Hello NvDA users,
As we await the next version of NVDA (2021.1 which is going through last bits of testing), I’m sure you might be asking about some of your favorite add-ons and their NVDA 2021.1 readiness. As you can see from add-on compatibility document I shared a few weeks ago, many add-ons are ready for the next NvDA release, and speech synthesizer vendors are putting finishing touches to their add-ons or have released compatible releases. If you do notice incompatible add-ons (apart from ones where we had people share status updates for a while), please contact add-on developers for definitive answers.
The purpose of this notice is to document what will happen to Joseph Lee’s (my) add-ons in the near future, as two significant changes are on the horizon, driven by life changes and what’s coming in future NVDA releases. As such, what I’m about to say will not have an immediate impact, but it is important to let you know so you can prepare accordingly. And before I tell you what’s coming, I hereby disclose that I am no longer the head administrator and owner of NVDA Add-ons list – Noelia Martinez, the author and maintainer of add-ons including Place Markers, Clip Contents Designer and others, is the add-ons community administrator, with NV Access staff also serving as admins of the add-ons list.
So what are the two big changes Joseph is talking about? First has to do with life changes. As most of you may know by now, I’m at a point in life where I need to devote more time to school. Therefore, I announce that, by end of this year, most of my add-ons will be in the hands of the NVDA community i.e. I’m ending support and maintenance for them. Some were my creations (Control Usage Assistant, Enhanced Touch Gestures, GoldWave), while others were transformed under my watch (Resource Monitor, StationPlaylist). The add-ons listed in parentheses are the ones I’m handing over to the community for further maintenance – the beauty of open source is that folks are welcome to view, study, modify, and depending on license, share and contribute edits, including add-ons. As a side note, Easy Table Navigator is my creation, but I handed it to the community last year and we now have an updated release compatible with upcoming NVDA 2021.1, and modifications were made by community members (thank you to folks who did make it compatible). I hope people can find ways to maintain Control Usage Assistant, Enhanced Touch Gestures, GoldWave, Resource Monitor, and StationPlaylist in the future and make them much better (all of these add-ons are hosted on my GitHub page under https://github.com/josephsl). I promise that I will make an announcement when the last versions of these add-ons under my maintenance are published.
The second big change has to do with the version of NVDA coming after 2021.1, appropriately labeled 2021.2. Currently NVDA 2021.2 is under alpha testing phase, and it introduces several changes that will impact not only users, but add-ons, too. Most notably, foundations to support Windows 11 is present, along with a brand new way to let add-ons detect and work with control roles and states while modernizing the underlying code. This last point on control roles and states is called “control types refactor” and will have significant impact on many add-ons, especially add-ons supporting various apps. My add-ons are also affected, most notably Control Usage Assistant, GoldWave, StationPlaylist, and Windows App Essentials. What I’m about to say concerns my own add-ons – other add-on developers may have different policies on supporting old and new NvDA releases.
Although it is important to support old and new NVDA releases, with a significant change such as control types refactor, it becomes hard to maintain compatibility with older NVDA releases as time passes. Therefore I hereby announce that, as soon as NVDA 2021.2 is released to everyone (stable channel, that is), ALL of my add-ons will receive updates requiring you to use NVDA 2021.2 or later (I call this “version jump”). Not only this will be the case for add-ons I’m handing to the community, it will be applied to Add-on Updater and Windows App Essentials as well. As for when the NVDA requirement will take effect, it will depend on when NVDA 2021.2 beta 1 is released as that’s when add-on developers will check their add-ons for compatibility and publish announcements.
Special note for Windows App Essentials users: if you are using development snapshots, at least two builds in the future will require recent NVDA alpha snapshots. This is done to test compatibility with upcoming NVDA release.
I understand that these two big changes might be a bit hard to process for some. In summary, these decisions were driven by change. I, too thought I would contribute to NVDA and create new add-ons for years to come. But life goes on, and so I must let go of things I have supported for years, knowing that somewhere out there is a person or two who will make these add-ons better. In the realm of software development, changes happen really fast, and sometimes we need to let go of legacy materials to prepare for future possibilities.
I also understand that some people would question my decision to publish this notice early – normally I would wait until NVDA beta 1 is released before making notices like this. But for changes as big as the ones I outlined, I believe that users have the right to know what’s going on so you can prepare accordingly. In the end, I want to reassure you that I’m thinking about users – I personally don’t regret having nightly wrestling matches a.k.a. debugging sessions with Windows 11, knowing that NVDA users should be treated with respect when it comes to Windows 11 usage, and spending a weekend in July 2014 to work with a StationPlaylist user on encoders support was an eye-opening experience.
To everyone who provided feedback on Control Usage Assistant, Enhanced Touch Gestures, GoldWave, Resource Monitor, and StationPlaylist, thank you. As for NVDA 2021.1, I, too can’t wait to see how it goes for everyone once released; in the meantime, NvDA development continues, and the next big thing on the horizon will be 2021.2.