Tony's add-ons: updates and new features


Tony Malykh
 

Happy new year, everyone!

I present new features and improvements to my add-ons. This is a pretty long email, so I marked sections as level 1 and level 2 headings for ease of navigation. Any feedback and suggestions are welcome!

BrowserNav v2.2

·       Website: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-browser-nav/

·       Download: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-browser-nav/releases/latest/download/browsernav.nvda-addon

The most exciting new feature is support of bookmarks. You can now configure bookmarks and this simplifies navigation around websites that you frequently use. Bookmarks can be configured either for a specific URL or for the entire domain. Bookmark itself can be configured either as matching text on the page, or a regular expression. There are many more options to customize bookmarks, please refer to github page for a full list of options.

There are four types of bookmarks in BrowserNav:

QuickJump bookmarks

Once they are configured, you can find and jump to them by pressing either J or Shift+J in browse mode. BrowserNav comes with default configuration that you can use as an example of configuring bookmarks, and that example includes some QuickJump bookmarks for amazon.com: you can jump to “5 items in cart”, “Your Orders”, “4.5 out of 5 stars” – these are just examples of information that I often need to find on Amazon pages while shopping, but you can of course configure your own bookmarks.

SkipClutter bookmarks

These are not really bookmarks, but rather you can configure BrowserNav to skip certain text while navigating either by paragraph (with Control+Up/Down) or by line (with Up/Down). Most common example of this is skipping blank lines – and this one is included in the default configuration. Other examples can include skipping timestamps or frequently repeated elements on the webpage (think of repeating buttons on Facebook website: Reply, React, Like, …). SkipClutter mode can be turned off temporarily when you do want to access those elements by pressing / or Control+/.

QuickClick bookmarks

These are similar to QuickJump bookmarks, but instead of jumping to bookmark, you can click buttons or links without moving your cursor. For example, on youtube.com you might want to have an easy way to play/pause video. In fact this QuickClick bookmark is included in the default configuration for reference. So, you just need to press Alt+J to click all QuickClick bookmarks on the page. Another example of where I find QuickClick especially useful is expanding collapsed elements of the page, e.g. on Facebook you might want to automatically expand links “See more”, “View 5 more comments”, etc.

Hierarchical bookmarks

Many websites (e.g., reddit, hacker news) show user comments as a tree where each successive level of reply is indented more and more to the right. Hierarchical bookmarks is the most convenient way to browse such comment trees for screenreader users. BrowserNav can announce the level of current comment, or alternatively, you can jump to next/previous comment of a given level, similar to built-in function of jumping to heading of given level. You just need to capture some element of a comment in a bookmark (such as upvote or downvote buttons) and BrowserNav will automatically compute levels based on horizontal offset of each match. I have included sample configuration for hacker news and old reddit. You can try it yourself once you have BrowserNav v2.2 installed:

·       Old reddit: https://old.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/rt91z6/exchange_2019_antimalware_bad_update/

·       Hacker news: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29756714

Keystrokes:

·       Alt+` or Alt+Shift+`: jump to next/previous comment and announce its level.

·       Alt+1 or Alt+Shift+1: jumpt to next/previous comment at level 1.

·       Alt+2 or Alt+Shift+2: jumpt to next/previous comment at level 2.

·       Alt+number or Alt+Shift+number: jumpt to next/previous comment at corresponding level.

Please note that in both reddit and hacker news the bookmark also matches the original post. As a result, on reddit original post corresponds to level 2, so all the comments have levels 1,3,4,5 …. Skipping level 2.

Configuring websites and bookmarks

Press NVDA+J to open BrowserNav popup menu. Here you can configure websites and bookmarks. For ease of use I added options to create a new entry for current website, and create a new bookmark from current paragraph.

All websites and bookmarks can also be configured via NVDA > Preferences > Settings dialog.

Website options

There are a few options that can be configured on per website level:

·       Block focus events: some websites misuse focus events: e.g. they focus some elements when trying to scroll, thus making the website hard or impossible to use for screenreader users. You can disable handling of focus events for such websites. In this case focus events will be ignored and your cursor will not jump around.

·       Block live region announcements. Similarly, some websites misuse live regions. BrowserNav allows to selectively block them.

·       Auto QuickClick. Once you configured QuickClick bookmarks on  a website, you can tell BrowserNav to click those bookmarks automatically when website is fully loaded.

Performance improvements

Vertical navigation (via NVDA+Alt+Up/Down commands) now works much faster in Chromium-based browsers and Firefox.

Recap of other BrowserNav functions

·       Vertical navigation: allows to find objects on a web page that are directly underneath by pressing NVDA+Alt+Down/Up.

·       Navigation by font size: allows to find text written in the same font size or font style.

·       More QuickNav commands: jump to next menu(Z), tab(Y), dialog(P), etc.

Notes

·       I am aware of Placemarkers add-on existence. BrowserNav bookmarks is however different in many ways: more flexible website definition, more flexible bookmark definition, more functionality around different types of bookmarks. I know NVDA community is typically wary of add-ons that are similar in functionality, but I didn’t have any intention to compete against PlaceMarkers. The function of regular expression search was in BrowserNav since many years ago and developing proper bookmarks was a natural extension of it. It would also be totally impractical for me to upgrade Placemarkers add-on, since the changes that I implemented would require rewriting probably 90% of Placemarkers, so this is not justified.

·       I can split off bookmarks into a separate add-on if there is enough interest. As long as community doesn’t mind given concerns of being too similar to Placemarks add-on.

Tony’s Enhancements v1.13

·       Website: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-tonys-enhancements

·       Download: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-tonys-enhancements/releases/latest/download/tonysEnhancements.nvda-addon

This add-on is a hodgepodge of different NVDA improvements and this time I added a few interesting ones.

Sound split

Triggered by pressing NVDA+Alt+S you can enable sound split: when using stereo headphones this would make all NVDA sounds to go to right channel, while all application sounds will go to left channel (or vice versa). This could be handy if you have to attend long and boring meetings over VC. Additionally you can adjust NVDA volume and applications volume separately via NVDA+Control+PageUp/PageDown and NVDA+Alt+PageUp/PageDown keystrokes.

Copying tables

Many people on NVDA mailing list complained that there was no good way in NVDA to copy a table from a webpage. Now there is a way! Press NVDA+Alt+T while on a table and you’ll be presented with a few options: you can either copy the whole table, or current row or column. The table will be copied with preserving formatting information about its cells, so that you can paste it into Microsoft Word or any other rich text editor, and it will still appear as a table.

Experimental mouse click and mouse scroll scripts

I noticed that existing NVDA mouse click scripts don’t always work. In particular I found cases when NVDA+NumPadDivide keystroke doesn’t bring mouse cursor over the link that I would like to click. These scripts are my attempt to solve this. The feature is experimental, in the sense that there are still cases where it doesn’t work as expected. Yet it already can be very useful in some cases, so I decided to still include it in the release. Keystrokes:

·       NVDA+NumPadDivide/NumPadMultiply: moves mouse pointer to current object, clicks left/right mouse button, then moves mouse pointer back to where it was. Additionally it tries to check if there are any other windows on the way (e.g. topmost windows) and tries to get them out of the way.

·       Alt+NumPadPlus/NumPadMinus: Move mouse pointer over current object and scroll up/down. This can be useful to load more content in infinite scroll websites.

·       Alt+NumPadDelete: move mouse pointer to top left corner of the screen. This can be useful for websites that make excessive use of mouse hover information to show popup windows.

Recap of other functions of Tony’s enhancements

·       Enhanced table navigation commands, such as jump to first/last row/column.

·       Automatic language switching based on Unicode character set.

·       QuickSearch – similar to BrowserNav QuickJump bookmark, but works in text editors.

·       Dynamic keystrokes: allows to configure announcing current line after certain keystrokes.

·       Showing and hiding any application windows.

·       Detecting insert/overwrite mode in text editors to prevent accidentally overwriting text.

·       Adjusting system priority of NVDA process for better responsiveness.

Bluetooth Audio v1.4

·       Website: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-bluetooth-audio

·       Download: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-bluetooth-audio/releases/latest/download/bluetoothaudio.nvda-addon

Bluetooth audio fixes quality of audio by playing either silence or soft white noise as long as NVDA is active. Many Bluetooth headphones and speakers enter standby mode after a few seconds of inactivity. Then when NVDA speaks next utterance, the first word or two might be lost. Bluetooth Audio prevents these devices from entering standby mode by keeping audio stream open and constantly playing some sound. In fact, Bluetooth audio has been reported to improve audio quality on other types of audio devices: RF wireless headphones and even some wired speakers. It can also get rid of crackling noise on some devices.

The previous version of Bluetooth Audio could only play silence. As a result, it was hard to tell whether it is working or not. In fact, it seems that it wasn’t working, or at least not always working – one of NVDA updates in 2020 seems to have broken it, and even I didn’t catch it. To avoid this in the future I added an option to play soft white noise instead of silence, so that you can hear when Bluetooth audio is working. Another feature I added is dynamically changing output device when NVDA configuration changes – previously that required a restart.

IndentNav v1.13

·       Website: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-indent-nav/

·       Download: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-indent-nav/releases/latest/download/IndentNav.nvda-addon

IndentNav is primarily designed for software developers, and it allows better navigation around indented source code files in text editors. This new version works much faster, especially in VSCode. Here are some keystrokes to try (please read github page for a complete list):

·       NVDA+Alt+Up/Down: jump to next/previous line with the same indentation level within current block.

·       NVDA+Alt+Left/Right: jump to parent/first child line, where parent and child are defined as line with lesser/greater indentation level.

·       NVDA+Control+I: select current block (e.g. function).

·       NVDA+V: indent-paste, that is paste with adjusting indentation level of clipboard content to match current line.

Phonetic punctuation v1.6

·       Website: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-phonetic-punctuation/

·       Download: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-phonetic-punctuation/releases/latest/download/phoneticPunctuation.nvda-addon

Phonetic punctuation allows to replace punctuation marks with auditory icons (earcons). In general, it allows to replace any regular expression configured substring with an auditory icon, which can be great for getting rid of timestamps and other frequently repeated fragments. It also allows to change prosody parameters for parts of speech, but only a few synthesizers support this. This new version allows to adjust volume of each individual auditory icon and has several bugfixes.

WordNav v1.7

·       Website: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-word-nav/

·       Download: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-word-nav/releases/latest/download/wordNav.nvda-addon

WordNav provides more advanced scripts to navigate by word. It replaces built in Control+Left/Right keystrokes with custom scripts. It makes behavior of these keystrokes consistent across all applications and adds multiple options on its behavior.

In this last version I spent quite some time to work around Google Chrome bug in its IAccessible implementation, but in the end I made it to work correctly in Chrome.

SentenceNav v2.12

·       Website: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-sentence-nav/

·       Download: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-sentence-nav/releases/latest/download/SentenceNav.nvda-addon

SentenceNav allows to navigate by sentence via Alt+Up/Down keystrokes. This new version includes some bugfixes.

TextNav v1.6

·       Website: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-text-nav/

·       Download: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-text-nav/releases/latest/download/textnav.nvda-addon

TextNav allows you to find the beginning of article, that is readable text written in complete sentences, on any webpage. You can automatically skip most of the clutter, such as menus, images, metadata and ads on webpages. Works by pressing Alt+Shift+Down/Up keys. This latest version only updates compatibility flag.

Console toolkit v1.2

·       Website: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-console-toolkit/

·       Download: https://github.com/mltony/nvda-console-toolkit/releases/latest/download/consoleToolkit.nvda-addon

This add-on provides some additional features for console application, such as Windows command prompt and Windows Terminal. This new version adds better support for Putty. Here are some features:

·       Control+V can now be used for pasting.

·       Speech becomes more real-time in a console that actively prints new messages.

·       You can edit current command by pressing NVDA+e in an accessible window.

Notes

·       Versions have not been updated on the official NVDA add-ons website yet. I sent a pull request, and it is subject to approval by NVAccess. Until then, feel free to download latest versions using links I provided above.

·       All the add-ons were tested with NVDA alpha build 24399. Some compatibility issues have been fixed, however, it is still possible that something will change and compatibility will break again by the time NVDA 2022 is released. The author however has very limited time to work on add-ons, in fact the only time of year when I have time to maintain my add-ons is the winter break around Christmas and New Year. So, I release my add-ons as is. I might try to find some time to fix compatibility mid-year, but I cannot commit to it. Which brings me to my second point:

·       Volunteers needed. I currently have 9 add-ons and they require some maintenance and as my life gets more and more busy every year, I am struggling to find time for that, while users ask for compatibility, translations, etc. I don’t want to let my users down. So, I’m looking for someone who is familiar with add-on development process to help me with that. Please contact me off-list if you’re interested. Typical maintenance tasks are: dealing with compatibility flags and releases, dealing with translations, optionally fixing bugs.

·       


Best regards

--Tony


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