NetBeans plug-ins - ACCESSIBLE

kaputmaltwormSoftware and s/w Development

Aug 15, 2012 (4 years and 10 months ago)


Disability Impairment Approximation Simulation
(NetBeans plug-ins)
A suite of three different plug-ins for the NetBeans platform has been developed, in
order to provide users of this IDE with the DIAS impairment simulation capabilities,
embedded in their development environment. As explained in the following, two out
of these three plugins enable the simulation of Java applications, whereas the third
one allows the simulation of web pages of sites that are developed through the
NetBeans IDE.
Figure 1: Toolbar of NetBeans IDE with the DIAS run main (marked in red), web preview (blue) and
preview design (green) plug-ins installed
Java applications
In respect of Java applications, the DIAS NetBeans plug-in suite includes the preview
design and the run main simulation functionalities. The preview design plugin
provides users a visual design preview feature that allows them to understand how
their implemented Swing forms can be perceived from people with visual
impairments. This plug-in enables developers to preview the form layout of their
implementations, similarly to the simple “preview design” of the NetBeans platform,
yet along with impairment simulation. The preview design functionality can be
activated by clicking on the appropriate small image of an eye with an arm-chair
preview icon, at the IDE’s Toolbar (Figure 1), while the developer is viewing a Swing
form within the NetBeans conventional GUI form designer. Figure 2 shows an
instance of the DIAS preview design plug-in, while glaucoma is simulated over a
Swing form that is being developed with NetBeans.
Figure 2: Simulation of glaucoma over a Swing form through the DIAS preview design plug-in
Apart from the ability to see an approximation simulation of various disability
impairments the developer is presented with a list of all the accessibility errors and

warnings regarding the implemented GUI form. Thus, s/he can inspect the
problematic GUI components and get a short description of the problem and/or a
recommendation on how to fix it. When a specific error or warning is selected, the
respective GUI component is highlighted in the DIAS simulation pane. Additionally,
the properties regarding the component are presented, as it is shown in Figure 3.
When a warning / error is selected, the developer can double click on the
recommendation window in order to fix the identified problem.
Figure 3: Recommendations provided through the NetBeans IDE preview design plug-in, in respect of
dyslexia simulation
The preview design plug-in can facilitate a developer with limited knowledge on
accessibility issues towards building accessible Java Swing forms. However, the real-
time interactions of developers with their Swing application forms are also highly
important within the design of their implementations. Static and non interactive views
of applications are fine when developers and designers are developing independent
forms, but the preview design plug-in can not assist them in respect of understanding
how form components should behave as the application is running in real time, where
relevant modifications come up during interaction (e.g. modification of size, usage of
combo boxes and buttons, change the ordering of tabs, etc). To overcome this issue,
the DIAS run main NetBeans plug-in has been implemented, so as to enable
developers to explore, run and test their implementations during simulation of
impairments. While their applications are running, new windows, such as dialogs,
choosers or frames, may appear due to user interactions. The DIAS run main
functionality can be activated by clicking on the appropriate image of a green triangle
with an arm-chair, at the IDE’s Toolbar.
(Hyperopia) is simulated over a Swing form that is being developed with NetBeans.
As shown in Figure 4, the DIAS UI presented to the user is in this case the same as
the one presented during Java application simulation through the stand-alone version
of the tool.

Figure 4: Simulation of a Java application with a persona suffering from blurred vision (Hyperopia)
through the DIAS run main plug-in
Web applications
NetBeans provides developers with the capability to create web sites, consisting of
both static (e.g. .html ) and dynamic (e.g. .jsp) web pages. Our developed tool offers
developers using NetBeans also the capability to examine the accessibility of web-
based UIs. This is achieved through the web preview plug-in of the DIAS NetBeans
suite. Typically, web pages developed through NetBeans can be viewed through a
”Preview” option offered by an IDE’s plug-in. Our plug-in introduces in NetBeans a
further option, through which web pages can be viewed, through simulation of our
tool’s supported impairments.
Within the DIAS web preview plug-in, the XULrun-ner runtime is utilized through
the DJNativeSwing library, so as to parse web pages and present them. As shown in
Figure 5, this plug-in shows the web page, as provided from XULrunner on the left
pane, where the developer may interact with it, similarly as a user would do so using a
XUL-based web browser (e.g.Mozilla Firefox). Simultaneously, the result of the web
page, filtered through the DIAS impairment filters, is presented at the simulation pane
of the plug-in’s UI, similarly to the afore-described preview design and run main
plug-ins of Java applications. As a result, the developer can gain an insight of how
her/his developed web page would be perceived from users with the supported

Figure 5: Simulation of a web page ( with retinitis pigmentosa impairment through
the DIAS web preview plug-in