Accessible extensions?

There’s been a thought rattling around in my brain for a while, but when my hand started hurting a bit today, I thought a bit more.

Many of the Firefox extensions I use don’t have keyboard shortcuts. Or, for that matter, menuitems inserted by overlay into the main toolbar.

I’m not intending to point fingers (I’m guilty of not considering a11y with tinderstatus), but there are some popular extensions out there that could really use some accessibility love. Including several that I use on a daily (and in one case, hourly or even more frequently 😉 ) basis.

On the other hand, there is the danger of two or more extensions picking the same key combination to do something. I am acutely aware of that problem; I face the same sort of issue at a higher level of magnitude with Verbosio. We might need some kind of functionality through Firefox’s Extension Manager to override assigned alternate UI’s to their core functions. (What to do for extensions missing UI I haven’t figured out yet.)

Thoughts? I’d be willing to design & patch for this, but I want some community feedback (and if I do patch, a general assurance that it will get fast reviews). Is this worth doing? If so, how would you want it to work?

6 thoughts on “Accessible extensions?”

  1. The EM would probably not be the place to do this since it manages the install, uninstall, update, etc. for extensions and does nothing in regards to an extension’s XUL interaction with an app. Seems like this would need to be taken care of in the widget code when an accesskey, etc. is set for a widget.

  2. This sounds almost like an unsolvable problem to me, not?
    How would you imagine to circumvent keyboard shortcuts clashing with different extensions?

  3. Yes!!
    Actually what I think we need is a global keyboard shortcut manager for all Firefox commands, not just for extensions. Extensions would add commands to the list. Extensions would attempt to request a key binding but they wouldn’t override previous bindings. Maybe when an extension gets installed if it requests a previously used binding the shortcut manager would pop-up and conflicts would be higlighted in red.
    (From Alex: That’s asking a bit much. 🙂 )

  4. Sounds like a great usability improvement! Perhaps a do-it-yourself (shortcut-adding) system a la foobar2000 would be sufficent, although I guess something more sophisticated is required to make this an outstanding feature..

  5. Completly agree with miguel: the global shortcut manager is needed, but since that is a bit too much maybe that aproach could be done just for extensions. The first requester should get the shortcut.

  6. In addition to a shortcut manager, could you please add a manager manager?
    (From Alex: I’m trying to figure out if you’re serious or not…)

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