UDS-O About onscreen keyboard - display manager - dwelling

Francesco Fumanti francesco.fumanti at gmx.net
Thu May 5 18:23:18 UTC 2011


First of all, I hope that I am addressing this email to the appropriate list and people; if not, please forward it to the appropriate place or inform me where I should send it.

As everybody is probably already knowing, the Ubuntu Developer Summit for Oneiric is being held next week. Thus, I would like to take the opportunity to draw the attention to a few points of particular interest:

1) Onscreen keyboard

Browsing around, I found the following log of an irc session and would like to remind onboard's features for the case there will be a discussion at UDS about replacing it with another onscreen keyboard:

- Onboard does not need at-spi to run: indeed, it is an onscreen keyboard suitable for pointer users (tabletpc users, disabled users,...), that can use it for their typing. I don't think that it is worth requiring users to run at-spi in order to run a simple onscreen keyboard. (Requiring an onscreen keyboard to use at-spi would also make it impossible to work out of the box as at-spi is not enabled by default.)

Remark: I think that we should distinguish between users that require an onscreen keyboard but are able to control the mouse, and users that require an onscreen keyboard but are not able to use a mouse, like people using one or more switches to control the computer. The latter probably need an onscreen keyboard able to interact with the GUI like GOK, or caribou once it gets finished... (GOK was not good adapted for pointer users, which was one of the reasons for the development of onboard.)

- It is usable out of the box at GDM and the desktop (if its desktop files were not patched by the Ubuntu dev to be hidden);it also supports the unlocking of the screen; for example after the screensaver has taken over.

- It is possible to perform "virtual modifiers + click" actions, for example to do multiple selections using the shift or control modifier and the mouse.

- The keyboard layout is defined by xml and svg files, allowing users to define their own layouts.

- Onboard is currently getting a facelift supporting the use of themes in order to improve its look and making it easier to adapt to the look of the distribution. You might have a look at the following webpage where I posted a few screenshots of what is possible with the new facelift:

2) Display manager

I have come accross the following blueprint for oneiric:

Does this mean that LightDM is going to replace GDM?

I just ran a test session in natty where I replaced GDM with the LightDM display manager available in the repository, but I did not get beyond the login screen, because there was no explicit way to enable an onscreen keyboard...

There is already a little menu to increase the font size and set high contrast. Thus, I would like to ask whether this menu could not be enhanced with more accessibility features; maybe also turning it into a dialog. A starting point might be the accessibility features available in the GDM accessibility dialog.

However, even the accessibility dialog of GDM is lacking at least one accessibility tool: dwelling.

3) Dwelling

GNOME and consequently Ubuntu are shipping mousetweaks, a software package providing the dwelling fonctionality already for several cycles, but both distributions are still lacking a way for dwell users to autonomly enable dwelling.

Until Ubuntu maverick, the problem could be partly solved for the desktop session by adding the dwell applet to the gnome-panel. (The dwell applet allowed the user to enable and disable dwelling without having to perform any click with the mouse; it also allowed the user to indicate to the dwelling feature, what click type to automatically perform after the dwelling timeout.)

What about enhancing the accessibility menu or dialog-icon so that it gets activated also by dwelling with the pointer on it (apart from activating it by a click); of course, the accessibility menu or dialog would also have to contain an item to enable dwelling by only hovering with the pointer on that item.

This would solve the dwell problem for the login screen. Something similar would be necessary in the desktop session. For example, also providing a dwellable accessibility menu or dialog-icon in the panel of the desktop session.

I can imagine that an accessibility menu might not be very welcome by default on the top panel of Unity, so a more subtle approach might be more appropriate: only show the accessibility menu or dialog-icon by default in the desktop session, when an accessibility feature has been enabled during login.

I am remaining vague here on purpose because I don't want to fix the design of how a user can autonomly enable dwelling in a way that might not suit the Unity designer. The main purpose here is to offer dwell users an intuitive and obvious way to enable the dwelling feature by themselves.



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