Notes on Joseph Lee's add-ons: Add-on Updater mechanics, possible end of support for Windows 7 from my add-ons in 2022


 

Hi all,

With the end of fall finals, I decided to look at the forum archives in hopes of answering some add-on questions raised in the last few days. Specifically, I’m posting this message in response to a thread about Application Dictionary compatibility and the maintenance window for most of my add-ons is coming to a close soon.

Regarding Add-on Updater: some of you might be wondering about which add-ons Add-on Updater can check for updates. Add-on Updater can check for updates for add-ons registered on NVDA Community Add-ons website (addons.nvda-project.org). This means Add-on Updater cannot check for add-ons not registered there.

In the past, in order to get an add-on registered on community add-ons website, it must go through a review by an add-ons community member. This process was simplified recently – all that the add-on author must do is provide the following when registering add-ons:

  • Add-on name
  • Author information
  • Brief add-on description
  • Download link to an add-on release
  • Add-on source code repository (if one exists)

This information forms the basis of a pull request to be sent to NV Access to officially register new add-ons and/or update existing add-ons. Once registered, Add-on Updater will start checking for add-on updates without user intervention.

But that’s only part of the picture: one of the things people look for when testing add-ons is compatibility, specifically the minimum and last tested NVDA releases the add-on is compatible with. Even if an add-on is registered on community add-ons website, if NVDA determines the add-on is incompatible with the version of NVDA you are using, then NVDA itself will not install the add-on. Add-on Updater will go further and will not offer updates to add-ons deemed incompatible for the version of NVDA the Add-on Updater is running on (this check is also done without user intervention); this is the reason why I announced the other day that Add-on Updater will not offer add-on updates for NVDA versions earlier than 2021.2 for some add-ons (notably mine), so to get updates for these, you must install newer NVDA releases.

In relation to Application Dictionary, Add-on Updater cannot check for updates not only because the add-on is not registered on community add-ons website, the add-on itself isn’t compatible with NVDA 2021.1 API. I’m writing this explanation for three reasons:

  1. The best people to contact regarding add-on compatibility isn’t just users – add-on authors are the best people to contact about add-ons, and if contact is lost, the add-ons community.
  2. Unless unable to do so, add-on authors must be proactive in keeping their add-ons updated and ready for recent changes, including compatibility changes. I guarantee that by the time NVDA 2022.1 beta 1 is released, there will be attempts to circumvent API changes by “modifying” add-on manifests, and that strategy will FAIL for several add-ons.
  3. Please help the community add-ons website by requesting add-on registrations (it would be great if add-on authors themselves shows willingness to register their add-ons). Not only it helps the add-ons community, it would also improve the reputation of NVDA by making add-ons more discoverable.

 

Speaking of add-ons, I hereby announce that the following add-ons will end support for Windows 7 and 8.0 (not 8.1) as early as 2022:

  • Control Usage Assistant
  • Enhanced Touch Gestures
  • GoldWave
  • Resource Monitor
  • StationPlaylist

Specifically, I expect the next (planned )stable versions of these add-ons will be one of the last releases to end support for Windows 7. This is so that whoever is going to maintain these add-ons in the future can work with simplified code. As for NVDA itself ending support for Windows 7, that’s not up to me to decide – that decision lies with NV Access (although you can taste what that would look like; coming soon).

I’m making the above statement to prepare you for the day when NVDA will require Windows 8.1 or later (or for that matter, Windows 10 and later). Unless your computer is part of an organization that has elected to stay on Windows 7 and/or need to use it for development and testing purposes, I advise you all to move to a supported Windows release – Windows 8.1, 10, or 11 (and any future release). Windows 7 will be supported by Microsoft until January 2023 but if and only if the organization the computer is part of pays Microsoft for extended security updates (ESU’s); for everyone else, Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft. Again let me make it clear that the decision to end support for Windows 7 from NVDA itself does not rest with me – it is up to NV Access to decide, and for now NVDA supports Windows 7.

Cheers,

Joseph

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