Re: New programmer

  • From: Andreas Stefik <stefika@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 1 May 2010 12:14:44 -0500

> Any word on using voice over on the mac in terms of programming
> accessibility?  I am asking because I am thinking on switching.

I'm not sure if you are asking me, but my team here has been working with
Apple on getting better voice over support into NetBeans (Voice works ok
with X-code). Since everything is closed source, it's wicked difficult, but
as it stands, we have the following working:

1. Basic editor support
2. Basic navigation support in the environment.

So, in theory, it does actually work, and we use it all the time, but there
are an armada of bugs on that platform. For example, menus still don't work
very well. We've tried a ton of different hacks around it, including turning
off the mac menus and replacing them with our own, but these fixes cause
some other nasty usability problems. Right now, one of the developers on the
project (Louie Most), is working on a major rewrite of the way our TTS
engine hooks in. We've tested through some of the APIs apple is pushing us
toward, and it's tricky to get right, but we think it will be a huge
improvement. Apple also tells us they're trying to get some fixes into voice
over as well, and the NetBeans team has fixed several accessibility bugs
we've reported in the NetBeans 6.9 release. It's a slow process, but
progress always is. In theory, our side of that release will hopefully be
out, and on the NetBeans update center for download, by December. Our exact
roadmap and bug lists can be found here:

We're also almost done with a custom compiler/debugger architecture that we
are distributing to the washington state school for the blind this summer as
part of a national science foundation project where we're integrating
programming into their standard school curriculum. These tools are "nearly"
complete and are massively different, we think, than anything the blind
community has used before. If I do say so myself, I'm especially proud of
our talking debugger --- it's come a long way. We finally got it to tell you
better information about functions the other day. For example, if you call a
function named main, and "step over" it, our debugger now says "Calling
action main." I was pretty stoked when we got that working.


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