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Eclipse for people with impaired vision [message #970406] Sat, 03 November 2012 23:00 Go to next message
Valerian Z is currently offline Valerian Z
Messages: 4
Registered: August 2012
Junior Member
Some parts of the Eclipse UI are difficult or impossible for people with certain kinds of vision impairments to use. Among the problems are the size and color schemes used for icons in toolbars and in the rest of the UI.

Is there any way to:
- Use larger icons?
- Add text to icons?
- Replace icons entirely by text, with control over the font size?

Eclipse provides several different color themes. All of them, though, use at least some low-contrast or low-color-saturation elements that some people can't see very well. Is there an Eclipse option to change the color scheme used by icons, so people with some kinds of color blindness can see distinguish the icons from the background?

Changing the overall screen resolution or color scheme might help make the Eclipse icons more visible, but can also create problems with the UI provided by the operating system and/or other applications.

Although many of the functions invoked via icons can also be invoked via menus, useful functions are sometimes several layers deep, making them harder to find and slower to use. "Slower to use" may seem like a trivial issue until one thinks about the number of times the same navigation may be done during a day, or even a single development session. Is there some option that can be used to reorganize Eclipse's menus, putting the functions needed under particular circumstances in easier to find/reach places?

Most (although not all) modern applications provide better options to assist vision impaired people than Eclipse does.

I've done general web searches; looked though the Eclipse documentation; and searched the project forums. I've found the same question asked by other people, but haven't yet found any good suggestions. If I'm missing something, I'd appreciate ideas or pointers.
Re: Eclipse for people with impaired vision [message #970701 is a reply to message #970406] Sun, 04 November 2012 03:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Nir Lisker is currently offline Nir Lisker
Messages: 6
Registered: November 2012
Junior Member
Hi Valerian,

For colors and fonts, go to Windows -> Preferences.

  • Under General > Appearance > Colors and Fonts you can change the colors and fonts of just about anything.
  • Under General > Editors > Text Editors there are several relevant menus. One is Accessibility which addresses visual impairment. Annotations, Linked Mode and Quick Diff have some color settings as well.
  • Under Java > Editor > Syntax Coloring you can change the colors of the code text.

To install color themes, I found eclipsecolorthemes.org/?view=plugin, but never used it myself.
Note that the icons have text tooltips upon hover, though I didn't find a way to completely replace the icons with text.

For menu commands, go to Windows -> Customize Perspective. You can change there which commands appear, maybe you can use it for shorter access. Under General -> Keys you can set the keyboard shortcuts of commands for quick access.

If there is anything specific you want to change the appearance of, perhaps you can provide a screenshot.
Re: Eclipse for people with impaired vision [message #1013307 is a reply to message #970701] Sat, 23 February 2013 04:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Laszlo Uriel is currently offline Laszlo Uriel
Messages: 1
Registered: February 2013
Junior Member
Here is a screen shot of the best *I* have been able to do to change to dark backgrounds and light foregrounds to help with various vision impairments from personal preference to headaches to cataracts to neuropathy and various others.

Please notice all the white and bright cream colored backgrounds. All these areas of the UI fall outside of the current realm of "Window>Preferences>General>Appearance>Colors and Fonts" and also the many OTHER places colors can be specified throughout Window>Preferences (why they aren't ALL under "Colors and Fonts" continues to be another mystery).

We need to be able to set ALL backgrounds, and ALL foregrounds. The concept is very simple. But as great as Eclipse is (and it is!!), this continues to elude either the developers or many, many, MANY users.

Please understand that this is just one screen shot. To be thorough (always a good habit) go into Window>Preferences and change EVERY color everywhere to, let's say BLACK...anything not black is something that cannot be colored by way of Window>Preferences (and it's A LOT!!).

There is also the matter of Window>Preferences>General>Appearance>Theme, which has a very small list of Themes, which apparently cannot be edited or added to, and which tend to lead to impossible to read (for some) white or very bright backgrounds.

So there are two separate ways to change colors in eclipse, where one (generally, text editors) is, if cumbersome, at lease very helpful, and the other ("Themes") is easy to change but totally inadequate and not even remotely customizable. And, I will add, it seems at first glance there are some colors which never, EVER change, no matter what colors and themes are chosen.

I know it's difficult for a fully sighted person to understand the needs here. As an exercise, try taping some wax paper to your monitor. I'm not exaggerating!! This will give you a general idea of how just SOME vision impaired people have to see the world. White or bright backgrounds completely wash out any dark foreground text, icons, etc. making using eclipse next to impossible, and often very uncomfortable!

I know a lot of brilliant people with a smarts for software and issues with sight. I cannot overstate the importance of customizable colors in such great and important IDEs like Eclipse! I hope someone can provide either some insight (please, call me ignorant and tell me how to fix it!! hehe) or some fixes in near-future version. Please please!

Best wishes!!
Laszlo

www.aluna.com/images/other_forums/eclipse_too_bright_beyond_control_01.png
(sorry, apparently I'm not allowed to post links if I haven't posted 5 messages. wow!)
Re: Eclipse for people with impaired vision [message #1013543 is a reply to message #1013307] Sat, 23 February 2013 18:35 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Russell Bateman is currently offline Russell Bateman
Messages: 3052
Registered: July 2009
Location: Provo, Utah, USA
Senior Member

On 02/23/2013 06:36 AM, Laszlo Uriel wrote:
> Here is a screen shot of the best *I* have been able to do to change to
> dark backgrounds and light foregrounds to help with various vision
> impairments from personal preference to headaches to cataracts to
> neuropathy and various others.
>
> [snip]

Hey, thanks for posting this. Laszlo. For all anyone knows, like me,
such problems are in the near future for many of us and we'd be glad for
a solution. I haven't graduated to Juno from Indigo yet because there
are aspects of its interface and overall visual effect that are very
bothersome to me. I only hope this topic will be seen as important
enough to be the object of some effort by the Eclipse developers.

Best regards,

Russ
Re: Eclipse for people with impaired vision [message #1013554 is a reply to message #1013543] Sat, 23 February 2013 19:16 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Valerian Z is currently offline Valerian Z
Messages: 4
Registered: August 2012
Junior Member
It's the present for some people.

This issue has been posted occasionally in the past. I stopped waiting for any response or action, and have been working with some people vision impaired people on non-Eclipse solutions.

I'm a developer. I could probably implement one or more solutions myself. But learning my way around through the vast Eclipse sources would take far more time than I have, and none of the regular Eclipse developers seems have enough interest to provide any hints.

Playing with colors is helpful for a few people, but what's really needed is options to either make the icons larger, or add text to the icons, or replace the graphical icons with text icons.

Under Win 7 (and maybe other revs), turning off all of the overly-fancy Win UI (Aero) helps for some, as does using a basic or high-contrast theme. It's also possible to config Windows to use a different DPI setting. Unfortunately, all of these screw up the UI of Windows itself, and/or of other applications. Using operating system controls to fix a problem in a single application is not a good solution.

So until the Eclipse devs provide a better, Eclipse-local solution or are willing to work with me or others to fix this, Eclipse is simply not usable by many people with vision impairments. That's doubly bad given the other projects (e.g., Android) that have standardized on Eclipse as their only supported development environment.
Re: Eclipse for people with impaired vision [message #1013556 is a reply to message #1013554] Sat, 23 February 2013 19:22 Go to previous message
Valerian Z is currently offline Valerian Z
Messages: 4
Registered: August 2012
Junior Member
Nir Lisker:

None of your suggestions addresses the stated problem: the part of the Eclipse UI that depends entirely on icons, where those icons cannot be made larger, supplemented with text, or replaced with textual icons. And, as Lazlo suggests, the problem is not limited to just the main workbench icon row, and cannot be fixed wither by existing Eclipse options or by changing Windows options.
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