Edgy Accessibility features

Henrik henrik at ubuntu.com
Sat Apr 22 18:09:55 BST 2006

Gary Cramblitt wrote:
> Hynek and I were discussing the issue of configuration files and GUIs for 
> Speech Dispatcher just yesterday.  ATM Speech Dispatcher uses dotconf to read 
> its configuration files.  dotconf files are reasonably easy to edit with a 
> text editor, but we agree that a user-friendly GUI and/or command-line 
> interface would be better.  

It seems sensible to use an established library for this, though AFAICS 
dotconf only has C routines available, so an app like Orca that is 
written in python would not be able to edit these files so easily. Also, 
a GUI might be easier to write in a scripting language. ATM Orca stores 
its config info directly in a python file, which they say makes it 
easier to add user plugins.

> One idea is to develop a library for reading and 
> writing of the config files that can be used for the GUIs in both KDE and 
> GNOME.   We want terminal-based users to be able to perform configuration as 
> well as GUI users.  

One way forward might be to agree on a very simple subset of dotconf 
that all free desktop AT applications will stick to for the near future. 
It would then be fairly easy to duplicate that functionality in python 
and whatever other languages are needed so that everyone can read and 
write the same files. I'm sure there would be a way of bolting on a 
separate section that could handle Orca's need for plugin code as well.

I was originally thinking of a GUI system written in python that could 
render the interface in GTK, Qt or HTML as needed. I think the HTML 
interface is especially interesting because you can display it on the 
console via lynx or just in the default browser and the look can easily 
be altered. I'll do a mock-up of this idea soonish.

> Throw in a requirement for a central configuration for all AT components and the issue gets even more complicated. 
OK, let's try not to make it more complicated :) It just seems to me 
that we now have several AT systems coming on line at the point where 
they need to start working out their config systems, including GUIs. We 
have Orca, SD, KDE4, Gunnar's new magnifier etc., all in this position.

It seems like a golden opportunity to reach for a common standard and a 
common interface. To be honest, I'm not even that worried about picking 
the wrong format or the wrong standard at this point. If four key AT 
systems agree on one config standard now and if in a year's time it 
turns out we've made a bad choice, we would have a bit of a job of 
migrating onto a new config system. But we would be in it together and 
we would manage the transition together. It would be doable. However, if 
we pick four different standards now, I think it would be much more 
difficult do unite them in the future when everyone has settled in.
> Hynek agrees it would be better if Orca interfaced directly with Speech 
> Dispatcher.  The Gnome-Speech Dispatcher component is very basic right now.  
Sounds good to me. Let's hear what the Orca guys say :)
> GNOME and KDE are indeed planning to unify around the AT-SPI for KDE4.  If 
> that happens, the ATs in GNOME would work with KDE4 apps and the ATs in KDE 
> would work with GNOME apps.  The biggest obstacle right now is the use of 
> Orbit/CORBA.  KDE would like to see a migration to DBUS, but how we get 
> there, and the intermediate steps is unclear.  There is also a shortage of 
> people willing and able to work on this, so not much is happening ATM.
Is this an area where a Google Summer of Code project might be 
appropriate? Are the things that need doing well defined?

- Henrik

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