Nov 16

accessibility tools for everyone

From The Man Who Is Transforming Microsoft:

[Satya Nadella] moves to another group of kids and then shifts his attention to a teenage student who is blind. The young woman has been working on building accessibility features using Cortana, Microsoft’s speech-activated digital assistant. She smiles and recites the menu options: “Hey Cortana. My essentials.” Despite his transatlantic jet lag Nadella is transfixed. “That’s awesome,” he says. “It’s fantastic to see you pushing the boundaries of what can be done.” He thanks her and turns toward the next group.

“I have a particular passion around accessibility, and this is something I spend quite a bit of cycles on,” Nadella tells me later. He has two daughters and a son; the son has special needs. “What she was showing me is essentially how she’s building out as a developer the tools that she can use in her everyday life to be productive. One thing is certain in life: All of us will need accessibility tools at some point.”

Nov 16

efficiently passing the buck with needinfo requests

A while back, Bugzilla added this great tool called needinfo requests: you set a flag on the bug indicating that a particular person’s input is desired. X will then get something dropped into their requests page and a separate email notifying them of the needinfo request. Then, when X responds, clearing the needinfo request, you get an email notifying you that the request has been dealt with. This mechanism works much better than merely saying “X, what do you think?” in a bug comment and expecting that X will see the comment in their bugmail and respond.

My needinfo-related mail, along with all review-related mail, gets filtered into a separate folder in my email client.  It is then very obvious when I get needinfo requests, or needinfo requests that I have made have been answered.

Occasionally, however, when you get a needinfo, you will not be the correct person to answer the question, and you will need to needinfo someone else who has the appropriate knowledge…or is at least one step closer to providing the appropriate knowledge.

There is a right way and a wrong way to accomplish this. The wrong way is to clear your own needinfo request and request needinfo from someone else:


Why is this bad? Because the original requester will receive a notification that request has been dealt with appropriately, when it has not! So now they have to remember to watch the bug, or poll their bugmail, or similar to figure out when their request has been dealt with.  Additionally, you’ll get an email notification when your needinfo request has been answered, which you don’t necessarily want.

The right way (which I just discovered this week) is to uncheck the “Clear the needinfo request” box, which turns the second checkbox into a “Redirect my needinfo request”:


This method appropriately redirects the needinfo without notifying the original requester, and the original requester will (ideally) now receive a notification only when the request has been dealt with.