Announcing Office Desk: a new add-on to improve support for Microsoft 365 apps


 

Hi all,

I’m delighted to announce a new add-on project specifically designed for Microsoft 365 users in mind: Office Desk, a new add-on designed to provide improved support for Microsoft Office applications. Borrowing concepts from Windows App Essentials, this add-on consists of a global plugin and a collection of app modules for Office apps such as Excel, Word, Access and others.

The goal of Office Desk project is to serve as a collaborative add-on development project where users and developers of Office applications can bring needed fixes and enhancements. Although I’m starting this project with a couple fixes for Word and an enhancement across office apps, I envision a team of users and developers working on this project, with me serving as initial coordinator and release manager. Eventually I envision parts of the new add-on project becoming part of NVDA Core when the code matures. As this is a new experience for me (leading a team of developers instead of mentored by more experienced developers), I expect some things to work through in the beginning but I think the collaborative approach in add-on development will provide a better experience.

As a starter, Office Desk includes the following fixes and enhancements:

  • In Office backstage view, NVDA will announce suggestions count when searching for recently opened files, and you can use up or down arrow keys to review suggestions. This resolves NVDA issue 13772.
  • In Word 365, NVDA will no longer announce format commands such as bold and italic on/off multiple times. This resolves NVDA issue 10950.
  • In Word 365, NVDA will announce labels in places such as address fields in envelopes dialog. This resolves NVDA issue 14156, first reported on this forum a few days ago.

The first beta build is now available for you to test:

https://github.com/josephsl/officeDesk/releases/download/dev/officeDesk-20220918-dev.nvda-addon

 

Important notes:

  • Office Desk requires Windows 10 and later and NVDA 2022.2 and later. Office Desk will present an error dialog if you are using an older Windows release when attempting to install it.
  • For best experience, Office 2016 and later or latest Microsoft 365 version is required (any Office application with version 16.0 will work best). Although Office 2013 might work, I cannot guarantee it, and that version of Office is nearing end of support.
  • To see fixes in action, ask NVDA to use UI Automation in Word (NVDA Settings/Advanced; you must check the checkbox first before modifying the mentioned setting); wording may differ between NVDA releases.
  • Due to implementation of Word 365 fixes, this add-on will conflict with Word Access add-on developed by PaulBer19. It might be possible to solve Word 365 issues without introducing conflict with Word Access add-on but that may require changing NVDA internals, making the resulting fix unpredictable and may cause stability issues when using Word and outlook.
  • Office Desk add-on does not include Outlook Extended add-on so you can use both add-ons at the same time.

 

If things go well, I hope to release the stable version of Office Desk add-on in October.

Cheers,

Joseph

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