Friday, December 7, 2012

IServiceProvider implementation in Firefox

In Firefox every MSAA accessible object implements IServiceProvider interface which is used to obtain different accessible objects that are in connection to the given one. The idea of IServiceProvider is quite close to IAccessible2/ATK relation concept but it operates on different set of relation types. It has IServiceProvider::QueryService method which is defined as:

  HRESULT QueryService(
      REFGUID guidService,
      REFIID riid,
      void **ppv

guidService identifies the accessible object you need, riid is an interface the object should be queried to.

In Firefox we support the following guid services:

IID_IAccessibleApplication  to get an IAccessible2 application accessible implementing IAccessibleApplication interface.

SID_IAccessibleContentDocument = { 0xa5d8e1f3,0x3571,0x4d8f,{0x95,0x21,0x07,0xed,0x28,0xfb,0x07,0x2e} } a Firefox specific service used to get a tab document the accessible object belongs to.

IID_IAccessibleEx used to obtain UIA IRawElementProviderSimple instance. It works under "accessibility.uia.enable" preference.

Also we support IID_ISimpleDOMNode, IID_IAccessible and IID_IAccessible2 as guid services but they are basically query interfaces and they return the same object as query interface does.

Note, all said above works in Firefox 16 and later. Prior to Firefox 16 we used to have a different logic that allowed tricks like


to get an application accessible. It's not possible anymore. Please double check your code if you rely on IServiceProvider::QueryService.

Monday, December 3, 2012

ISimpleDOM support

As you probably know Firefox implements ISimpleDOM interfaces to provide a MS COM access to DOM in the browser. IE maintains similar interfaces. In accessibility world they were used to workaround lacks of MSAA API. Early days screen readers didn't have a choice how to make the browser accessible and they were DOM based.

Years later after IAccessible2 and UIA appeared the ISimpleDOM interfaces got obsolete. A bright demo of this statement is the NVDA screen reader which doesn't rely on ISimpleDOM at all and works nicely with Firefox. Nonetheless periodically I hear that ISimpleDOM is still very useful for AT. As a rule this opinion comes from proprietary screen reader vendors so I don't really aware of details. We trust them and we continue to support ISimpleDOM. However we don't recommend anyone to use ISimpleDOM.

We consider ISimpleDOM as optional API and thus we think that our support of it shouldn't affect on AT software that don't rely on ISimpleDOM. As a first part of this idea the ISimpleDOMNode interface was implemented as a tear off. That means whenever you query ISimpleDOMNode interface you always get a new instance implementing this interface. That allows us to save 4 bytes per accessible object and that was good for memory usage. The change was landed on Firefox 20.

We didn't find any problems during testing stage but if you would like to give it a spin, please try a nightly build. Especially it makes sense if you are developer of AT software relying on ISimpleDOM. Please let us know if you have concerns.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Accessible Mozilla: Tech overview of Firefox 19


ARIA spec enriched by test suite so lately we've got reported a lot about ARIA problems in Firefox. On that wave we improved a little bit our ARIA support. You can check out this wiki to see how we do on ARIA test suite failures.

* ARIA role="rowgroup" is a strong role now, in other words it overrides native role, and it is mapped as grouping role into accessibility APIs (ATK_ROLE_PANEL on ATK, NSAccessibilityGroupRole on OS X, ROLE_SYSTEM_GROUPING on MSAA/IA2). See bug for details.

* When ARIA role="tab" gets selected within containing role="tablist" then selection event (EVENT_SELECTION on MSAA / "selection_changed" on ATK) is fired on the tablist, see bug for more info.

* Inherited role="presentation" is now ignored if the element has global ARIA attribute or relation. For example:

  <table role="presentation">
      <td aria-hidden="true" id="cell">cell1</td>
      <td aria-labelledby="cell1">cell2</td>

HTML td elements "cell1" and "cell2" have both a generic accessible, "cell3" is not accessible (its text leaf it is of course). See bug for more info.

* ARIA menu item containing a sub menu (i.e. having aria-haspopup attribute) is exposed as ATK_ROLE_MENU on Linux, see bug for more info.

* Previously we rejected to use values of ARIA slider, spinbutton and scrollbar in name computation. For example:

  <input id="input">
  <label for="input">
    foo <span role="slider" aria-valuetext="middle"> foo</span>

Expected name for "input" accessible is "foo middle foo". Refer to bug for more info.


* A document accessible picks up object attributes from container (like iframe element) provided by ARIA markup only. Previously we used to propagate object attributes like "class", "id" or "xml-roles" to the document. That didn't make huge sense but it's behavioral change and you might want to be aware of it. See bug for more info.

* New "explicit-name" object attribute was introduced as a part of ongoing IAccessible2 1.3 spec. This attribute is exposed with "true" value when the author specified accessible name explicitly (for example, by HTML label element). Otherwise this attribute is omitted (for example, when name is computed from subtree like in case of <button>press me</button> or there's no accessible name at all like <p>it's a paragraph</p>). See bug for more info.


A document accessible doesn't inherit ARIA role from container anymore. This behavior was introduced a long time ago to let the author to change a role of 3d party ARIA widget. This approach added certain problems for web developers:
  • If the author applies a navigation landmark on the iframe then Firefox copies it over the role of the child document.
  • If the author has actually set a role on the child document contained within the iframe and the author had applied a role to it (such as role="application") it will be overridden.
So behavior opposite to what we do is wanted actually. Also we didn't have a good idea whether our behavior is used anywhere on the web, thus we decided to change. Refer to bug for more info.


If XUL deck panel is not selected then all its children expose invisible state (instead offscreen state as we used to do). The problem has been seen in Firefox "About dialog" where hidden elements used for different update statuses of the browser had offscreen state and that made them discoverable for screen reader users. This was regression from Firefox 18 (note, the fix was backported to Firefox 18). See bug for details.


* HTML5 progress element is a subject of value change events now, similar to ARIA progressbar role (thanks to James Kitchener for fixing this one). See bug for more info.

* When the user clicks a link then state_change event for traversed state (ATK_STATE_VISITED on ATK,  STATE_SYSTEM_TRAVERSED on MSAA) is fired on the link accessible. See bug for more info.

* When the user clicks a link to download a file then we used to fire state_change event for busy:true state (ATK_STATE_BUSY on ATK, STATE_SYSTEM_BUSY on MSAA) on document accessible but we never fired concomitant state_change event for busy:false state. The issue was fixed. Refer to bug for details.

Zoom level

Finally all zoom level work was finished in Firefox 19. Before that we didn't respected a zoom level in accessibility APIs implementation, for example, methods operating on coordinates and size didn't take into account whether the web page was zoomed or not. That made us, for example, to return a wrong accessible in hit testing. Primarily it was a problem for screen magnifiers and it was pulled from Firefox 4 times. Refer to bug for more info.

Random notes

We dropped obsolete xlink support on HTML elements. Previously we used to expose them as accessible actions. Generic Xlink support has gone in Firefox for years ago so we just dropped a vain baggage (see bug for more info).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mozilla XForms has gone

XTF and XML events are removed from Firefox (see this and this) and that's supposed to be a last day of Mozilla XForms project which was built on these technologies. Mozilla XForms was nearly dead for a while and it was kept alive by Philipp Wagner. Now it's over. So we decided to remove XForms accessibility support from Firefox.

XForms was a project that my Mozilla story has started from. I worked for a local company in the city I live. They created Mozilla based applications and in particular they were interested in Mozilla XForms. XForms was a really promising technology since it supported natively a model view pattern and provided a nice mechanism to map data to UI. However Mozilla based applications were written in XUL but Mozilla XForms didn't have XUL UI those days. So they decided to put me working on Mozilla XForms project to fix that. That's how I've met XForms guys: Allan Beaufour, Aaron Reed and Olli Pettay.

Year later I was moved to another project. I had a chat to Allan and I said that I'm really upset that I can't spend much time on the project anymore. After several days Allan asked: Do you still want to continue your work? I said: Of course. He said: there's an idea to make XForms accessible, I will introduce you to one guy. That's how I've met Aaron Leventhal and that's how my Mozilla accessibility story has started.

Note (just in case): XTF and XML Events were removed in Firefox 19. Firefox 17 and Firefox 18 aren't affected. That means next ESR release is not affected too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Accessible Firefox: Text equivalent computation

Each accessible object may have name and description, a primary characteristic used for perceivability of the control element by the user (also referred as text equivalent). As far as I know only ARIA spec provides an algorithm of text equivalent computation. It might look strange that ARIA specifies an universal algorithm equally applicable to any markup (would it be HTML or anything else) but that's how it is. Other specs either don't address that or like  HTML spec are referred to the ARIA one. Each browser follows that algorithm this or that way.

Algorithm implemented in Firefox isn't 1 to 1 with ARIA's one but it is quite close to the version from ARIA first draft. Basically that version was written from Firefox implementation. ARIA was evaluated, Firefox was evaluated too but not always in sync with ARIA.

I realized that Firefox algorithm isn't documented anywhere so I decided to put it here to not make people read the code if they are curious about Firefox behavior. Note, Firefox might do a slightly different computations on case by case basis. In general these should considered as bugs. However this algorithm is not free from bugs as well. Let me know if you see anything suspicious.


Here is a list of used terms in algorithm description:
initial node
the DOM node the text equivalent is computed for;
current node
the DOM node currently traversed in order to compute the text equivalent for initial node;
text equivalent string
the text equivalent we have computed up until we have arrived at the current node;
string attribute
attribute whose value provides a text equivalent, for example, aria-label in case of name computation;
relation attribute
IDRefs attribute referred to other element(s) used in text equivalent computation, for example, aria-labelledby in case of name computation;
empty on purpose text equivalent
text equivalent left empty on purpose by the author, AT shouldn't try to repair it.


To compute the text equivalent for current node:
  1. Prepend a space if necessary: if the current node is not inline element (refer to CSS display style), append a space character if the text equivalent string is not empty.
  2. Compute the text equivalent for the current node and append it to text equivalent string:
    1. If the node is hidden and it's not a part of computation initiated by relation attribute (in other words, it's not referred by or it's not a child of hidden element referred by relation attribute) then, skip the node. ⤴
    2. If the node is a text node, then append the rendered text content if the node is not hidden, otherwise its append text content. Proceed to the next node. ⤴
    3. Append text equivalent from ARIA markup if any, otherwise append it from native markup:
      1. If text equivalent is provided by string attribute then append its value. If string attribute value is empty and the text equivalent won't be provided later by the algorithm then text equivalent is considered empty on purpose.
      2. If text equivalent is provided by relation attribute, and this node is not already part of text equivalent calculation, then within the relation attribute value, process the IDs in the order they occur and ignore IDs in that are not specified on an element in the document. For each ID's associated element, implement this text equivalent computation starting with step 1, appending the results to the text equivalent string as they are collected.⟲
    4. If the node is not initial node or if it's recursively reentered initial node but it's not the fist or last part of a text equivalent computation then append the current user-managed value of this node.
    5. If the text equivalent for this node is empty, and either the node's role allows "text equivalent from subtree" or the node is not a control and not the initial node, then recursively implement this algorithm for each child, starting with step 1.⟲
    6. If the text equivalent for this node is still empty, get it from tooltip for the current node if any.
  3. Append space if the space was added at step 1.
  4. Normalize whitespace, trimming leading and trailing space and condense other whitespace characters into a single space.

Remarks and examples

Item c.

Text equivalent computation from ARIA and native markup is nicely covered by HTML to a11y spec.

Nevertheless as example of a native markup text equivalent can be alt attribute for HTML <img> or a label from <label for> for control element. However, markup for tooltips is not used as native markup text equivalent, they are used as a last resort under item f.

In general name and description don't dupe each other so that if some markup was used as name then it won't be reused as description. For example,

  <img title="Me and Eiffel Tower">

Name is "Me and Eiffel Tower", description is empty.


  <img alt="I'm in France" title="Me and Eiffel Tower">

Name is "I'm in France", description is "Me and Eiffel Tower".

Item c.i. 

Example of empty on purpose name is <img alt="">.

Item c.ii. 

Example of relation attribute processing:

  <button aria-labelledby="span" id="btn" />
  <button aria-labelledby="btn" id="btn2" /> 
  <span id="span">text</span>  

@id="btn" name is "text", aria-labelledby is processed since we don't have reentrances.
@id="btn2" doesn't have a name, aria-labelledby on @id="btn" is ignored because otherwise it would mean reentrance (@id="btn2" aria-labelledby brought us here).

Note, if the recursion only produces white space then we proceed to the next item of the algorithm. For example

  <span id="span"></span>
  <button aria-labelledby="span">press me</button>

Name of button element is "press me". The rule is also applicable to item e.

Item d.

1. By user-managed value we assume the value of accessible object. In HTML <input> case it's built from value attribute. In case of ARIA that will be aria-valuetext for example.

2. If the current node is initial node then value is not included.

  <div role="slider" aria-valuetext="right in the middle"></div>
Name is empty for ARIA slider.

3. But if the current node is not initial node then value is included.

  <label for="input">
    <div role="slider" aria-valuetext="right in the middle">
  <input id="input" type="checkbox">

Name of the checkbox is "Position right in the middle".

4. If the current node is the initial node and it was reentered then:

a. If the node is in middle of text equivalent computation then its value is included.

     Subscribe to

Name for select is "Subscribe to ATOM feed".

b. If node is not in the middle of text equivalent computation then value is omitted.

  <label>Home page: <input type="text"></label>

Name for input is "Home page:".

Monday, October 29, 2012

ARIA payback

I'm not a real part of ARIA spec development but I work with assistive technology vendors and ARIA widgets authors on ARIA support in Firefox, I'm the one who implements ARIA in Firefox. I'm focused on practical aspects of ARIA usage and often I deal with problems not addressed by ARIA spec.

Here how it usually works. We and AT developers discuss a problem and then after agreement we implement just a reasonable solution that works for AT, users and us. We don't always go for a feedback from ARIA group and actually I think there's a number of reasons why. Personally I don't go probably because
  • I think somebody else could do that since it was a group decision after all.
  • I don't always get feedback from ARIA group.
  • ARIA group is perceived as a closed group (I always run into restricted areas the other participants are referred to).
  • ARIA group structure feels complicated (there are two ARIA specs managed differently and when you have a single ARIA issue then sometimes you should go though different authorities to get a feedback).
I think it's because I didn't have a really good story of collaboration with ARIA group.

On the another hand I don't follow the ARIA spec progress. I didn't see changelogs between spec versions. I wasn't really asked for feedback as ARIA implementator in Firefox. Because all of this many changes in the spec were introduced silently for me. I don't want to blame anyone (including myself) I just want to say that ARIA spec development was in parallel universe for me.

Yes, it couldn't be forever, one day Firefox implementation should meet the spec on the crossing and we should get a bump. This day have came. ARIA spec came into candidate recommendation and we were said Firefox don't pass tests. While I was running through failing tests one by one then I realized I have concerns for half of them. It wasn't a really big surprise but I disagreed what ARIA spec states in a number of cases. Here are few examples when I had concerns.

1) ARIA abstract roles must be not exposed via standard role mechanism (see the ARIA spec):
User agents MUST NOT map roles defined in the WAI-ARIA specification as "abstract" via the standard role mechanism of the accessibility API.
It seems very reasonable since there's *no* any single reason why the AT would need it. But the statement might be colored differently if you read it as implementator. If the browser exposes only known and "good" ARIA roles then the browser is in good shape and it goes with the spec. The browser can do different approach and expose all ARIA roles (not depending whether they are known or unknown) and let the AT to decide what to do with them. You can argue whether this is a good idea or not but it can be used in the wild, for example, by scripted JAWS and certain web apps (in this case the browser is just a mediator between web app and screen reader). Also the spec doesn't deny that.

However if the browser follows this approach then we run into a problem because the browser must known about abstract roles to ignore them. Abstract roles are pure theoretical matter used to organize stuff in the spec, it's *not supposed* to be used on the web and it *won't* be used on the web but the browser *must* know about them if the browser relies on "expose any role" approach. In reality it slows down the browser for nobody's win. Ok, it's a browser problem. ARIA problem I think is the ARIA spec tries to standardize things that *aren't* supposed to be used on the web what is meaningless in general.

2) aria-checked="mixed" on radios should be mapped to "false" value (see the ARIA spec):
The mixed value is not supported on radio or menuitemradio or any element that inherits from these in the taxonomy, and user agents MUST treat a mixed value as equivalent to false for those roles.
I agree mixed value on radios don't make any sense since radios don't support tristate. But the "false" value is not a fallback value on radios. That means the browser *must* introduce a special check for the case that doesn't have *practical* usage on the web.

The problem is the candidate recommendation means nobody wants to change the spec at this point especially if it's implemented by some browsers already. It doesn't really make sense to address any issue listed above in the next spec since they don't make a difference on the web. It wouldn't be so bad to just follow the spec if we didn't have other discrepancies especially those that *make* a difference for the user.

The reality is either Firefox picks up that burden wordlessly or it gets an yoke of the browser incompatibility with the spec. No good options, huh?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Raiffeizen strikes back

It's a second time when Raiffeizen leaves me without money for a week. I have a bank card in Raiffeizen, an European bank. When card expires then they issue a new one but before they deliver it to me they block my existing card. They said they take care of safety of my funds and I guess I can't disagree with them: when I can't spend my money then money are safe.

They said they keep new card blocked until it's delivered to me. Also they said the new and current card have identical numbers and therefore they don't differentiate them. That's why my existing card is blocked too.

Of course they are so friendly so that they agree to unblock my card for one transaction if I stay on phone line. Say if I need to buy something and I wait in line in the supermarket then I need to call them, maybe wait for 15 minutes before they answer to me and ask them to unblock my card and greetings I can do a payment. It's also funny that I need to identify myself answering all secret questions and I need to do that when I'm surrounded by people.

They really drives me mad.

Вот уже второй раз когда Райффайзен подкладывает мне свинью, блокируя мою карту. Когда срок действия карты истекает, они выпускают новую, но пока новая карта не передана мне в руки, они блокируют мою действующую карту. Они говорят, что беспокоятся о сохранности моих средств, и я не могу не согласиться с ними: если я не могу потратить денег, то они защищены надежно. От меня, конечно.

Сказали, что новая карта заблокирована пока я ее не получил. Но потому как новая и старая карты имеют одинаковые номера и они их в действительности не различают, то моя действующая карта тоже заблокирована.

Конечно, они идут навстречу и позволяют мне разблокировать мою карту на одну транзакцию, пока я остаюсь на телефонной линии. Скажем, мне понадобилось что-нибудь купить и я стою в очереди на кассу в супермаркете. Мне нужно позвонить им, возможно подождать минут 15 пока они ответят и попросить их разблокировать карту. И - вуаля - я могу совершить покупку. Забавно еще то, что мне необходимо, конечно, идентифицировать себя, отвечая всякие секретные вопросы, пока я стою в очереди, окруженный людьми.

Они действительно издеваются.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Firefox 16 - 18: what's new for AT developers

This summer wasn't super plenteous for features interesting for assistive technology developers. Firefox 17 was nearly barren in this sense. Thus here's a list of changes introduced in Firefox 16, Firefox 17 and Firefox 18.


(Firefox 16) ARIA documents are now subject of document loaded event. If the author does something like:

  <div id="dialog" role="dialog" style="display: none;">A message</div>
  document.getElementById("dialog").style.display = "block";

then LOAD_COMPLETE event is fired after the dialog appears (refer to document handling in Firefox for details).

(Firefox 17) We sorted out stuff related with vertical and horizontal states.  Previously we could expose these states on the same accessible the same time regardless the value of aria-orientation attribute or expose them on elements that orientation is not applied to. Also ARIA role="scrollbar" got vertical state as default value.

(Firefox 18) If ARIA grid contains role="rowgroup" then IAccessibleTable interface went crazy, i.e. row/col/cell indexes coherence was broken.

(Firefox 18) aria-activedescendant behavior was corrected a bit. We have supported the case the spec says about: "Authors MAY use the aria-activedescendant attribute on the focused descendant of a composite widget; for example, on a textbox descendant of a combo box." This is an example these words are applicable to.

  <div id="combobox" role="combobox">
    <input id="combobox_entry" />
      <li id="combobox_option1" role="option">option1</li>
      <li id="combobox_option2" role="option">option2</li>

If the input has DOM focus and the author changes the aria-activedescendant attribute on combobox element to point a combobox option then that combobox option gets the focus.

(Firefox 18) If ARIA role="presentation" is used on the element having ARIA global attributes or referred by ARIA relation then role="presentation" is ignored as it wasn't there. The behavior is similar if the element is focusable.


(Firefox 16) HTML5 article element is a subject of 'article' xml-roles object attribute.

Also we fixed few edge cases. Btw, they all were caught in the wild.

(Firefox 18) We didn't create a listitem accessible for HTML li element in some cases like:

  <ul id="list7">
    <li id="l7_li1" style="display:inline-block;">Oranges</li>
    <li id="l7_li2" style="display:inline; float: right;">Apples</li>

(Firefox 18) Table related styles used outside the table context prevented to create a correct accessible. For example,

  <h1 style="display: table-cell;">a header</h1>

didn't have a heading accessible.


(Firefox 18) Finally we sorted out invisible/offscreen states and the implementation corresponds to what I wrote before.

(Firefox 18) Some offscreen accessible didn't expose the offscreen state. You could see this bug at ai squared site.

Text attributes

(Firefox 16) auto-generated text attribute is supported now (refer to IAccessible2 spec). It's get exposed for auto generated CSS content (:after and :before pseudo elements) and HTML list bullets. Note, we don't expose the auto-generated object attribute anymore.


(Firefox 16) defaultKeyBinding attribute and getKeyBindings method of nsIAccessible interface was replaced on single accessKey attribute. Gecko always exposed either an access key (alt + letter) and/or keyboard shortcut (ctrl + letter). An ability to return many keybindings was never used.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Debugging the Firefox accessibility

Firefox 18 got a logging system that allows you to analyze accessibility related problems and bugs. It's used to debug the real life examples like web pages where thousands of things happen every second and you don't have any clue what's going wrong there. If you ever debugged a focus issue on the web then I think you agree the logging is something very helpful on this way. On the other hand logging is a great thing to understand the problem you can't reproduce (reliably).

I didn't tried the system in case when the bug reporter is unique person who can see a problem but it works quite well for analysis of automated tests intermittent failures. The difference is the test suite has own logging capabilities and it writes down every step so that you can find out where the test was stumbled. Having these logs enabled both you can see what action was performed and what happened after.

Here's couple examples how to use logging to understand the intermittent failure.


Test suite logging

Almost every accessibility related test is based on events watching, i.e. we wait for certain event before starting the next test. It's all caused by async nature of accessibility implementation in Gecko.

You can start logging by setting gA11yEventDumpToConsole variable to true. A log looks like:

registered: event type: document load complete,
  target: tabDocumentAt, arg: 0
registered: event type: document load complete,
  target: tabDocumentAt, arg: 1

Event queue:
  invoke: relations of tabs

Event type: document load complete.
  Target: ['document node', address: 0x1e3b4850, role: document,
           name: 'The Book of Mozilla, 11:9', address: 0x112ddd90].
Event type: document load complete.
  Target: ['document node', address: 0x1e3b4448, role: document,
           name: 'About:', address: 0xe253250].

EQ matched: document load complete

  accessible/relations/test_tabbrowser.xul |
  Test timed out.

It is a real world example. We wait for two document load events and as you see we receive them but only one is recognized as expected one. The problem here is we wait events in specific order but sometimes we receive them in reverse order. It happens because documents are loaded asynchronously and thus events order varies. The test was fixed.

This was a case when the test suite log gives you enough information to fix a problem. But often you know there's no expected event and that's all you have. Extra info is wanted. In this case the system logging can be helpful.


System logging

The system logging is used to log implementation internals, i.e. it serves to understand what happens under the hood. There's a bunch of modules you can track, for example, 'focus' module logs everything related with accessible focus event processing. Depending on your needs you can enable one or several modules to log. You can do that by setting up the environment variable A11YLOG, for example:

export A11YLOG=focus,tree,DOMEvents;

Alternatively you can manage the logging from java script via nsIAccessibleRetrieval interface:

var accRetrieval =

Note, you need to have enhanced privileges for that. If you debug a11y automated tests then you can use enableLogging()/disableLogging() helper functions from common.js.

The system logging can be enabled on any debug or nightly build.


An example

Bug 782991 is a good example how to debug intermittent failures. The problem was the following: when link is open in a new window then document load event was missed occasionally. That's all you know. And that means you don't even know whether the window was open or not.

Since it's document loading issue then it's reasonable to enable 'docload' module. A log when test fails:

A11Y DOCLOAD: document loaded; 47:41.689
    DOM id: 17D86000, acc id: 1A9545C0
    uri: chrome://browser/content/browser.xul

A11Y DOCLOAD: document loaded; 47:42.014
    DOM id: 0E337000, acc id: 16C60B80

A11Y DOCLOAD: document loaded *completely*; 47:42.036
    DOM id: 0E337000, acc id: 16C60B80
    document acc state: completely loaded
    document is load event target: false

A11Y DOCLOAD: document loaded *completely*; 47:42.048
    DOM id: 17D86000, acc id: 1A9545C0
    uri: chrome://browser/content/browser.xul
    document acc state: completely loaded
    document is load event target: false

As you can see '' document gets loaded (what means the window was open) but document load event wasn't fired. In practice a log when the test doesn't fail is also helpful to find a problem:

A11Y DOCLOAD: document loaded; 02:50.695
    DOM id: 0x91e97a0, acc id: 0xebaf308
    uri: chrome://browser/content/browser.xul

A11Y DOCLOAD: document loaded *completely*; 02:51.043
    DOM id: 0x91e97a0, acc id: 0xebaf308
    uri: chrome://browser/content/browser.xul
    document acc state: completely loaded
    document is load event target: false

A11Y DOCLOAD: document loaded; 02:51.235
    DOM id: 0xd9732b0, acc id: 0xd11ed40

A11Y DOCLOAD: document loaded *completely*; 02:51.302
    DOM id: 0xd9732b0, acc id: 0xd11ed40
    document acc state: completely loaded
    document is load event target: true

A11Y DOCEVENT: handled 'load complete' event; 02:51.302
    DOM id: 0xd9732b0, acc id: 0xd11ed40

The difference between logs is in order of the document load processing. If the '' document is processed before a document of the main Firefox window then '' document isn't considered as a target of document loading events and the test fails. It's enough to understand where the bug is and fix it.

If you look for more examples then check out bugs: bug 745788, bug 708927 and bug 691580.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Crimea trip

This summer we decided to make a trip along Crimean coast starting from Feodosiya and finishing at Yevpatoriya. Crimea is a beautiful place having long and rich history.

Most of pictures are made by mobile phone so they aren't really good but I hope they don't ruin the impression.

To Crimea

I booked the flight to Simferopol with layover in Saint-Petersburg by Rossiya Airlines. When we arrived to Sain-Petersbug early morning then we were surprised that our connection flight was moved to the evening. We were forced to pick up all our luggage and then we moved to Rossiya Airlines office. They said they don't have any idea why they didn't contacted us about this change. Also they said they are sorry but they cannot help us: no left luggage service, no food etc.

We moved to the center of Saint-Petersburg and took a trip on Saint-Petersburg canals. It was rainy, we were tired but Saint-Petersburg was great.


Nothing really exciting about Feodosiya. A long coquina beaches around Feodosiya, a lot of sea. There are some old buildings, nice seafront and Aivazovskiy museum. A nice place as family resort.

Noviy Svet

Then we moved to Noviy Svet. This is a place I can love. Juniper forest, mountains and the sea. We lived near of the juniper forest and walked there everyday.

Juniper forest


After that we moved to Hurzuf. Hurzuf is a nice place as well: narrow and winding streets going up and down, Checkov's dacha.

We stayed in the hotel located in Artek - well known USSR pioneer camp. Artek has huge territory over 200 hectares (over 500 acres) and no doubts it's one of beautiful places I've ever seen.

Before Artek the Russian resort named SuukSu was located here.

There are Aldary here - two rocks in the sea. There's a Pushkin crag, they said he liked to visit these places.

Chaliapin wanted to build there Palace of Arts but failed to do that because of revolution.

The label says: "In Crimea in SuukSu there's a crag named Pushkin. I decided to build there a Castle of Arts. I told myself: kings and knights had castles. Why wouldn't artists had a castle? F. I. Chaliapin."


We visited Nikitskiy Botanical Garden. It's small (couple hours is enough to walk it) but very very nice.


We visited amazing Emine-Bair-Khosar and Marble caves in Chatyr-Dag mountain.


Then we moved to Alupka. Alupka is Vorontsov Palace and Vorontsov Park. Park is nice, palace is majestic. Rest of Alpuka didn't make any impression.

Big Yalta

Around Yalta (referred as Big Yalta) there are a lot of attractions including Vorontsov Palace in Alupka I mentioned above. We visited some of them.

Ai-Petri is a mountain and there's Gondola lift there. A flat plateau on the top, couple caves, a lot of restaurants of eastern cuisine and amazing view.

The Swallow Nest in Gaspra, a tiny palace over the cliff. Nowdays it's museum.

Yusupov palace is resort of Ukraine government nowdays but it's open for tourists occasionally.

The Livadia Palace of Nicolas II, Russian tsar.

The Massandra Palace, a country house of Alexander III, Russian tsar.


Then we moved to Sevastopol. Sevastopol is hero city, participant of two wars: Crimean War and World War II. It has large amount of monuments and very handsome.

The Panorama Museum (The Heroic Defence of Sevastopol during the Crimean War).

The Monument to the Scuttled Ships. 

There's ancient Greek city named Chersonesos.


Then we moved to Frunze, village near of the Saki city, a medicinal resort. Frunze is the sea and pebble beach, nothing else. Pretty quite. 

Few hours we spent walking in Saki. It's ashore the Saki lake known because of its medical mud. There's lot of people using wheelchairs there.


And finally we moved to Yevpatoriya. It has long sand beaches and nice downtown. A good place for children.


Tarkhankut is one of beautiful place of Crimea: cliffs, caves, tunnels and diving of course.

Getting back

Rossiya Airlines surprised us one more time when were heading up home. They moved our initial flight from Simferopol right after our connection flight from Saint-Petersburg. So we spend couple days in Saint-Petersburg waiting for the next flight. The good thing they paid for the hotel and food.

We visited Petergof Palace and Leningradskiy Zoopark next day.

So if you wanna take a look at Saint-Petersburg then please choose Rossiya Airlines. It's really amazing city.

Friday, June 8, 2012

UIA implementation in Firefox

We decided to start implementation of UI Automation (UIA) in Firefox. Some reasons of doing this:
  • UIA is considered as electronic curb cut effect. For example, it's used by Windows speech recognition and it's critical part to make your application working properly on Windows 8 Metro.
  • MSAA to UIA bridge is not good from performance perspective, for example, Firefox is getting slow when speech recognition is running.
  • By doing UIA Firefox can support Microsoft Narrator what is a plus.
We are going to make the work by parts starting from IAccessibleEx approach. You can watch our meta bug to follow the progress.

Some parts of UIA differs from IAccessible2 API, for example, text support is based on another concept. Thus it's going to take a while before you can try out something. During the implementation stage we think to keep UIA support disabled by default.

If you are contributor and you would like to help us with UIA implementation then you're welcome. You need to do some extra steps to what I wrote previously.
  • Follow these steps to build Firefox on Windows 8. Note, until the mozilla-build release doesn't contain proper scripts you need to obtain them from mozilla-build repo and copy them into your mozilla-build installation folder.
  • Add 'accessible.uia.enabled' pref and set it to true.
  • Check out this bug list to find a bug to work on.

Firefox 15: what's new for AT developers

Firefox 15 is in aurora channel now. This release doesn't have a lot of features interesting for AT developers. Primarily we were focused on under the hood work. But none the less.


As you know some ARIA state and properties are exposed via accessible object attributes. Basically ARIA attribute is mapped to accessible object attribute when there's no proper mapping to accessibility API, for example, in case of aria-sort attribute. As consequence this is applicable for any unknown ARIA attribute. Thus if you have something like:
  <div aria-myownproperty="myvalue"></div>
then Firefox exposes "myownproperty:myvalue" object attribute.

Whenever the ARIA attribute value is changed Firefox should fire IA2_EVENT_OBJECT_ATTRIBUTE_CHANGED event. Prior Firefox 15 the event was missed in some cases.


The bug when row accessible of the table (ATK_ROLE_LIST_ITEM / ROLE_SYSTEM_ROW) wasn't created for layout tables was fixed. Example:
  <div style="display: table;">
    <div style="display: table-row;">
      <div style="display: table-cell;">cell</div>
Thanks to Michał Frontczak for this contribution.


The major change that may affect on ATs is we started to fire document loading events on iframe documents. Prior to Firefox 15 they were restricted to tab documents. So if you, for example, change @src attribute on HTML iframe element then it causes LOAD_COMPLETE event on the document accessible loaded into the iframe. The same time if loading document contains sub documents (for example, a tab page containing iframe elements) then there's only one event fired on the document, in other words, document loading events are fired on root of the documents loading chain. Refer here for more information.

Correctness and performance

Finally the list bullet accessible boundaries bug was fixed. Also we fixed a regression that IAccessible2 state defunt wasn't exposed on defunct accessible.

Bunch of performance bugs were fixed. Overall performance was improved. Thanks to Mark Cappela and others for this good work. Also we made accessible states computation noticeable faster. This should make the screen reader user experience a little bit smoother.


A quick update on XPCOM support for those who use it in Firefox add-ons. We introdroduced new roles for HTML definition elements
  • dl element: nsIAccessibleRole.ROLE_DEFINITION_LIST
  • dt element: nsIAccessibleRole.ROLE_TERM
  • dd element: nsIAccessibleRole.ROLE_DEFINITION
Also nsIAccessible.numAction attribute was renamed to nsIAccessible.actionCount for consistence with other interfaces.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Firefox 14: what's new for AT developers

Firefox 14 is in aurora channel and 5 June it's becoming a beta. We did a bunch of improvements and changes in accessibility support.


ARIA role="note" is mapped into IA2_ROLE_NOTE role.  ARIA role="form" is mapped to IA2_ROLE_FORM / ATK_ROLE_FORM role. Also xml-roles:note and xml-roles:form object attributes are exposed respectively.

ARIA aria-describedby attribute used on HTML image element and pointing to HTML a element makes the image accessible to expose showlongdesc action. This action opens an URL provided by @href attribute on HTML a element in a new window. Take a look at example:
  <a id="a" href="">a link</a>
  <img aria-describedby="a" src="mozlizzard.png">


HTML section element accessible has IA2_ROLE_SECTION / ATK_ROLE_SECTION role and exposes xml-roles:region object attribute what makes it similar to ARIA role="region".

HTML sup and sub elements are exposed as text-position text attribute. Say you have:
which looks like xi2. In this case you get default text attributes at range (0, 1) for HTML div accessible, text-position:sub at (1, 2) range and text-position:super at (2, 3) range.

HTML button having aria-pressed="true" attribute has IA2_ROLE_TOGGLE_BUTTON / ATK_ROLE_TOGGLE_BUTTON role.


Editable text fields always expose IA2_STATE_EDITABLE / ATK_STATE_EDITABLE state not depending on whether text field is readonly or disabled.

Undertemined HTML progress element and ARIA role="progressbar" expose STATE_SYSTEM_INDETERMINATE / ATK_STATE_INDETERMINATE state. Here are examples of indeterminate progressmeters:
  <div aria="progressbar"></div>

Correctness and consistence

Image map accessible tree is properly updated when image map is changed. So whenever you add or remove HTML area element to/from related HTML map or change @name attribute on HTML map the image map accessible picks up the changes.

XUL listbox accessible tree is updated correctly when list items are inserted or removed. The issue affected on Thuderbird UI and Firefox profile manager dialog. I'm happy that finally this problem was fixed.

event-from-input:true object attribute is exposed on event target accessible if it's a child of the focused editable area. In general this is not correct but it's a good approximation to desired behavior. So for example, if value of the focused editable area is changed by script then we still report event-from-input:true and that's wrong of course.

We report the value of tag object attribute in lowercase always. We do that for consistence with other markup languages like XUL, XHTML or SVG. Also tag object attribute is not exposed when it's not applicable, for example, it's not used anymore for bullet accessible of list item. These changes shouldn't introduce problems for ATs but you should be aware of them just in case.

In MSAA/IAccessible2 layer when accessible is defunct then any method called on it returns CO_E_OBJECTNOTCONNECTED now.

XPCOM interfaces

nsIAccessible::innerHTML attribute was removed. It dupes the HTML element interface capabilities so it doesn't make sense to maintain accessibility version of it.


ARIA relation attributes used on XBL bound element are allowed to point to XBL anonymous content. You can do:

  <bindings xmlns="">
    <binding id="custombutton">
      <content aria-labelledby="button.label" role="button">
        <label xmlns="" anonid="button.label">
          anon label

  <div id="button" style="-moz-binding: url('#custombutton');"></div>

In this case the button accessible picks up the name from anonymous label element.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New contributors, welcome on board!

I remember that couple years ago I answered some Mozilla questionnaire and one of questions was "how many new contributors were involved into your project this year". That time I answered "none". Now I can say times were changed. Mozilla started the active engagement work and of course it brought a positive effect to Mozilla accessibility story.

I was the first one from accessibility team who volunteered to find good first bugs for new contributors and do mentoring. Now everyone from accessibility team joined. And I can say you why.
  • It's really fun because you talk to new people who is passionate about open web, accessibility and Mozilla.
  • You acquire new experience working closely with contributors having different styles and another way of thinking.
  • New contributors do amazing work! Over the past three months about 150 bugs were fixed in accessibility module, over 30 bugs were fixed by new contributors.
As you can see results are very exiting.

Ok. What if you think Mozilla is cool or if you are passionate about accessibility. Then it's time to join!

If you are a hacker then you can start hacking on Firefox accessibility easily. Here are simple steps:
Well, if you want to try something else outside the accessibility then there's a nice tool to find mentored bugs. Or if you are unsure about code hacking this time then check out how else you can get involved.

Interested? Do you want to change the web? Then welcome on board! It's really fun!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Firefox 13 for AT developers

Several days ago Firefox 13 entered into aurora channel. No active development on it anymore so it's time to give it a try.

Firefox 13 looks much more interesting from AT perspective than Firefox 12. Let's run through the changes.


We implemented the canvas fallback content accessibility.

Table data vs layout algorithm was enriched by extending the list of legitimate data table structures. So if @headers, @scope and @abbr attributes are specified on HTML table cell or the table cell contains HTML abbr element as a single child element then the table is treated as data table. Thanks to our new contributor Mark Capella who implemented this.


As you probably know that ARIA doesn't provide a way to expose accessible actions on ARIA widgets and therefore Firefox makes a guess about actions depending on ARIA role. This release got a fix for role="button" which is exposed with press action now.

We dropped ARIA role="label" support which was removed from the spec.

ARIA role="listitem" doesn't longer support aria-selected and aria-checked. ARIA role="combobox" doesn't allow aria-valuemin/aria-valuemax attributes that were maintained by mistake I believe over certain period. 

Text attributes

In Firefox 13 the font-family text attribute represents the actual used font. Previously the value was exactly the same what the user specified by CSS font-family property. Note, the range still might be not correct on case by case basis, for example, when font-family is changed within a single text node.

New text-underline-color and text-line-through-color text attributes were implemented. Check out IAccessible2 spec for details.

The text-position text attribute is restricted to spec allowed values: baseline, super and sub. Other enum values of CSS vertical-align used to expose this text attribute are ignored.

Object attributes

Now we expose D2D object attribute on Windows. If hardware acceleration is turned on then you can see D2D:true object attribute on application accessible.

We expose margin-left/right/top/bottom object attributes. Thanks to Mark Capella who volunteered to fix this issue.

Work in progress and randoms

Got more progress on OS X accessibility. Probably not a giant step but no doubts we moving forward. Not a part of default build still.

We addressed few issues with text interface like wrong behavior of caretOffset. We fixed some regressions in hit testing and accessible coordinates for zoomed pages. Fixed a major issue when we missed parts of accessible tree under certain circumstances. The patch was back ported to Firefox 12.

On ATK the application accessible object name is a real application name. Prior this fix it was application brand name. To make things clear we expose now 'Firefox' not 'Nightly', for example, in case of nightly Firefox build. That was done because ATK doesn't have an option to expose application name the way as IAccessible2 does and AT had hard times to figure out that the running nightly Firefox is Firefox actually.

Virtual cursor

Last but not least. At XPCOM level we introduced traversal API and virtual cursor support. That's a major step on the way to make screen readers running in the browser. Now you can manage the virtual cursor from JS. This is pure API thing, i.e. the virtual cursor doesn't have any visual presentation so as Firefox add-on developer you should take care about this. This work was influenced by Firefox accessibility on Android. Anyway this item deserves own post so no many details here.