It’s beginning to sound a lot like….
NVDA 2023.2 Beta 1
The big news this week is that Beta 1 of NVDA 2023.2 is out! NVDA 2023.2 is a huge update with lots of new features and updates. Let’s check out the highlights:
This release introduces the Add-on Store to replace the Add-ons Manager. In the Add-on Store you can browse, search, install and update community add-ons. You can now manually override incompatibility issues with outdated add-ons at your own risk.
There are new braille features, commands, and display support. There are also new input gestures for OCR and flattened object navigation. Navigating and reporting formatting in Microsoft Office is improved.
There are many bug fixes, particularly for braille, Microsoft Office, web browsers and Windows 11.
eSpeak-NG, LibLouis braille translator, and Unicode CLDR have been updated.
What is a beta?
So the new beta is out… But just what IS a beta version of NVDA anyway?
We have four main types of NVDA builds: Alpha, Beta, RC, and Stable.
Both NV Access, and our amazing community contributors constantly work on new features and fixes for NVDA. A few times a week, sometimes several times a day, a new “Alpha” build comes out. This includes the latest code which aiming for inclusion in the next version of NVDA. Code is generally in alpha for at least a couple of weeks to test. This helps ensure it is stable, does what it should, and doesn’t cause any unwanted side effects. We have dedicated users who regularly test alpha builds, and anyone is welcome to try them out. If you have reported a bug to us, we may also ask you to try out an alpha build which contains a fix for the issue. You can download alpha builds from our snapshots page.
Once all the features planned for a given release seem stable, we move to the Beta period. This is where we are currently. Beta releases contain code which has generally been in alpha for at least a few weeks. This should be stable and we encourage a wider user base to test beta releases. This is a very good time to pick up any potential issues. If any major issues are uncovered, we will endeavour to fix them and then put out a second (or third) beta.
Release Candidate (RC)
Once the beta has been out for a little while and no major issues have been reported, we go to the release candidate. This is the last step before the final release. If any major issues are uncovered, we attempt to fix these and put out a new release candidate build. We encourage all users to use the release candidate build to ensure any last minute issues are picked up. The Release Candidate is identical to the final release and will include finalized translations.
StableFinally, once the release candidate build is working well, we put out the final stable release. I would say “and then we start the process again”, except that’s not quite true. In fact, as soon as we “branch” or start the beta process, new alpha builds continue to be produced. We are already working on features and fixes aimed at the next version of NVDA. So the process doesn’t start again – it never stops!
You can always download the latest stable build of NVDA from The NVDA Downloads page
NV Access in person
Last week, the NV Access team came together in person in Melbourne. This was a rare opportunity for us to meet face to face. We are otherwise spread around the east coast of Australia, so normally meet remotely.
Among many topics covered, we had a productive discussion around the NVDA product vision. This isn’t a document anyone is expected to memorise or even be overly familiar with. The product vision should align with what most of us believe the direction and goals of NVDA to be. It can be useful when considering new major projects for NVDA. We can step back and consider who will this benefit, and what else should we consider with this? Does this feature or idea fit with the product vision?
We also got to catch up with one of the directors of NV Access, Matthew Mirabella. Although we only have a small number of staff, NV Access has a very formal and considered structure. We are an Australian Public Company, Limited by Guarantee. We are also a registered Australian charity. NV Access is overseen by a board of directors. The board ensure the direction of NV Access is consistent with our Statement of Purpose and constitution. You can find out more about NV Access and our structure on our site.
Building accessible apps
We have previously featured Guy Barker’s accessible Sudoku. He has now produced a sample to demonstrate important steps in creating accessible apps. You can learn more and try it out on Guy Barker’s GitHub page.
That’s all for this week, do please try out NVDA 2023.2 Beta 1 and let us know of any issues you find. We’ll be back again as we get closer to the final release.