Preview: Windows App Essentials and Event Tracker 22.10 changes
Part of the reason for posting this preview announcement has to do with massive changes coming to Windows App Essentials and Event Tracker add-ons in October, but more importantly, this is a precursor to a new (or rather, a revived) add-on announcement (next post):
People using development builds of Windows App Essentials may have noticed some big changes coming to the add-on. Most importantly, as of version 22.10 (coming soon), Windows App Essentials can announce drag and drop effects properly in places such as when arranging Action center (Quick settings in Windows 11) items. But the biggest change to be introduced in 22.10 (to be implemented in dev builds next week) deals with splitting add-on features, namely moving Word 365 formatting announcement workaround to a dedicated add-on and letting Event Tracker log drag and drop effect property changes.
These changes are just one part of a long-term goal to put Windows App Essentials add-on to rest. Although I did say a while back that the add-on will be developed as long as Windows Insider Program exists, I knew for some time that I need to let go of Windows App Essentials add-on eventually. I don’t know when I will let go of the add-on, but I promise that I will give you plenty of time to prepare before I declare Windows App Essentials end of life (at least from me). As of now I have a definitive development plan that will cover up to July 2023 when I end support for Windows 11 Version 21H2 (original release) from development builds, with a reminder to return to the add-on in late 2025 to end support for Windows 10 altogether.
In some ways, the introduction of UIA drag and drop effect announcement in NVDA 2022.4, previously a part of Windows App Essentials add-on, will mark the beginning of what you could call the “maintenance” phase of the add-on, at least for some. For one, people using NVDA 2022.2 and 2022.3 will get to experience changes coming in NVDA 2022.4 through the add-on. But once NVDA 2022.4 stable version comes out, I will ask everyone to upgrade to NVDA 2022.4 (sound familiar?); in other words, I’m initiating a version jump. With the UIA drag and drop effect announcement now in NVDA Core, the only remaining big feature in Windows App Essentials is virtual desktop announcements (some people did work on this feature in NVDA Core but is stalled at the moment), with smaller features for various apps being another part of the add-on.
Speaking of drag and drop, that will be the main highlight of Event Tracker 22.10. From that version onwards, debug messages for UIA drag and drop events will be logged via Event Tracker, not Windows App Essentials. Event Tracker will also enhance reporting of some UIA events, notably item status event.
As for what’s going on with Word 365’s formatting announcement workaround, that’s coming up in the next post, but suffice to say that future Windows App Essentials releases will do its best to not interfere with changes for Office applications; more on that in the upcoming post.