Orca SEVERE Firefox regression independent of (was Re: is now crashing Firefox 3.0)

Hi All:

I noticed Firefox crashing as well. The Firefox folks seem to have introduced a severe regression between Saturday and Sunday: Firefox crashes regardless of whether Orca is running or not. The main crash in Firefox that I'm experiencing is when I just happen to click on a link. If you revert back to Saturday's nightly, the problem goes away:


As an aside...

I've noticed people talking about the perceived instability of Orca itself, and I feel compelled to make a slight perception adjustment. Orca typically keeps running along when working with well behaved applications. The main barriers to accessibility are when something goes awry in the AT-SPI infrastructure or an application. The two main things that can go awry are either an application hanging or an application crashing. Due to the implementation of the AT-SPI, if an application hangs, it can hang an assistive technology and/or the entire accessibility infrastructure (and thus the desktop). Orca has some defensive mechanisms in it for hangs, but it cannot always detect all hangs. As such, when an application is behaving poorly, we sometimes have the paradoxical requirement of needing to restart Orca to recover from poor application behavior.

In my experiences, crashing applications are due to bugs in the application and/or toolkit that the application uses. That is, when an application crashes, I'm usually pretty confident that there's not a bug in Orca that caused the crash. Instead, it's typically a legal AT-SPI call from Orca that's causing a bug in the application/toolkit/AT-SPI to manifest itself in a catastrophic way. When faced with these crashes, however, we will do the following:

1) Track the problem down. Can we avoid tickling the bug in the application/toolkit/AT-SPI? If so, we try to implement defensive and avoidance strategies in Orca itself. A recent extreme example includes not looking at tooltips because examining tooltips through legal AT-SPI calls would cause the application to crash.

2) Whether we can work around the problem or not, we log a bug with the application, toolkit, and or AT-SPI infrastructure team. We also pester them to make sure they fix the problem. In the event that they don't fix the problem, we go into their code and fix it for them and plead with them to take our patch. This represents a considerable time sink for us, but someone has to do it.

From an end user standpoint, I realize a crash is a crash and you don't care. But, *I* care about the perception people have of Orca itself. We're a very hard working team and it hurts a little bit when I see Orca taking the blame for failures in other components. I do have to remind myself that's what happens when you are on top of the food chain - you get ill when your food sources become toxic.

The good thing is that maintainers of the application, toolkit, and AT-SPI infrastructure components really do care about accessibility. Moving forward, we're working step by step to encourage component maintainers to test their changes for accessibility regressions before committing them. This represents a cultural shift, and is thus something that will not happen overnight.

(Orca Project Lead)

Lorenzo Taylor wrote:
Hash: SHA1

I just installed the latest nightly build of FireFox 3.0.  Imagine my
surprise when I found out that Orca is now somehow crashing FireFox.
This is the FireFox dated March 10 and Orca from svn as of a couple of
days ago since nothing of consequence has been changed since then other
than the staroffice script and some translations.  I have only gotton 1
page to display without crashing, and that page has no links; it's just
text, and only about 3 lines of text.  Other pages either crash
immediately or wait until I move the flat review cursor or press the tab
or arrow keys.  I blindly tried a google search without Orca and when I
started Orca again I found everything worked as expected while Orca
wasn't running.  However, once I started Orca again and found that the
search results page had loaded, at least according to the title and then
pressed a flat review key, FireFox crashed and burned.  Is this a known
issue at this time that is in the process of being fixed in either
FireFox or Orca in the near future?  I was really enjoying my new-found
freedom to visit more sites using FireFox.

Live long and prosper,
- -- I've always found anomalies to be very relaxing. It's a curse.
- --Jadzia Dax: Star Trek Deep Space Nine (The Assignment)
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