Control Usage Assistant: coming back to life, version 2.5/nightlight version is on its way #addonrelease


Hi everyone,


For users of Control Usage Assistant: reports of its demise has greatly been exaggerated…


I’m delighted to announce that Control Usage Assistant is being resurrected i.e. supported again. This add-on added a command (NVDA+H) that gives you a handy help message for working with the focused control, similar to help messages from other screen readers.


Originally, Derek Riemer, a member of the NVDA community, was planning to maintain this add-on. After a short Twitter conversation, it was decided that I’ll maintain it after all. Thus, the “end of life” (EOL) tag is gone.


Speaking of resurrecting this add-on several big announcements:


  • Version 2.5/nightlight: as promised a few days ago, version 2.5 of Control Usage Assistant, or version nightlight, will be made available in the next hour or so. This one is huge in that it introduces a rewritten readme and makes the add-on Python 3 ready.
  • New add-on source code repository: with the add-on coming back to life, I figured it is time to give it a new home. For anyone wishing to look at source code for this add-on can now do so by going to t. Consequently, the next big update after version 2.5/nightlight will be downloadable from GitHub.
  • Speaking of a big update: yes, it is coming (likely later this year). Tentatively known as Control usage Assistant generation 3 (or NG/next generation), this version will not only change the versioning scheme to match the rest of my add-ons (year.month.revision), it’ll bring a completely new way of reviewing help information. Previously when you pressed NVDA+H, help messages were spoken and/or brailled on the spot. Starting with the next update, it’ll become a browse mode window, mirroring help message screens from other screen readers.


Other key features of the big update:


  • Add-on name: to be shortened to just “Control Usage Assistant”.
  • More contextual: not only the help message based on the type of the control will be shown, a more comprehensive and contextual help message will be provided. This may include not only working with specific types of controls, it may include help coming from other add-ons, app help messages, and perhaps more. In other words, the way the help message is obtained will be reborn from scratch.
  • Extensible (perhaps coming later): authors of add-ons will be able to supplement help messages for specific controls and/or apps. For example, an author of an app module can ask Control Usage Assistant to present a specific help message for an overlay control seen in an app.
  • Requires NVDA 2019 series, most likely upcoming 2019.3 (later this year).


For those keeping an eye on GitHub issues: for a number of years you may have seen a request for context-sensitive help for NVDA. The issue in question is 2699 and can be found at:


In fact, development of Control Usage Assistant began shortly after that issue appeared. In other words, what you will see with the next big update is really a prototype for a feature that might be included in a future NVDA release (and yes, I know I start to sound very repetitive, but there is a pull request for this feature somewhere that will look similar to Control Usage Assistant generation 3).


I’m sure you’d like to test the next big update. I plan to release a prototype development snapshot of that release in a few weeks, which will require NVDA 2019.1 or later.





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