Trolltech <-> KDE contact point for critical issues

Olaf Jan Schmidt ojschmidt at
Fri Jul 28 17:27:15 BST 2006


In KDE's Human-Computer-Interface (HCI) working group, we have collected a 
number of items that need to be changed in Qt4 for our plans to improve the 
usability, accessibility and artwork of KDE4.

Some of them (e.g. all of the accessibility issues) have already been 
mentioned to various Qt developers during the development of Qt 4.0 and 4.1., 
but so far we have not managed to convince Trolltech that all of these are 
important for KDE.

We are therefor summarizing the points in an "official" list that has the 
joint support from members of the various HCI-related teams in KDE 
(accessibility, usability, artwork, documentation, internationalization).

The list contains all requirements that we have managed to refine enough to 
request them at this time. We expect to develop others as the time goes on 
and will then contact Trolltech again about having them implemented in future 

The items can fit into roughly three areas.

1. AT-SPI:

- In short term-perspective, an official statement of planned AT-SPI support 
in Qt and a rough schedule for it are very important. Because of the politics 
in the Free Standards Group, we need a reply from Trolltech on this issue as 
soon as possible.

- The AT-SPI protocol allows assistive technologies such as the Orca screen 
reader to enquire the user interface of applications. Making KDE accessible 
to blind users is a key priority to our work on KDE4. This of course requires 
educating developers how to use the Qt Accessibility Framework in custom 
widgets, which means that we need proper documentation and testing tools at 
least by aKademy.

- The implementation of AT-SPI is currently uses a number of GNOME 
dependencies, e.g. bonobo and ORBit2. IBM already started work on replacing 
these dependencies with D-Bus, but they stopped the work after Trolltech 
released Qt 4.0 and Qt 4.1 without the AT-SPI support promised in the release 
announcement of the Qt 4.0 Technology Preview.

- The Free Standards Group is currently discussing whether to standardize the 
current AT-SPI implementation (including the GNOME dependencies) rather than 
waiting for a possible D-Bus version that no one is publically seen to be 
working on. We plan to prevent this, because it would make it much more 
difficult to later implement support for it in Qt.

- We know that Harald Fernengel has been working on a D-Bus based version of 
AT-SPI during the last two years, and incidentally he sent a first snapshot of 
the code to members of the KDE accessibility team today. This work is 
extremely helpful for supporting our position in the FSG. What is also needed 
is a quotable statement confirming that Trolltech has allocated resources for 
D-Bus based version of AT-SPI. With it, we have good chances to convince the 
Free Standards Group not to standardize the GNOME dependencies of current 
version of AT-SPI.

2. We are currently working on a detailed concept to replace the color, font 
and icon settings in KDE4. The document is not finalized yet, but during our 
work on it so far, we found various Qt-related issues.

- The algorithm computing the values for "Light, Midlight, Dark, Mid, Shadow" 
and for the disabled color group does not work with dark background color 
schemes. This is a problem both for artists designing color schemes and for 
users with visual impairment, who might be unable to read text on light 
backgrounds. (Artwork, Accessibility)

- In KDE4, we are planning to change the color roles defined in KDE's 
color schemes. Some of the new color roles need to be passed on to the 
widget styles. This should be possible either by extending QPalette or by 
subclassing it in KDE. (Artwork, Accessibility)

All widget styles:
- None of widgets shipped with Qt currently work with dark background color 
schemes. This might be caused by bugs in QPalette (see above).

- We need the ability to make relative changes to font settings, e.g. "Font 
Family: Default, Font Style: Bold, Size: 120% (11)". (Usability, 

QColorDialog and KColorChooser:
- We have worked out a suggestion for a new color selection dialog in KDE4 
that combines the improved user interface of the Qt color dialog with the 
features of the KDE3 color dialog. It should be evaluated whether the 
implementation of it makes more sense in Qt or in kdelibs (Usability)

- Add the ability to have separators within a combobox (or ensure that it is 
easy to add those in a KDE subclass). (Usability)

3. The third important topic is full accessibility of the user interface via 

All widgets:
- Make sure all widgets can be completely used via keyboard.

- The toolbars should be part of the normal tab order as in Gtk+. Moving the 
focus within a toolbar can then done with arrow keys, selection of a focused 
tool button with space. If the operating system defines a different method to 
set the keyboard focus to tool buttons (like in Mac OS X), then this should 
additionally be supported.

- It would be great if keyboard accelerators in QToolBox headings set the 
keyboard focus to the first item within the toolbox page. (They appear not to 
work at all in Qt3.)

QRadioButton and QCheckbox:
- If the accelerator of a radio button of check box is pressed, then the 
keyboard focus should move as well.

To keep the mail within reasonable size, we did not include all details for 
the mentioned items. We will send it to you upon request. Since some of the 
members of the HCI working group are located in Berlin, it might perhaps make 
sense to discuss this at a face-to-face in Trolltech's new office in Berlin.

We would greatly appreciate it if Trolltech commits to at least those items 
that cannot be solved within KDE. 

For KDE's HCI workgroup,

Olaf Jan Schmidt

Olaf Jan Schmidt, KDE Accessibility co-maintainer, open standards 
accessibility networker, Protestant theology student and webmaster of and

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