Re: [orca-list] Another Suggestion for OpenOffice/Orca Improvement

Hi all,

I found the Hands-on-Lab materials from the course I took, on-line.  Please see - this lab is used not just at JavaOne, but also at the various Sun TechDays we run worldwide (which is why it is archived in the Tech Days site).

The lab is focused on use via our open source NetBeans IDE, complete with a special NetBeans plug-in/wizard that makes speeds the process of making plug-ins - and debuggable in the NetBeans debugger (you can set a breakpoint in the plugin, and then examine variables, etc. in the debugger).

That said, I believe all of the libraries and APIs are available from the command line as well, and also can be used with the Eclipse IDE.  I understand from Willie and the NetBeans team that there hasn't been much work yet on explicit Orca interoperability with NetBeans, so Orca users may not find NetBeans to be a particularly productive or efficient a programming environment today.  I know from the java-access mailing list that many blind users (primarily via JAWS) report good results with Eclipse, which uses native GUI widgets in Windows GTK+ widgets in UNIX environments.  As such Eclipse it may be a good choice today for Orca users as well.

Separately, IDEs in general are some of the most visually and structurally GUI intensive apps I've encountered.  A typical workflow has the content region split up into 4 or more panes, with the source code pane itself a tabbed list of all of the source files you have open.  I suspect there is a lot of research and experimentation needed in order to make these complex IDEs into efficient and productive programming environments generally for blind users.  As an aside, there is still a core of grizzled UNIX hackers at Sun who stick with vi/emacs as the core of their programming environment - even if they are writing in Java - and programming from the command line is still very much supported.


Peter Korn
Accessibility Architect,
Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Hi Bertil, Krishnakant, listers,

Existing extensions are available for download from (sorted by OOo application at:  I took a quick look, and didn't see any that already offer alternative keyboard navigation for Writer documents. 

For developing your own extensions, see the OOo wiki on this topic:

Python programmers should see and Java programmers should see (info on using Java from Eclipse and NetBeans is included).

You can find source code for sample extensions at: (and specifically examples written in Java at:

I've asked whether the contents of the Hands-on-Lab are published anywhere; they used different examples than I've found poking about the sample source pages.  I'll send an update if/when I get it.

Note: other than going through the lab, I haven't done anything further myself, so I am no expert in creating extensions!


Peter Korn
Accessibility Architect,
Sun Microsystems, Inc.

On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 10:16:11PM -0700, Peter Korn wrote:
Hi Janina,

OOo Writer has keyboard functionality for navigation by paragraph: 
Ctrl-Up/Down arrow.  Add shift to select.  For deleting lines, Home 
followed by shift up/down arrow will select lines you can then delete.

Not the same - and in many cases not as fast - as vi.  But in case you 
didn't already know about these...

Separately, I just took a "Hands on Lab" class at the recent JavaOne 
conference, where I learned about writing extensions - 
specifically Java using NetBeans.  One option for folks wanting more 
vi/emacs-style (or WordPerfect style, for that matter) keyboard gestures 
would be to write an OOo Writer extension to encapsulate just that 
functionality.  This should be a far easier task that trying to modify 
the actual OOo codebase itself.  I haven't dug into the details of 
making keyboard gesture modifications (the lab covered adding menu 
items, dialog boxes, file translators/converters, and adding smart 
tags), but it appears that most of the object model is exposed to 
extension writers.
That all sounds very promising. Where can one find more information?



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