Accessibility 3.0

Last week I attended a week-long meeting at the Sun offices in Dublin. The purpose of the trip was to hammer out issues with the D-Bus AT-SPI port, so that everyone can feel more confident about its readiness for Gnome 3.0.

What a great week we ended up having. I should first say thanks to all that attended, Willie Walker, Mike Gorse, Li Yuan, Ke Wang, Brad Taylor, and Rob Taylor. Sun, Novell & Codethink also need thanking. They paid for everyone to be there, some flying from China, with no foundation money involved. The Gnome community is extremely lucky to have Willie devoting his time to accessibility. I dread to think what Gnome a11y would be like without his organization and direction

Willie organized the event, I imagine more out of fear at what he found in the D-Bus AT-SPI code-base than anything else. All told I think everyone was pleasantly surprised. The project will take a-lot of work to get to the level of maturity required, but loads has already been done. What is required of us for Gnome 3.0 isn’t our of our reach.

We started the week with a very brief overview of the design for AT-SPI D-Bus. Only Mike and I had much experience with the project and we wanted to get everyone up to speed.  This very quickly turned into a Q&A session and we figured out what the main issues were on Monday afternoon. Tuesday was spent on the important task of checking the D-Bus protocol specification against both the code and the IDL spec. This bought up a number of bugs, issues and improvements. It was well worthwhile. Amazingly Wednesday & Thursday were spent hacking by everyone, which is a great feat considering that four of us had only peeked at the code previously. So much got done. Orca is now running with a fair degree of success and we can move on to performance issues and application-specific bugs. For a full run-down of the still-to-dos and what-got-dones take a look at the weeks wiki.


Outside of work was great fun also. Dublin really is a beautiful city. Lots of green spaces nice buildings and extremely friendly people. The business park is pretty swanky also, and luckily the Oracle buildings are across the road from Sun. We went out to eat and drink in Temple bar, which apparently isn’t a bar. Wednesday involved a trip to the very very small Novell offices in Dublin. They are a way out of town, Brad and I were lucky to get there at all given the distinct lack of signs and road-names that have changed since Google scraped them. We met up with Alan McGovern, a Moonlight hacker, and along with a meal and a few drinks geeked the night away.  Alberto Ruiz took us all out for a nice meal on Thursday night. I forget where it was. You’ll have to ask him for the recommendation. Later we attended the Sun Pub Quiz. Luckily for me, our arrival was just as the Quiz part was ending. I’m not so good with the questions.

Me for 3.0

What am I doing for 3.0 I hear you ask? I’m sure you didn’t but I’m going to blurt it out anyway. I’ll be finding time any-where I can to work on D-Bus accessibility. Codethink has already dedicated lots of my time to the project, and there may be a little more in the future. The accessibility plan looks a little sketchy in the road-map, but I believe that with some hard work it can become a big success for the big release.


After ranting about my work I’d love to hear what everyone else us up-to. There must me more than a few semi-secret 3.0 charges taking place.

5 thoughts on “Accessibility 3.0”

  1. For 3.0? Working on Tracker’s RDF metadata store, and SPARQL querying capability. Bringing Nepomuk as ontology to the desktop, which will be shared by both the KDE and the GNOME desktop as base ontology.

    Examples of user applications that will use this? Zeitgeist are cooperating with us to use Tracker as storage and querying backend for their software.

    Many more application developers are interested in integrating with Tracker for the same purpose.

    We’re at this moment refactoring Tracker to become two distinct things: a) a metadata storage and querying service, offering SPARQL for query plus SPARQL UPDATE for storage, implementing Nepomuk as base ontology and allowing custom ontologies to be inserted. b) An indexer acting as a metadata provider like any other, feeding the storage & query service with metadata data (just like any other application can, like some of Zeitgeist’s monitoring modules will).

  2. As for bringing the two desktops closer together, which is something I see as an aim for GNOME 3.0 too: we’re going to be using Strigi’s StreamAnalyzer library on top of our own extractors for extracting metadata from stream based I/O (files, remote resources, streamable things). Strigi (StreamAnalyzer) and Tracker will use Nepomuk, and the guys doing StreamAnalyzer are in touch with us about making sure both our own extractors and StreamAnalyzer’s analyzers pass the metadata in the same schema/ontology to the storage. Which makes them interoperate.

    We’re planning to demo and present this at our combined conferences.

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