ATK/AT-SPI2 Hackfest 2012: Day 1

January 19th, 2012


Today the ATK/AT-SPI2 Hackfest 2012 started. This time there are fewer people than last year, but we have the addition of Benjamin Otte. During the morning the main topic was global events versus per-object events. Although being simplistic the idea would be just listening to the focused object, things get complex when you start to add some practical examples, like searching. On a web page, or in GNOME Shell overview, the focus is on the text entry. But when you start to search, the content of the search result changes, and you also want to expose that. This could be solved with global-events and filtering, or with direct per-object connection to “relevant” objects. If per-object is used, it is required to decide how and with which objects, to avoid missing notifications. In any case, if we decide to keep global events, the current implementation of the global event listening in ATK seems to not be the most appropriate (as it is based on g_signal add_emission_hook, that has some problems and could be considered overkill).

During the afternoon the main topic was the removal of key grabbing in GTK, or going into more detail, deprecating gtk_key_snooper_install. The controversial part was that the code using that on the accessibility support for GTK was removed. The reason is basically that key event emission shouldn’t be done there for a lot of reasons (as we already concluded during the previous hackfest), so that removal could be justified. *But* at this moment there isn’t any alternative implemented, so several things were broken. So in the end, the conclusion was reverse that change until there is an alternative. Probably this is a good task for this hackfest (anyway, any X expert over here?).

Going to dinner can be hard

Since today was the first day, we decided to keep it simple, and try to have dinner near the hotel where most of the people are staying. So after finding that our first option was closed, and wandering around for a while, we entered a place that seemed ok. Well, typical tascas in Galicia are in general not really vegetarian friendly, and although you can find really nice places (like “Taberna Gaia”), some people can still surprise yourself. Note: it doesn’t matter if macaroni are a kind of pasta. If the sauce includes meat, it is not vegetarian. Additionally, it was a bar with TV. And although it was not too loud at the beginning, it became totally noisy when the soccer match started. Yes, we forgot about the Real Madrid-Barcelona match.

Day 2 is coming

And tomorrow there will be more. We have plenty of things to discuss and bugs to solve, so for sure it will be a busy day. Finally I want to thank Igalia, GNOME Foundation and Mozilla Foundation for sponsoring this event.

GNOME FoundationMozilla Foundation

Do you want to hear some news about GNOME and accessibility?

December 23rd, 2011

Follow-up hackfest

This year we organized an ATK/AT-SPI hackfest on May at Igalia offices. Almost one year after its time to organize a follow-up hackfest. On January a new ATK/AT-SPI2 will be organized, or more in general, an Accessibility hackfest. You can see the details in the the announcement that I sent today and in the live gnome page about the Hackfest, but the summary is that a Hackfest with the target to improve the free accessibility framework will be organized this January (18-22) on Coruña, at Igalia offices. If you want to come to the hackfest put in contact with the travel committee. I want to thank GNOME Foundation and Igalia for their sponsorship.

Friends of GNOME campaign to support Accessibility

Probably you already read Juanjo Marín announcement, but just in case. GNOME has recently started a Friends of GNOME campaign in order to push the effort to make GNOME really accessible. As the campaign says “Help make 2012 the Year of Accessibility for GNOME”.

Friends of GNOME

Summer is over

October 24th, 2011

The other day I realized that the summer is over. And I realized that only one month late.

This was a really busy summer, so I will try to summarize it as it was busy but without too many posts.

Joanmarie is coming!

This was one of the last news of the summer, but it was the most important one. Although I announced the hiring some time ago, this week became effective. Last week (week 42) was the first week of Joanmarie as a igalian. Welcome to the Jungle!

Desktop summit

Again a Desktop Summit, not “just” a GUADEC. And as usual some people expressed their concerns about how effective is having two communities organizing this kind of events (example here).

In my personal case it was useful. In theory, one of the advantages to port at-spi from CORBA to DBUS (at-spi2) was that in that way at-spi could became a freedesktop technology. And finally this is starting to be true. Qt at-spi2 bridge has improved a lot during the last year. This means that more people will be looking and testing at-spi2. I was able to talk again with Frederik Gladhorn, and also met Simon developer.

GNOME 3.2 is here

Well, nothing new to add to what we all already know. Just saying that this my first GNOME release as ATK maintainer (again, thanks Li Yuan).

Unity accessibiltiy

During this summer I was also working on improving the accessibility support for Unity3D. Unfortunately all the branches with the last additions on the ATK support were not ready before the feature freeze, so Ubuntu Oneiric was released without them. For anyone interested, I created a extra-a11y ppa with a modified version of Unity with those branches integrated.

F123 & Mais Diferenças

During this summer Igalia was contacted by F123. F123 is a Brazilian project which purpose is allow the access to the education and employment opportunities using free software accessibility technologies. They are willing to help on improving the GNOME accessibility stack, and we started to define some first projects in collaboration with them during the summer (as the code already shows). I will like to thanks F123 for this effort, and I hope that this could be the starting point of several accessibility collaborations.

Joining a new band

In addition to my rock band SiVE and my participation as a student on the Jazz Ensemble from Coruña Municipal School (and playing with a GNOME T-Shirt 😉), this summer I joined a new band, “Los Wattsons”. In this case pop/rock band. Not really complex but really funny. More that 6 concerts now, and a little EP, that you can listen on Jamendo.

New Igalia hiring: Joanmarie Diggs

September 7th, 2011

I’m really proud to announce new Igalia hiring: Joanmarie Diggs

I think that I don’t require to explain too much why I’m really proud about this hiring. Forgetting biased opinions after working on accessibility stuff with Joanmarie hand-by-hand during last two years, Joanmarie is one of the most passionated free software developers that I ever meet. If you say that you know someone loving more the work that Joanmarie does, doing with more passion and effort you are probably wrong or just lying. Fact: GNOME would be worse without her.

Not too much else to say. The title itself says it all.

Doing new things: releasing and some Jazz

June 20th, 2011

Last week+weekend was really busy for this tired igalian.


Monday 13th started with my first ATK release (announcement here). Just some weeks ago I became ATK co-maintainer. Again, thanks to Li Yuan.

And then GNOME 3.1.2 release. Somewhat messy. And delayed more than one day. Announcement here. Thanks to all the release members that helped me doing the release, especially Kjartan Maraas, who was something like my tutor here.

More of that Jazz

This Saturday I made a visit to Vigo, in order to participate on the “7º Festival de Jazz de Vigo Imaxinasons” (7th Imaxinasons Vigo Jazz Festival). This is the fifth time that the Jazz band at “Escuela Municipal de Música de A Coruña” (Coruña Municipal Music School) participates on this festival.

I’m a student on this school and I joined the jazz group the last year, so I’m somehow the rookie here. This is the first time that I go to this festival. We were part of the group of bands that played on the street (as most of the concerts were the typical “in-house” concerts). So we had 4 concerts this Saturday. Hey, but we only played all the repertoire in the last one 😉 So almost 4 hours playing music. Then you add the time setting up all the stuff and then cleaning up … well it was a really busy Saturday 😛

ATK/AT-SPI2 Hackfest 2011: Day 5

May 13th, 2011

Well, I planned to make more posts about the ATK/AT-SPI2 hackfest that we are organizing here at Igalia offices, but I was really busy attending it. So we are right now on the wrap up day.

In general most of the time used on the hackfest was in order to make a full review of the agenda that we created on day 1. This hackfest was somewhat different to other hackfest I attended before. While most of those were mostly focused on coding, with some discussion and analysis, this ATK/AT-SPI2 hackfest was more discussion and analysis, with some coding. But the good new is that right now we have a better understanding of the current situation, and the next steps in the future in relation to improve ATK/AT-SPI2, and summarized on the page that originally was our agenda.

Some other things happened these days. For example, some of us (native spanish speakers) gave some accessibility talks at FIC (Coruña Computer Science Faculty). Good way to promote accessibility among computer science students. Although it is true that we didn’t have a really big amount of students on those talks. Collateral effects of doing those talks on the last month of the academic course.

Although he was not on the offices, during the hackfest Benjamin Otte started a interesting thread about the relation between GTK and ATK. In summary he thinks that the best solution to improve the current accessibility support on GTK should be the removal of ATK, merging his functionality with GTK. And AFAIK, he has also some doubts about the existence of AT-SPI2. This is similar to current Qt approach, as they don’t use ATK, although they don’t have any problem with AT-SPI2 (in summary they had an qt-bridge instead of an atk-bridge). In fact, Frederik Gladhorn, a Qt developer, was here in this hackfest, and he provided a lot of valuable proposals.

Although it is true that adding intermediate abstract layers have their cons and pros, I’m still one of the ones that thinks than the benefits are more than the drawbacks. Specifically taking into account that ATK is implemented not only by GTK+ (also Clutter, Mozilla, LibreOffice, Unity, etc). Anyway, it is an interesting thread. Lets see what we can extract from it.

Finally, you can find a group photo here (the photographer was Mario Sanchez).

Again thanks to all the sponsors, Igalia, GNOME Foundation, GPUL, Xunta de Galicia and Mozilla Foundation Inc.

ATK/AT-SPI2 Hackfest 2011: Day 1

May 9th, 2011

ATK/AT-SPI2 hackfest has started today at Igalia offices.

The first task of the morning was organize the bugs that we detected that we need to discuss on the hackfest. That was not easy, as currently our “Towards ATK 2.0″ metabug is including about 40 bugs, and we also included some items that doesn’t have an explicit bug.

In summary we mostly did a quick review of each bug, seeing how that affect different components, and trying to prioritize them. Finally we were able to get a proper Agenda.

After the lunch, and now with all the hackfest people, we started the discussion of each specific item detected on the agenda, starting with Table implementation (like stated in this bug and this other one).

In the previous picture you can see some of the people on this discussion. Left-right you can find Fernando Herrera (Firefox), Frederik Gladhorn (Qt), Alexander Surkov (Firefox), Mario (WebkitGTK) and Joanmarie Diggs (Orca). A good amount of different projects inside those brackets.

Again thanks to all the sponsors, Igalia, GNOME Foundation, GPUL, Xunta de Galicia and Mozilla Foundation Inc.

ATK Hackfest is coming!

April 29th, 2011

Just a reminder, the next GNOME hackfest will start in a little more than a week. As usual, we are organizing it on the wiki, but in summary, the tasks that will be the basis for the debate are managed by bug BG#638537.

As I explained on my previous post, the objective of this hackfest is a kind of ATK 2.0 kick off. ATK has served well during these years, but was mostly unchanged during almost ten years. After all these years it is time to use the experience from implementors and AT developers to improve it.

New sponsors

We have confirmed new sponsors to this hackfest, joining the original ones, GNOME Foundation and Igalia: GPUL and Xunta de Galicia.

GPUL supports the ATK HackFest organizing an open session about accessibility. GPUL also provides economical support. This contributions is possible thanks to the budget from the agreement between Galician Free Software Asociations and the Xunta de Galicia (Galician Regional Goverment) in 2011

In related news:

One important new from the last a11y weekly meeting.

One of the drawbacks of at-spi2 was that due lack of resources, there wasn’t any plan to create a replacement for C-SPI. That means that only pyatspi2 was available, so any AT tool that wanted to interact with at-spi2 was supposed to be written using python (note that I’m talking about the AT side, application accessibility support based on ATK is still mainly written in C).

This has changed, as one of the last changes made by Mike Gorse on how the python bindings are created is write a core C library, and use gobject introspection. So now any AT developer has libatspi available. It is not API compatible with C-SPI, and it is not planned a compatibility layer, but at least now it is in theory possible to write an AT tool in C, and any existing one would require to migrate to it.

The next step would be improve libatspi documentation, in order to upload that to GNOME developer documentation page.

Announcing ATK/AT-SPI Hackfest

March 1st, 2011

This will come as no surprise to many of you at this point, as we already talked about it during the weekly accessibility meetings, but I would like to officially announce that we are having an ATK Hackfest in May.

For the new people, ATK is the accessibility toolkit. Right now the main and more extensive implementation is GAIL (GNOME Accessibility Implementation Library), although it is also used in Clutter (Cally), Java (via the Java Access Wrapper), and others. AT-SPI is the accessibility service provider interface. Accessibility tools “uses” AT-SPI in order to interact with the applications. ATK works as the common language that target applications uses to expose themselves to AT-SPI, so a deep change on ATK would require an update also in AT-SPI. In the same way, we would like to get a one-to-one relation between the interfaces on ATK and AT-SPI as much as possible.

Applications and toolkits do not all implement ATK consistently. This has a negative impact on the assistive technologies ability to provide a consistent cross-application user experience. Even in applications and toolkits in which the ATK implementation is complete, the information obtained from a single event and/or object is not always sufficient for an AT client to proceed immediately; instead it is often necessary to perform further queries and make decisions based on heuristics rather than concrete data. This has a negative impact on both performance and reliability.

Accessibility team has come to the conclusion that this is time to improve on ATK no matters if that means an API break. The primary goal is to take what we have learned from years of ATK/AT-SPI and make things better for all involved, and create the basis of what ATK 2.0 should be.

Location: Igalia (A Coruña, Galicia, Spain)
Dates: 9-15 May

Who Should Attend?

  • Developers of applications and toolkits which implement ATK
  • Developers of ATK and AT-SPI
  • Developers of Assistive Technologies which rely upon AT-SPI
  • Developers of testing solutions which rely upon AT-SPI

For more information, including the proposed task, pre-event “homework,” venue, and associated costs, please see:

For the moment the event is sponsored by Igalia (Venue, part of the food) and the GNOME Foundation (travel+hotel costs as far as the current a11y budget allows it). If any other company want to fund this hackfest somehow, please contact me or Joanmarie Digss (and thanks in advance)

My 5th anniversary as a Igalian

January 14th, 2011

5 years ago, 13th of January 2006 I became a Igalian.

2 years earlier I had a student internship on the old offices, and it started my ‘brainwash’. Although I started to write Pascal (my first real programming language, as I don’t include my little LOGO experience when I was 10) since I was 12 years, during a lot of years I was really skeptical about this “free software thing”. And sincerely, the reason was because the first people that tried to convince me about Free Software were using this typical condescending “Free Software is just cool and will save the world from the Evil” attitude.

Whatever, forget that off-topic rant.

My first day on this internship was funny. After my first car accident I arrived to Igalia office, and Alejandro García (Alex, our beloved Igalian in the shadow) started the tutoring. “Do you know something about gtk+ ?”, “No”, “Do you know something about autotools ?” “No”, “Do you know something about glade ?” “No”, and finally with a desperate face “Do you know something about C ?” “Yes”. (Because in the end, we still have C)

The summary is that this “free software thing” was the best environment to keep doing something that I beloved since I was 12 years old: program. Decide to do a program, and with your big or small knowledge of a programing language and the remaining power of your last operative brain cells, conclude the right steps, write a program and feel satisfaction when you found that the program does what it was supposed to do, learning from other people code and sharing with them because reinventing the wheel is just a waste of time.

5 years and a internship. A long time related with free software, with a lot of projects involved. First with Fisterra. And after Fisterra, several other projects, Maemo (now Meego,) Hail, Cally, the Accessibility Team and so on.

And on the best place to do so. This post has become somewhat disperse, but remember that the title is “My 5th anniversary as a Igalian”. All this experience during those years showed me that I was not wrong about how I saw Igalia when I entered and about their advantages and philosophy. Igalia tries to obtain the real value of the workers, and share the concept of the company among all of them. They don’t work because someone give you a order, the people work because is their company.

In the end, probably this is the best idea, involve all the people. All the companies ask their workers to “work for the company”, make an extra effort as you “should think in the future of the company” without giving you any extra value or greetings. As Igalia share the responsibility, and the final purpose of Igalia is become a partner (a real igalian, in the end), you “work for the company” and “think in the future of the company” as YOU are the company.

Igalia real value is the group of people that conform that, and the synergy of these people working together. A company I’m proud of belong to.

Concluding, I’m old enough to say that I have worked 5 years for an (almost) 10 years old free software company. Some people says that 5 years on computer science is a lot of time, enough time to be obsolete, but as Jethro Tull says, I’m “Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die!”. So as my plan is not die today, lets rock and roll 5 years more!