Welcome to July! That’s right, the year is half over already. Happy Independence Day to our friends in the USA, and Happy Canada day to all our Canadian friends for last Sunday. Have fun, everybody!
As the previous In-Process hit the press, NVDA 2018.2 dropped. Soon after, a gremlin was found in the system which ate the 2018.2 translation updates for some languages. English speaking users won’t notice any difference between 2018.2 and 2018.2.1. For other languages, it was very important for us to correct the issue. If you haven’t got the latest version, be sure to Download NVDA 2018.2.1 now.
One of the problems happened to be with updating the “What’s New” file. As a result, we didn’t change it for the minor update and it still reads as 2018.2. All the changes are in there though. In case you missed it, the highlights of this release include Support for tables in Kindle for PC, support for HumanWare BrailleNote Touch and BI14 Braille displays, Improvements to both Onecore and Sapi5 speech synthesizers, improvements in Microsoft Outlook and much more. Be sure to read the What’s New for all the new and improved features and fixes!
Updated release process
The most recent release of NVDA isn’t the only exciting thing happening. We have a new release process! While this most directly affects developers and those using “Next” and “Master” builds, it is exciting for the whole project. The main goal of these changes is to remove the need for a “next” branch and pull request incubation. For those not familiar with pull requests, they are a feature of Github that allows people to contribute a collection of code changes to a project such as NVDA. The key reasons for this are:
- The next branch required manual merging of pull requests. This did not fit in well with Github’s infrastructure in that these incubation merges were not tracked very well, reverts were messy and sometimes required next to be totally re-created, pull requestss on next would frequently become conflicted with other pull requestss, which meant manually fixing conflicts in both next and master.
- Up until recently incubation was the only way we could guarantee some kind of code quality. Now we have a growing number of unit tests, system testing is well under way, and Github’s management of pull requestss (including mandatory code reviews) ensure a minimum code quality we did not have before.
- Once a pull request is approved by reviewers and all build checks pass, the pull request will be merged straight to master. There is no longer incubation on next.
- If a merged pull request results in a regression, new bug or does not work as advertised, the lead developers will be a little more strict on reverting the pull request than in the past.
- The next branch and next snapshots will no longer exist. Anyone currently on a next snapshot will be automatically updated to new “alpha” snapshots. Alpha snapshots are created directly from Master each time it changes (I.e. when a pull request is merged). As the name suggests, these snapshots are alpha quality. And although automated tests pass, these builds have had no user testing.
- Anyone currently on master snapshots will be upgraded to the first available tagged beta for the current release. Beta builds, as the name implies, are beta quality and have had some testing by users. Note that as new betas are made available you will keep automatically upgrading, and then also upgrade to the final stable release. To get back to beta testing for the next release you will need to manually download a new beta for that release.
- The snapshots page now lists both alpha snapshots and all beta releases.
See the Release Process wiki for the full process, including the new changes.
But wait, there’s more! We’ll even throw in a NEW WEBSITE! That’s right, the shiny new revamp of the NV Access website that we’ve been teasing and promising for months is now live. There are still some fixes and finishing touches to be done, but overall, it is a much more modern look. Not only will this enhance our branding and our visibility in the mainstream community, but it will better showcase the important work that we do. The new site is also more mobile friendly. If you haven’t been to https://www.nvaccess.org/ lately, check it out and let us know what you think!
Audio described video
Earlier this year, NV Access launched a short video on the impact NVDA has had on users around the world. The positive feedback on the video has been incredible! More than that, it helps raise awareness of the life-changing impact NVDA has. The impact of access to computers for people with no prior access to technology.
If you haven’t yet seen the video, you can check it out on our YouTube channel.
We also have a longer, 12-minute version of the video. Our intention is to promote this to organisations and governments around the world. Illustrating the benefits of NVDA enables us to work with people on the ground, to get it to those who can benefit. Before we do that, we would like to have the video audio described, to ensure it is accessible to everyone. To do that, we’d like your help, please! The 12-minute video is on YouDescribe, a service which crowd-sources audio description. We are asking supporters with sight to donate some time to help describe the video. This will help us promote the incredible benefit that NVDA can provide to those who most need it.
To help, go to Youdescribe.org and investigate their information for describers, to get a feel for what is involved.
Then head to our video to help describe it!
16th annual ICCHP conference
Finally, for this edition, we’re sending Mick and Reef out in public again, this time to Austria. The 16th International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs is July 11-13. Mick has been invited to deliver a keynote presentation on the amazing impact of NVDA. The invitation is a great honour, and NV Access is very appreciative and excited to have the opportunity to attend.
That’s all for this time. There are a lot of exciting things going on and we are really grateful to have you sharing our journey!