EdSharp 3.2 and FileDir 3.8 released

  • From: Jamal Mazrui <empower@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: guispeak@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, program-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, uaccess-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 10 Apr 2010 15:53:43 -0400 (EDT)

EdSharp 3.2

FileDir 3.8

EdSharp and FileDir are free, open source applications with rich feature sets that rival counterparts on Windows for file editing and directory management. In addition, they incorporate designs to maximize productivity by keyboard and screen reader users. A course of steady improvements, reflecting user feedback, has resulted in these time-tested, accessible solutions.

In the latest updates to EdSharp and FileDir, the free, open source screen reader for Windows called Nonvisual Desktop Access, NVDA, is now supported with direct speech messages, just like JAWS, System Access, and Window-Eyes. NVDA is available either as an installer or portable version from

When navigating the menu system of EdSharp or FileDir, a tooltip about the current menu item is now displayed on the status line. This is the same summary information that appears in each list item of the Alternate Menu command, Alt+F10.

Both EdSharp and FileDir add the Web Client Utilities command, Alt+Shift+Space, for tasks that conveniently retrieve information from web sources. The collection of 35 utilities is described in a new section of documentation -- an excerpt of which is pasted at the end of this message. Web 2.0 services can significantly increase efficient access to information by blind people.

The installer of optional JAWS scripts for EdSharp or FileDir is now compatible with 64-bit versions of Windows.

The Export command of EdSharp, Alt+Shift+E, now includes PDF as a target format. The Web Download command, Alt+Shift+W, now prompts whether to get URLs from a web page or the current document.

A new EdSharp configuration option, HardPageAddress, determines whether the Address command, Alt+A, gives a page number instead of document percentage (default is No). A form feed character specifies a hard page break. It is part of the sequence inserted by the Section Break command, Control+Enter, which is configurable via the SectionBreak option of the configuration dialog. Use the Control+PageDown and Control+PageUp commands to navigate by page. Pressing Alt+A a second time in a row gives the alternate type of address information, so you can still get a page number without changing the HardPageAddress setting.

The new Burn to CD command of EdSharp, Alt+Shift+B, operates on a path list in the current document. Each file or folder path should be placed on a separate line. If a parent folder is not specified, the last one in the list is used. The default parent folder is the current directory. For example, the following list specifies the EdSharp program folder and two test files from the temp folder:

C:\Program Files\EdSharp

You can create a path list manually, or use the Path List command, Control+Shift+P, to generate one for you. The paths found are burned to the default CD drive. The CD may be blank or include content already. The new content is added to it. The CD must be writable. At this time, DVDs do not work, only CDs.

The Recent command of FileDir, Alt+R, now prompts whether to show recent folders opened in FileDir, or recent shortcuts that Windows automatically creates in the special folder called Recent. These are shortcuts to files or folders that you opened in almost any application.


Web Client Utilities

The Web Client Utilities command, Alt+Shift+Space, is similar to the Research It command of JAWS, Insert+Space. The utilities are handy ways of getting useful information from free web 2.0 services. The following 35 utilities are installed (for efficient navigation in the listbox, each has a unique initial character, which may be a letter, digit, or symbol):

!Odd News - Get recent news items that are strange but true via reuters.com.

@DomainLookup - Get authoritative information about the registrant of an Internet domain name, e.g., AccessibleWorld.org. Note that some firewalls block this utility because it uses a different port than standard HTTP requests. This uses the free WhoisThisDomain utility from

#SportScores - Pick a sport from a list and go to the corresponding page on ESPN.com with recent news and scores.

$Product Search - Enter keywords that describe a product and go to its matching web page on amazon.com.

-TimeInternational - Enter a location (e.g., specified as city, country) and get the current time there via google.com.

=UnitConversion - enter a source value, e.g., 10 miles, and a target unit, e.g., kilometer, and get the converted result via google.com. This works for currency units as well as physical measurements.

1 Mile Stories - Get recent blog or news stories about a location and surrounding area within a one mile radius via the outside.in web service. Enter a location such as your home address on one line by using a comma and space between segments that you might otherwise type on separate lines.

508 Check - Check a web page for compliance with accessibility standards of the United States Government (Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act), as well as standards of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This checks a web page against 508 standards via CynthiaSays.com (the site limits checks to one per minute from the same client). It also includes the report of Wave, a web evaluation checker from WebAim.org.

0Captcha - Submit a captcha to solona.net ( a free account is required), and have the text solution copied to the clipboard so you can paste it into a web form. The utility waits up to 90 seconds for a human operator to respond. This utility is typically executed from within a browser that is displaying a captcha, though any .png file on disk may be submitted.

Address Lookup - Search for addresses of organizations meeting geographic and other criteria via jigsaw.com. This prompts for an organization name, area code, zip code, web site type, and fortune rank. Fill in one or more fields for the search. For example, input gov for the web site type in order to get government organizations, or 500 in the fortune field to get companies in the top fortune 500.

Business Reviews - Search for reviews of a business specified by a phone number via yelp.com.

Common URLs - Show a list of the 100 most commonly referenced URLs on Twitter at present via TweetMeme.com. These typically point to news stories that people have been retweeting.

Driving Directions - Input a starting and ending location, and get a list of steps to get there by car (a blind person might share this with a friend or cab driver). The location may be specified as a street address in any country. The utility prompts for a starting and ending address, uses the Google Maps API, and puts the estimated distance, duration, and steps in the viewing area. Specify an address as if you were addressing an envelope except for a comma rather than return between each line, e.g.,
1400 East-West Highway, Silver Spring MD 20910, USA

USA is assumed as the country if not specified.

EnglishDictionary Lookup - Get definitions and other information about a word via wiktionary.com.

Feed Find - Get a list of RSS and ATOM feeds made available by a web site. This prompts for a web source and returns a list of RSS or ATOM feeds found. An http:// prefix is assumed if not specified. For example, entering

finds two RSS feeds related to top stories and latest stories. You can open a feed url to read recent content, or subscribe with a feed reader for regular updates.

Google Search and Set Suggestions - Propose a Google search and get a list of popular searches that are similar. Also Get a list of terms that may be part of the same set. For example, enter a comma-separated list of U.S. presidents and let Google suggest a more complete list.

Horoscope Reading - Input a zodiac sign (e.g., Sagittarius) and get a horoscope for today via my.horoscope.com.

Interesting Places - Get a list of nearby places to eat, shop, or visit via NextStop.com. This prompts for a location, which can be in the city, state format, or a complete address with commas seperating postal address lines. Also input the distance in kilometers to search from that location, and any words that you want to narrow the search, e.g., Chinese for that type of food. An excerpt from a review of each place is also included, if available.

Journalist World Reports - Get world headlines from multiple web sources: the BBC, CNN, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, Reuters, and Yahoo. A structured text file is generated containing a section of news items from each source. Each item has a title, summary, and URL for the full article.

KnowledgeWikipedia - Input a topic and get a Wikipedia article as both a web page and a text file.

Language Translation - Translate text you specify, between about 100 different languages. You can quickly understand what a foreign phrase means or how to write it. This uses the Google Translate API to translate text among about 100 natural languages. By default, the choice for the source language is unknown and automatically inferred by Google. You pick the target language, and either enter or paste text in the multi-line edit box.

Members of Congress - Based on a U.S. zip code, get a list of House and Senate members with various data including committee assignments and contact information via SunlightLabs.com.

Neighborhood Search - Search for places near a location, e.g., restaurants with a particular cuisine near an address you are visiting (anywhere in the world). This prompts for an address in the same format as Driving Directions and also for one or more keywords specified as if searching on Google, e.g.,
seafood steak

to find restaurants in the area that serve both seafood and steak.

Original URL - Get the original version of a URL, e.g., one that was shortened for sharing in a tweet. This does the reverse of the Short URL utility, prompting for a URL, converting it, and copying the result to the clipboard.

Physician Online - Enter a medical topic and go to a matching web page on WebMD.com.

Quotes of the Day - Get daily food for thought from famous quotes and their authors. This Shows a humorous quote from IHeartQuotes.com, as well as several motivational quotes from QuotationsPage.com.

Recommended URLs - Based on a topic word, get a list of currently popular URLs that people are saving as bookmarks via delicious.com.

Short URL - Get a shortened version of a URL via j.mp.com, e.g., so you can share it in a tweet and have more text to type within the 140 character limit.

Trend Topics - Get a list of currently popular topics on Twitter via LetsBeTrends.com.

Url Downloads - Batch download multiple urls based on an initial page address and the extensions of files linked to it. This puts a space-separated list of extensions found in an input box. Edit it so that only the extensions you want remain. The utility then puts a list of those links in a multiple-selection listbox, showing the link text and URL for each. The items are all selected by default, but you can use arrow keys and Spacebar to unselect ones as desired. The next dialog prompts for a folder for saving the files, which will be remembered as the default choice the next time. The utility says the name of each file as it is being downloaded.

Virtual White Pages - Search the white pages of U.S. phone books for listings of residential phone numbers and postal addresses via WhitePages.com.

Weather Check - Get a summary of current and forecasted conditions for any location via wunderground.com. This works with city, country locations as well as U.S. zip codes.

Xtra Word Info - Get definitions, usage examples, and origins of a word. This shows definition and examples via Wordnik.com; synonyms and antonyms via words.BigHugeLabs.com; and etymology via etymonline.com.

Yahoo! Term Extractions - Get noteworthy noun phrases contained in a web page via yahoo.com.

Zoom Info - Search for employment contacts by name or email address via ZoomInfo.com.

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