[Accessibility] Revised Accessibility Working Group minutes for Feb.25

John Goldthwaite john.goldthwaite at catea.org
Wed Mar 3 10:14:24 PST 2004

Accessibility Working Group Meeting February 25, 2004

Doug Beattie
John Goldthwaite
Bill Haneman
Peter Korn
Janina Sajka
Gunnar Schmidt
Matthew Wilcox

Last weeks minutes need to be reviewed.
Action items-

Today- step back from Bill’s explanation of AT-SPI and see what we need to
do in the other areas.  We had good questions from members and from Stuart
Anderson on the details.  There will likely need to be more discussion.  How
do we get towards consensus?  This may be somewhat different from what LSB
is used to seeing as a standard.  Other than explaining over and over again
to wider audiences, what can we do?
Bill – if we could summarize the goals and issues that have been raised. We
have it in a narrative form that might be hard to decipher.  If we can state
the goals, the requirements that have come out of the conversation.
Janina- FAQs?
Bill- more like bullet points and a few paragraphs.  The discussion
presupposes some things we’d like to do, we need to flesh those out more
explicitly.  We expressed a desire to have a product that’s not tied to a
specific implementation or to a particular language.
Janina- it shouldn’t be hard to start this discussion on the list.  Other
thoughts?  Do we need to figure out when we need to do a face to face with
other people, such as at Linux World in San Francisco?
Bill- when is it?
Doug- around the first week in August.
Janina- are you likely to be there, Bill?
Bill- August is usually a bit dicey.
Bill- I wasn’t thinking FAQ but that may be what we need.  I was thinking of
characteristics of the standard.  If we put this in the terms of
requirements, we may find we can’t meet our requirements for this year.  If
it has 
 validatible, implementable for various toolkits, not just one
toolkit.  The best solution may be more that one ABI or API. Because this is
a pretty complex item, it has elements that are in several parts of the
desktop so we may need more than one ABI.
Janina-  Requiring CORBA seems to raise questions for some people, we need
to explain why this is the right answer.  If there are other solutions,
perhaps someone could come up with a solution.
Bill- We need an implementation that can have components that can replaced
without redoing others.  Every standard does tye in, if you have a
requirement for C in your environment, that will determine some aspects of
the linking loader, bindings, 

Doug- for every version that the LSB does, they get down to the lower levels
such as specific symbol versioning on the libraries.

Doug- that’s not tying to an implementation, just to use commonly used
Bill-   there is an element of implementation in the spec.  You are saying I
’m going to communicate in a certain way.
Doug- that’s correct. 
 C library 
  It’s best common practice.
 CORBA had a long soak time.
Doug- you’re going to see how it’s going to work well and be fair and
equitable for everybody.
Janina- this is the question – is it functional for the greatest number of
people and doesn’t break features.
Doug- and it’s not going to cost them anything as far as royalties.  If it’s
the best thing technologically, why wouldn’t people want to do it?
Bill- we’re providing sources, it’s just a question dropping them in.
Doug- having having others (distros and ISV) know that the upstream
providers are going to be around so the features will be maintained with our
group or the distros and ISV having to maintain the item(s).
For example, xfree86 changed its license and now most distros are going to
drop it unless they change the license.  A new source is going may have to
be adopted to keep the licenses compatible.  There should be multiple things
from which to choose from.

Janina- seems like writing it up in plain English is the next step.
Doug – I still want to be clear that CORBA is the right thing to do, its not
going to lock us in.
Bill- we have implementations of CORBA ..  there doesn’t seem to be any
problem with having a free, open source implementation.  Commercial
implementations have existed for years, although it’s not as commonly used
now because of SOAP and XML.  If it’s a question of whether CORBA will be
around, the answer is yes.
Doug: What about copyright issues?
Bill- yes the copyright is open source.  A lot of open source software
relies on the CORBA standard, so we won’t be alone. It makes me confident
that other people have addressed this question and found that there is not a
problem with CORBA.
Use of CORBA is specific to a implementation of an IDL. But the IDL is
expressible in other ways.  If we want to change the ABI we can do that
without disrupting the API’s.  We can swap in an alternate ABI that have the
same semantics and be transparent.
Doug- We don't want to have to deliever any new binaries to make things
work. The discussion/question here, from myself, was that we do need to
somehow guarantee that an ISV can write an application and the binary will
run in the same manner on all certified distributions claiming to support
the standard. The FSG is concerned about making life between ISVs and
distributions compatible. Bill- worst case you’d have to recompile your test
Bill- didn’t say binary because that’s ABI.  When we’re talking ABI its 

Doug- when I’m talking ABI it’s an application running without problems.
Bill- it’s a slightly different point.  With IDL, we can swap
implementations without breaking the clients.  The ABI will change but the
semantics as seen by the application won’t change.  We may have to recompile
the test suites.  There may be a time in the future where we have a binary
incompatibility such as major version change.  A new technology may come
along that we want to swap for CORBA.  
 The implementation details have to
be shared across the desktop.  The important.. is not at the bindings, its
at the interprocess communications level.  Making changes means making
changes to the protocols.  We’d have to change the tests.  If we test just
one side of the equation, that’s not an adequate assurance that something
such a screenreader will run.  If we standardize at the language bindings,
we could swap 

Doug- it sounds like we need to standardize a several levels
Bill- Yes
 we could confirm that the interfaces are there.  On the client
side we could test the ABI so that the client wouldn’t have to be
recompiled.  The downside- the C bindings would be a wrapper around
something that’s already a wrapper.  If we standardize on the protocol,
because CORBA provides a definitive spec about what a client binding is
supposed to look like, the CORBA binding is not as implementation
independent as we’d like.  It would have some ‘warts’, if we change the
implementation we’d have to make the new software compatible with the ‘warts
’.  The application would have to think it was talking to the CORBA server.

Janina- lets back up to the face to face meeting.  Do Gunnar or Matthew have
any questions?
Gunnar- I don’t have anything to add right now.

Doug – Linux World is Aug 2-6, perhaps earlier in San Fransico
Janina- Bill, where are you likely to be over the next year-
Bill- probably, Gnome Users and Developers European Conference (GUDEC)
Matthew- Linux symposium.org is July 21-24 in Ottawa; I’m on the review
committee for papers.
Doug- many of the LSB people will be there. OLS is an engineers conference
and not marketing fluff at all.
Bill- that might be worth a trip.
Doug- this is definitely not a marketing event!
Peter- Bill, you’re the one that needs to be there rather than me.
Bill- I should be available at that time.
Bill- Gunnar are you available at that time?
Gunnar- I am open at this time.
Matthew- We had no KDE papers submitted last year. Gunnar, you should submit
a paper on KDE.
Janina- we should present a paper on our proposal.  Is the meeting at HP?
Matthew- no, its independent, at the conference center.
Doug- Mats Wichmann is the current head of the LSB, it would be good to
discuss the project with him.  He is with Intel.
Janina- it would be good to have this document completed by then.  We could
present it and see if we have agreement.  If we get agreement then we can go
on with discussions on the test suites.
Doug- how about at CSUN in March?
Janina- there is a lot going on there but most of the Linux developers
wouldn’t be there.
Doug- The technical groups met before the conference started, then for a
couple days during the conference in the hotel suite set up for this
purpose, away from the marketing hype.
Janina- that’s a different kind of work.
Doug- the group brings in a wireless connection so that everyone can
exchange documents and we get a lot of work done.

Janina- I can get the document started and we can see how we can move it
forward on the list.  Any other things we need to discuss?  We will have a
meeting next week.  I hope it’s as good as the last few which have really
moved things forwards.  See you next week.  I’ll be at the W3C conference in

Bill- did you get any good weather in Malaga?
Janina- No, it cleared up after I left. There is a person from the EC that’s
interested in the project.  He is from the radical party in Italy.
Doug- Have you talked to the group from Spain?
Janina- no, I heard that there is a group at ONCE that is doing things with
Linux but I haven’t met them.  Has SUN been working with them?
Peter- not on Linux, we had a project on Java.
Bill - O’Reilly has put all its books on Bookshare.
Janina- That’s great. I need to talk to Jim Fruckterman, they have a problem
with one of the conversion utilities for Daisy.
Bill- if a contact with Tim O’Reilly is useful, he welcomed a meeting.
Janina- there is going to have to be a book about what we’re doing.  Talking
at the O’Reilly conference would be a good place to talk about moving from
the theoretical to the practical.  O’Reilly has always been supportive, we’
ve always been able to get ASCII from them.  Well, see you next week.

John Goldthwaite
Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access, Georgia Tech
john.goldthwaite at catea.org

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