Re: [g-a-devel]Proposed implementation agnostic GNOME Speech API.

Hi Mario, Bill, gang,

Mario wrote (in the single quote):
I also have a question here.  Why is it that Gnopernicus uses such a
complicated layer of keys.  Being new to the program it makes it quite
difficult to use.  I wonder if this could be changed?
>> ...

The alternatives are:

 1. have far fewer commands available by default
 2. use Ctrl/Shift/Alt-keypad combinations instead of layers
 3. use Function keys or them main keyboard with Ctrl/Shift/Alt combinations

Of these, I think really only option #2 is worth considering.
From past experiences with other screen reading products,
option #2 is doomed to fail in the long run IMO.
I see two immediate disadvantages:
1. Computer newbie users generally have a hard time coping
   with complicated key-combinations.  They are hard
   to remember, and cumbersome to press.
   Also, reember that a screen reader user will have to use
   the screen reading commands quite often, so having to press
   some more or less complicated key-combo will slow him down.
2. If you use Ctrl/Alt/Shift modifiers on normal keyboard
   keys to create screen reader bindings, your bindings will
   at some point collide with shortcuts defined in some
   application the user is running.

It is of course acceptable to bind certain commands to
Ctrl/Alt/Shift+something combinations, but those should
be very carefully chosen, and perhaps only by the user himself.

And then Bill:
#2 however has the distinct disadvantage of clashing with commonly-used GNOME keybindings.

It might be worth investigating whether we can use less-common modifier keys, such as the
'Windows' key, etc. in conjunction with numpad or arrow keys, for some functions.

It also might make sense to use the Function keys (with a modifier, say Ctrl-F1, etc.) to
switch gnopernicus 'modes' or 'layers', and the use numpad/arrow keys (possibly
with shift/alt/etc.) for gnopernicus-specific navigation within that 'layer'.  This might have the potential
for less conflict with GNOME keybindings, while retaining the convenience of the number pad
for the most frequent gnopernicus command keys.

I think you guys may have misunderstood me.

Mario - your comment about newbies potentially having problems with modifier key combinations is well taken. However, it seems both of you may have missed the fact that I'm suggesting modifier key combinations *only* with the numeric keypad. I'm not aware of any application that would collide with Ctrl-NumPad-1 (any more so than colliding with NumPad-1 for example).

I think the only real concern is the newbie concern. Perhaps the caliber of users coming from Windows/JAWS is different than what I remember from the outSPOKEN days (Macintosh and Windows). In both of those products we used the numeric keypad with modifiers. I'm not aware of any significant level of tech support calls about those combinations. In fact, my recollection is that outSPOKEN was prasied for how intuitive its user interface was (Macintosh and Windows), and how users coming back to it after using other products found themselves working productively inside of 10 minutes, where it took them far longer to remember the key commands of other screen readers when the moved (back and forth) to those.

The key, of course, is in designing a set of key commands that make a high degree of logical sense. I think that was one of the accomplishments of Marc Sutton and Josh Miele in the design of the outSPOKEN for Windows key command scheme.

Also, it seems to me to make more logical sense to say that Braille is the ALT key (for example), and magnification is Ctrl and Shift-Ctrl than it is to say that these are layers 9, 6, and 7 respectively.


Peter Korn
Sun Accessibility team

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