-weekly release of mycroft-core!
Mimic Text To Speech Technology
Mimic lets Mycroft speak to you. We have built one of the only production-ready voice generation technology suites. Additions and updates in 19.02 include:
We’ve released a Recording Studio with all the tools for an individual to generate the recordings needed to build a voice in ANY language.
Tooling to support running Mimic2, GPU-intensive voices in a shared server environment.
Pronounce is a Community tool for teaching Mimic voices to sound better.
Natural Language happens in far more than just English. Enabling technology available to every speaker has long been a goal of the project, and huge leaps have been made.
This tool is empowering language communities to create their own voice assistant. Over a dozen languages have been fully translated, with nearly 50 languages underway.
Mimic and Mycroft frameworks
With full Unicode UTF-8 support, Mycroft is now ready to support virtually every language.
The Community is Mycroft’s not-so-secret weapon. Our dedication to a strong Community has long been part of every decision we make.
Beyond the original Skills Management Team (the official owner of the Mycroft Skills repo), we have added the following teams over the last few months:
Core Community Developers
These programmers have voice in the development of and full rights to edit Mycroft Core
Skill Tester Team
This team is Community members working to guarantee Skills work for everyone. If you’re interested, fill out this form!
Mimic Administration Team
Community management of the voices of Mycroft
United Skill Writers
A collective of some of the best and brightest Mycroft Skill developers, coming together to adopt critical Skills whose authors are no longer able to keep their Skill up to date.
The first exposure to Mycroft for tens of thousands has been Picroft – the pre-built image for running Mycroft on the Raspberry Pi. It was not ignored between 18.08 and now. Here are some highlights:
This update enables Picroft to work with the latest Pi 3+
New “wizard” setup
Now it is easy to get started no matter how you intend to use Mycroft
Support for AIY, Matrix Voice and other microphones
Quick and easy startup for popular mics, with more to come.
Even a voice agent can benefit from a web interface! There are big changes contained within the release that have either rolled out recently, or you’ll be seeing soon.
Exploring and installing Skills is now easy with a modern interface. Check out some new skills!
Our new Home
In a few days, a major overhaul of the Mycroft web will be released. It will be as shiny on the outside as it is under the hood.
Building on the original work of Jarbas, an official community project has launched to with the goal of providing the ultimate privacy guarantee – self-hosting.
Skills are what gives Mycroft its smarts. It just keeps getting better.
“Top 10” skills
The Mycroft AI team has been reviewing and reworking the most popular Skills used in voice assistants, making them more capable and easy to use.
Some of the coolest recent additions:
Theia on-device development/debugger
Emby music server
Bedtime Stories and Fairytalez
As always, the support of the Community is what keeps us going. Whether is it code for a new Skill or feature, financial support, assistance translating, or participation in Community Teams and initiatives or simply joining the discussion – every kind of support is valuable.
I want to give a special shout out to the KDE Plasma Team. Despite the ongoing challenges around the graphics hardware, their expertise has allowed us to produce a remarkably simple yet flexible and powerful graphical framework. Collaborating with them has been a pleasure and inspiration, and I look forward to a long relationship between our Communities!
Steve has been building cutting edge yet still highly usable technology for over 25 years, previously leading teams at Autodesk and the Rhythm Engineering. He now leads the development team at Mycroft as a partner and the CTO.