Tobi: Accessible DAISY Book Production Using the Human Voice

Original Author(s): Prashant Ranjan Verma
tobi logo

Tobi is a free authoring tool geared towards re-purposing published material, for example: to add audio narration to a text-only document, to synchronize a podcast with a structured script, or to review and improve an existing Digital Talking Book publication. Tobi’s feature list includes support for MathML, SVG, and rich image descriptions. Tobi’s upcoming release will also support EPUB 3 "Media Overlays".

One of the possible workflow for converting a structured text document in to a multimedia DAISY book is explained below. It is recommended that you read the Tobi User Manual to understand the User Interface before using this guide.

Tobi application screenshot

Step 1: Setup the project

Tobi can import text documents only in the DTBook XML format. The DTBook can be created from scratch using the Save As DAISY addons for Microsoft Word and Open Office, or by converting from other formats using the open-source DAISY Pipeline tool.

Make sure you mark-up all the different elements of the document such as sections, page numbers, footnotes, sidebars, abbreviations, tables with appropriate styles/tags before converting it into DTB XML. Instructions and videos for preparing the XML file are available on the DAISYpedia.

  1. When you have the DTB XML file ready, open Tobi by clicking its icon on the Desktop or in the Programs group – START > ALL PROGRAMS > DAISY CONSORTIUM > TOBI.
  2. In Tobi, click FILE menu > IMPORT or use the keystroke CTRL + I. Browse to the folder which contains the DTB XML file and click OPEN button.
  3. When prompted, in the PROJECT AUDIO FORMAT dialog select the sampling rate for recording. The default is 44100 Hz. There is a checkbox for stereo recording as well. The PRESERVE AUDIO FORMAT option is relevant only when importing existing audio books.

Tobi will import the document and its structure will be shown in the Navigation pane (top left window) and text content will be visible in the text document view(top right window).

You should check out the listing in the different TABS of the Navigation Pane - headings and page numbers to ensure that structure of the document is in order and ready for recording. To open the TABS, click on the TABS visible below the NAVIGATION PANE or press F8 and then CTRL + TAB.

Step 2: Recording

In Tobi audio narration should be synchronized with the text. For this you should start recording, read out the highlighted text on the screen, use the mouse or keyboard to highlight the next piece of text and then read it.

Using the STOP-AND-CONTINUE RECORDING THE NEXT PHRASE command makes recording very fast. Start the recording by pressing CTRL + R, read the current highlighted text and then press CTRL + SHIFT + R every time you want to highlight the next document phrase for recording. This command stops recording in the current phrase, moves the focus to the next document phrase and starts recording again so that you can read the highlighted text. Note that instead of this keystroke the STOP CURRENT RECORDING & MOVE TO NEXT PHRASE button on the AUDIO TOOLBAR can also be used.

To stop recording press CTRL + SPACE. This keystroke can also be used to stop playback and audio monitoring.

The commands useful for recording are listed below.

Start/stop monitoring audio levelAUDIO menu > RECORDING
Start/Stop RecordingRECORD BUTTON in the Audio TOOLBAR
Stop-and-continue recording the next phraseCTRL + SHIFT + R
Select previous document phraseSELECT PREVIOUS PHRASE button on DOCUMENT TOOLBAR
CTRL + ,
Select next document phraseSELECT NEXT PHRASE button on DOCUMENT TOOLBAR
CTRL + .
Cancel recordingESC

Recording can be done in the Tobi main screen or in the Narrator Window(CTRL + N). Further, you can choose to display only the text which is to be recorded (CTRL + T).

Note that Tobi provides more advanced options for audio and text synchronization. Refer to the user manual for more information.

Step 3: Audio editing

The recording should be reviewed to remove unwanted sounds, correct synchronization errors and ensure good audio phrases. Mouse or the keyboard can be used to review the audio and edit as required. The following table lists the keystrokes for audio playback and editing.

Audio navigation keyboard shortcuts
Goto begin of audio waveform HOME
Goto end of audio waveform END
Move to previous phrase in the audio waveform CTRL + ALT + LEFT
Move to next phrase in the audio waveform CTRL + ALT + RIGHT
Step left by a predefined time increment CTRL + LEFT
Step right by a predefined time increment CTRL + RIGHT
Audio edit keyboard shortcuts
Copy selected audio to clipboard CTRL C
Cut selected audio to clipboardCTRL X
Paste clipboard into current audio waveform CTRL V
Delete selected audio DELETE
Import external audio file CTRL + I
Generate TTS audio for selected document fragment CTRL + G
Split audio at cursor and shift the remainder audio into the following text fragment in the document CTRL RETURN
Audio selection keyboard shortcuts
Select all audio in waveform (double and triple CLICKs also work) CTRL + A
Clear selection CTRL + D
Select all content on left of playback cursor SHIFT + HOME
Select all content on right of playback cursorSHIFT + END
Select next audio phrase in waveform SHIFT + CTRL + ALT + LEFT
Select previous audio phrase in waveform SHIFT + CTRL + ALT + RIGHT
Begin selection at playback cursor CTRL + [
End selection at playback cursor (SHIFT CLICK also works) CTRL + ]
Audio waveform keyboard shortcuts
Fit audio waveform content into available width CTRL + W
Zoom on selected audio SHIFT + CTRL + W
Interrupts audio loading ESC

Tobi application screenshot

Step 4: Cleanup & Meta Data


In Tobi, audio editing is performed in a non-destructive manner that is the audio files are not actually deleted or trimmed during editing operations. This approach makes editing faster and leaves scope for undoing any action. However, at the time of finalizing the book it is important to delete unused files by invoking the cleanup command.

Press SHIFT + CTRL + ALT + D or click EDIT menu > CLEANUP to Start the cleanup process. On completion a folder named DELETE containing unused data file (such as images, CSS, etc.) is automatically opened by Tobi. You can then permanently delete this folder to free-up some space on the disc.


Press F11 to open the METADATA EDITOR. A list of required Metadata is displayed. Type the required information in the Content field of each Metadata item and click OK. You can use the DOWN/UP keys to select a Metadata item and TAB to move to its content field.

Note that it is possible to add other optional or recommended metadata to the project by using the ADD NEW ITEM button.

Step 5: Export to DAISY

Validation of the project is essential before export. Press F12 to open the validation dialog. It contains TAB pages for Meta Data errors and Mark-up errors. All issues should be resolved before finalizing the book.

After finalizing the above steps, you should export the Tobi project to a DAISY Digital Talking Book. Click FILE menu > EXPORT or press CTRL + E.

You will be prompted to choose an output directory for saving the exported book. If you do not select a folder then by default a new directory will be created inside the current book folder with a name ending with "_EXPORT". You can choose to encode the audio to MP3 at a desired compression rate from this TOBI EXPORT SETTINGS dialog. Click OK after choosing your settings. The target folder will open automatically displaying contents of the exported book on successful completion of the process. This folder should be used for distribution purposes and the Tobi project folder should be preserved for future repurposing of the content.

Tobi currently exports to the DAISY 3 format (latest 2005-3 version) but the DAISY Pipeline can be used to "downgrade" to a DAISY 2.02 fileset in order to support legacy reading devices.

See also

DAISYpedia Categories: 

This page was last edited by PVerma on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 05:47
Text is available under the terms of the DAISY Consortium Intellectual Property Policy, Licensing, and Working Group Process.