In-Process March 21st 2022

It’s a release flurry here at NV Access. We’ve had a .4 release for 2021.3 AND not one but two betas of 2022.1 in the past few days. I thought I’d get in on the action too, with my own release of In-Process to keep you on top of all the details! Let’s get into it:

NVDA 2021.3.4

For the first time, we’ve gone not just to a .3 release, but .4! NVDA 2021.3.4 came out this past week, featuring another minor security update. Once again, exploiting this would have required physical access to the machine. Even so, we wanted to address it as soon as possible.

Please do check the NVDA 2021.3.4 release announcement for all the details and to update to NVDA 2021.3.4.

Translations and Security Updates

A quick note to all our NVDA users working in languages other than English. Because these recent point releases have been security updates, we have bypassed some processes. The reason for this is to roll out a fix before the potential exploit becomes widely known. We ask people to report security issues to us privately. This is called “Responsible Disclosure“. Once we put a fix in place for a security issue, we want to get it out into a “stable” release quickly. The normal beta period could leave an issue public for over a month before a stable fix is available. This could potentially leave users exposed. One downside to this expedited process has been translations. Documentation for recent point releases has only been available in English. If you are using another language, you may notice that the “What’s new in NVDA” document only lists up to NVDA 2021.3. The English version of the 2021.3.4 changes has all the recent developments. As we move through the beta cycle of NVDA 2022.1 this will gradually become available in other languages. Speaking of which…

NVDA 2022.1 Beta 2

We are pleased to share that NVDA 2022.1 beta 2 is now available for download and testing! For anyone who is interested in trying out what the next version of NVDA has to offer before it is officially released, we welcome you to download the beta and provide feedback.

This release includes major improvements to UIA support with MS Office. For Microsoft Office 16.0.15000 and higher on Windows 11, NVDA will use UI Automation to access Microsoft Word documents by default. This provides a significant performance improvement over the old Object model access.

There are improvements to braille display drivers including Seika Notetaker, Papenmeier and HID Braille. There are also various Windows 11 bug fixes, for apps such as Calculator, Console, Terminal, Mail and Emoji Panel.

Both eSpeak-NG and LibLouis have been updated, adding new Japanese, German and Catalan tables.

For those who missed beta 1, a nasty bug was identified – and fixed – quite quickly. As always, please do report any issues you find on GitHub. Of course, as previously noted, rather than GitHub, please Responsibly Disclose (by email) any security issues you discover.

Read the NVDA 2022.1 Beta 2 Release Announcement for all the details, and to download.

NVDA 2022.1 is an add-on breaking release

One important note about NVDA 2022.1 is that it breaks compatibility with add-ons. This means that all add-on developers will need to check their work against the beta. All add-ons will need to be checked and updated to work with NVDA 2022 releases. Developers, please see the “2022.1 Changes for developers” section of the what’s new document. This should contain all the technical information you need. Often, the required work should not be onerous, although it is important to do. If you do need any help, please do ask in the NVDA Developers email list, or contact us.

We are well aware that add-on breaking changes are frustrating. Unfortunately, this is the norm now in software development. Dependencies and tools we rely on regularly introduce breaking changes for us. We cannot afford to stay on outdated, potentially insecure, dependencies, or tools. For us to update to newer, more secure tools and dependencies, we need to roll out changes ourselves. We are working on improvements to processes to help make things easier in future. When we have introduced breaking changes in the past, we have tried to make them the first major update in a year. It is worth solidifying that statement now. From now, please expect the .1 release each year to break compatibility with add-ons. Hopefully, that gives certainty to add-on developers. Even if you don’t update your add-on for the rest of the year, please set aside time to test and update it during the .1 Beta cycle.

That’s all for this week, please do check out NVDA 2022.1 Beta 2, especially if you are an add-on author. And for everyone, do be sure to also update your stable version to NVDA 2021.3.4. Are you using Windows 11 and Office 365? What do you think of the UIA updates? Do feel free to join in the conversation in the NVDA User Group, and we’ll bring you more on the 2022.1 release shortly.