2.0.1 • Public • Published


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    A button to start speech recognition using Web Speech API, with an easy to understand event lifecycle.

    Breaking changes

    [2.0.0] - 2021-05-15

    • Requires react@>=16.8.0 and core-js@3
    • Modifying props while recognition has started will no longer abort recognition immediately, props will be updated in next recognition
    • SpeechGrammarList is only constructed when grammar props is present
    • If speechRecognition prop is not present, capability detection is now done through window.mediaDevices.getUserMedia


    Try out this component at


    Reasons why we need to build our own component, instead of using existing packages on NPM:

    How to use

    First, install our production version by npm install react-dictate-button. Or our development version by npm install react-dictate-button@master.

    import DictateButton from 'react-dictate-button';
    export default () => (
        grammar="#JSGF V1.0; grammar districts; public <district> = Tuen Mun | Yuen Long;"


    Name Type Default Description
    className string undefined Class name to apply to the button
    disabled boolean false true to abort ongoing recognition and disable the button, otherwise, false
    extra { [key: string]: any } {} Additional properties to set to SpeechRecognition before start, useful when bringing your own SpeechRecognition
    grammar string undefined Grammar list in JSGF format
    lang string undefined Language to recognize, for example, 'en-US' or navigator.language
    speechGrammarList any window.SpeechGrammarList (or vendor-prefixed) Bring your own SpeechGrammarList
    speechRecognition any window.SpeechRecognition (or vendor-prefixed) Bring your own SpeechRecognition

    Note: change of extra, grammar, lang, speechGrammarList, and speechRecognition will not take effect until next speech recognition is started.


    Name Signature Description
    (event: MouseEvent) => void
    Emit when the user click on the button, preventDefault will stop recognition from starting
      result: {
        confidence: number,
        transcript: number
      type: 'dictate'
    }) => void
    Emit when recognition is completed
    (event: SpeechRecognitionErrorEvent) => void
    Emit when error has occurred or recognition is interrupted, see below
      abortable: boolean,
      results: [{
        confidence: number,
        transcript: number
      type: 'progress'
    }) => void
    Emit for interim results, the array contains every segments of recognized text
    (event: SpeechRecognitionEvent) => void
    Emit for handling raw events from SpeechRecognition


    Although previous versions exported a React Context, it is recommended to use the hooks interface.

    Name Signature Description
    useAbortable [boolean] If ongoing speech recognition can be aborted, true, otherwise, false
    useReadyState [number] Returns the current state of recognition, refer to this section
    useSupported [boolean] If speech recognition is supported, true, otherwise, false

    Checks if speech recognition is supported

    To determines whether speech recognition is supported in the browser:

    • If speechRecognition prop is undefined
    • Otherwise, it is supported

    Even the browser is on an insecure HTTP connection, window.SpeechRecognition (or vendor-prefixed) will continue to be truthy. Instead, mediaDevices.getUserMedia is used for capability detection.

    Event lifecycle

    One of the design aspect is to make sure events are easy to understand and deterministic. First rule of thumb is to make sure onProgress will lead to either onDictate or onError. Here are some samples of event firing sequence (tested on Chrome 67):

    • Happy path: speech is recognized
      1. onProgress({}) (just started, therefore, no results)
      2. onProgress({ results: [] })
      3. onDictate({ result: ... })
    • Heard some sound, but nothing can be recognized
      1. onProgress({})
      2. onDictate({}) (nothing is recognized, therefore, no result)
    • Nothing is heard (audio device available but muted)
      1. onProgress({})
      2. onError({ error: 'no-speech' })
    • Recognition aborted
      1. onProgress({})
      2. onProgress({ results: [] })
      3. While speech is getting recognized, set props.disabled to false, abort recognition
      4. onError({ error: 'aborted' })
    • Not authorized to use speech or no audio device is availablabortable: truee
      1. onError({ error: 'not-allowed' })

    Function as a child

    Instead of passing child elements, you can pass a function to render different content based on ready state. This is called function as a child.

    Ready state Description
    0 Not started
    1 Starting recognition engine, recognition is not ready until it turn to 2
    2 Recognizing
    3 Stopping

    For example,

      {({ readyState }) =>
        readyState === 0 ? 'Start' : readyState === 1 ? 'Starting...' : readyState === 2 ? 'Listening...' : 'Stopping...'

    Customization thru morphing

    You can build your own component by copying our layout code, without messing around the logic code behind the scene. For details, please refer to DictateButton.js, DictateCheckbox.js, and DictationTextbox.js.

    Checkbox version

    In addition to <button>, we also ship <input type="checkbox"> out of the box. The checkbox version is better suited for toggle button scenario and web accessibility. You can use the following code for the checkbox version.

    import { DictateCheckbox } from 'react-dictate-button';
    export default () => (
        grammar="#JSGF V1.0; grammar districts; public <district> = Redmond | Bellevue;"

    Textbox with dictate button

    We also provide a "textbox with dictate button" version. But instead of shipping a full-fledged control, we make it a minimally-styled control so you can start copying the code and customize it in your own project. The sample code can be found at DictationTextbox.js.

    Design considerations

    • Hide the complexity of Web Speech events because we only want to focus on recognition experience
      • Complexity in lifecycle events: onstart, onaudiostart, onsoundstart, onspeechstart
      • onresult may not fire in some cases, onnomatch is not fired in Chrome
      • To reduce complexity, we want to make sure event firing are either:
        • Happy path: onProgress, then either onDictate or onError
        • Otherwise: onError
    • "Web Speech" could means speech synthesis, which is out of scope for this package
    • "Speech Recognition" could means we will expose Web Speech API as-is, which we want to hide details and make it straightforward for recognition scenario


    Please feel free to file suggestions.

    • While readyState is 1 or 3 (transitioning), the underlying speech engine cannot be started/stopped until the state transition is complete
      • Need rework on the state management
    • Instead of putting all logic inside Composer.js, how about
      1. Write an adapter to convert SpeechRecognition into another object with simpler event model and readyState
      2. Rewrite Composer.js to bridge the new SimpleSpeechRecognition model and React Context
      3. Expose SimpleSpeechRecognition so people not on React can still benefit from the simpler event model


    Like us? Star us.

    Want to make it better? File us an issue.

    Don't like something you see? Submit a pull request.


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