IntelliJ IDEA 2018.3 EAP: High-Contrast Theme, and more accessibility improvements

We are very much committed to improving accessibility across our products and I’m happy to announce that with the upcoming release of IntelliJ IDEA 2018.3 we’ve made some notable improvements.

High Contrast Theme

We’ve added support for a new High Contrast Theme, which can be accessed using the drop-down list from the theme options under Preferences (Settings) | Appearance & Behaviour or via the Ctrl-` shortcut on macOS, Windows, and Linux.

HighContrastTheme

We’re still polishing it and would very much appreciate your feedback. Amongst other things we’re trying to determine is whether we should increase the default font size as well as the kerning between characters somewhat.

Better Support for screen readers

We’ve increased our support for the screen reader, allowing these to read

  • Line numbers
  • VCS annotations
  • Debugger and other gutter icons

Gutter improvements

In addition, while the focus is on the editor, the new default double shortcut [Alt + Shift + 6] + [F] can be used to focus on the gutter. Screen readers will read the line the cursor is placed on. To move between the gutter icons in the line we can use the right and left arrow keys.

When the screen reader is focused on the gutter, we can use [Alt + Shift + 6] + [T] to read a gutter icon tooltip (when it’s available for the selected element). In addition, it’s possible to browse through the tooltip content by using the arrow keys. To unfocus from the gutter and return to the editor – press the “ESC” key.

We’re hoping to extend this functionality to allow screen readers to read all Spring-specific gutter icons too.

Finally, a shout-out to Mohammed Laachir for his contributions in helping fix some accessibility issues in the tables used in dialog boxes.

To activate this new functionality, you can enable support for the screen reader via one of the following options:

1) IDE setting: Settings > Appearance & Behavior > System Settings > Support screen readers
2) JVM option: -Dide.support.screenreaders.enabled=true

More to come

A few years ago we started making improvements in this area with support for people with colour deficiencies. With the features we’re adding with this upcoming release as well as some other things we’re working on such as screen magnifiers, we hope to make not only IntelliJ IDEA but the entire IntelliJ platform accessible to as many people as possible.

The release notes are available by the link.

Download
the latest IntelliJ IDEA 2018.3 EAP build and let us know what do you think! We are looking forward to hearing your feedback, suggestions, and of course bug reports.

Happy Developing!

About Zlata Kalyuzhnaya

IntelliJ IDEA Marketing Manager at JetBrains. twitter: @ZlataKalyuzhnay ‏
This entry was posted in EAP Releases and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to IntelliJ IDEA 2018.3 EAP: High-Contrast Theme, and more accessibility improvements

  1. jtonic says:

    Hi,

    I really like the shortcuts focusing on gutter for screen readers.
    But, is there a shortcut to fire actions on the selected item in the gutter?
    For instance for the VCS annotation it would be nice to show the actions using a shortcut. The same for the VCS modifications shown in gutter.

    Kr

    • Kirill Likhodedov says:

      There are shortcuts to access VCS modification actions at the gutter. Please see “Next Changes” and “Previous Change” actions: they allow to navigate to the next/previous chunk in the file and open the popup menu with actions. When the popup opens, you can use shortcuts to invoke available actions, e.g. Show Diff, Move Lines to Another Changelist and others.

      Note that you can use Cmd+Alt+Z (Ctrl+Alt+Z) at any time to revert the chunk if the cursor is staying inside a modified chunk.

    • Kirill Likhodedov says:

      When annotations are visible, you can invoke actions on them (e.g. Annotate Previous Revision) via a shortcut as well. It was implemented very recently, see the previous EAP blog post (https://blog.jetbrains.com/idea/2018/10/whats-new-in-intellij-idea-2018-3-eap-5/) for details.

  2. Deon Nel says:

    Thanks Zlata This is a very big improvement!!! Now the only thing missing is screen reader magnification focus tracking… Thanks for all the effort. Is it possible to disable the horizontal lines on the high contrast theme whenever there’s a gutter icon? makes it look like the code is in a grid/table which makes it confusing to read at times

    • Olga Berdnikova says:

      Hi Deon! Could you please provide a screenshot with the horizontal lines you are talking about?

    • Zlata Kalyuzhnaya says:

      Hi Deon! Good to hear that it’s improving your experience with the IntelliJ IDEA! We are currently working on adding support for Screen Magnifiers to IntelliJ platform. It seems that we won’t be able to deliver this feature with the upcoming 2018.3 release. It’s among our priorities and we do our best in order to implement it as soon as possible, but at this moment I can’t give you any ETA.

  3. John says:

    I’m visually impaired and have problems using the Darcula theme on my Win10 PC. I can’t quite calibarte the monitor to a point where I can comfortably use it. (I’ve also had properly sighted colleagues abandon it because they can’t read the sidebar properly either).

    So a high contrast theme is a good idea.; The one that’s there fixes some problems – it makes the sidebar nice and easy to read, and improves readability of the settings dialogs etc.

    However I have a few issues with it:

    1. The code editor really doesn’t have high contrast at all. The text is so dimmed I can barely read it. It’s significantly worse than using Darcula and just setting the background colour to black. When words are highlighted I can’t read them at all. Also, when I switched the font size went tiny for some reason.

    2. The white lines are really ugly. Please can I turn that option off? (The only place I appreciate them is at the edge of panes like the sidebar or the bottom panes because it makes it easier to see where to drag and resize which I always struggled with before.) I’m sure I’ll get used to it though.

    3. If I make a change to a git controlled file, then the highlighted tab is impossible to read. It’s a sort of greenish colour on a blue background.

    4. If I have exclouded files in my project list, then they are also really hard to read – a mid-tone grey with red on top doesn’t work for me.

    But I would say that setting High Contrast theme plus modified Darcula code editor and putting up with bits I can’t read is still an improvement for me.

    However, would would be much better would be to just make the themes customisable. I’ve been using the Material Theme plugin, and if you could just build that sort of thing into the core product then it’s going to cater for all tastes. (Only thing I don’t like about it is I find the theme editor a little hard to use.)

    One other point – please fix the Deployment Configuration Excluded Paths dialog. If I increase the font size of intellij, the dialog is unusable because all the buttons disappear off the bottom of the screen. I reported it a while ago

    But any accessibility improvements are very much to be applauded, and are appreciated.

    • Olga Berdnikova says:

      John, thank you for the detailed feedback!

      >1. The code editor really doesn’t have high contrast at all. The text is so dimmed I can barely read it. It’s significantly worse than using Darcula and just setting the background colour to black. When words are highlighted I can’t read them at all.

      The editor scheme will be updated in the next EAP. Please see and tell what you think!

      > Also, when I switched the font size went tiny for some reason.

      Do you have a non-default setting for editor font size?

      >2. The white lines are really ugly. Please can I turn that option off? (The only place I appreciate them is at the edge of panes like the sidebar or the bottom panes because it makes it easier to see where to drag and resize which I always struggled with before.) 

      Updated the borders to be a bit less bright. Please see in the next EAP.

      >3. If I make a change to a git controlled file, then the highlighted tab is impossible to read. It’s a sort of greenish colour on a blue background.
      >4. If I have exclouded files in my project list, then they are also really hard to read – a mid-tone grey with red on top doesn’t work for me.

      Going to fix that in the upcoming EAPs.

      > make the themes customisable

      We’ve been considering this as the next step. Unfortunately, cannot tell any particular ETA at the moment.

      > please fix the Deployment Configuration Excluded Paths dialog

      Please tell me the number of that report. I will ask for an update on this.

      • John says:

        Thank you – looking forward to the next EAP.

        Regarding the font size, I have increased the overall IDE font size (under Appearance) and also changed the editor font to be Fira Code and a bit bigger.

        The problem with the deployment window is in issue WI-26465

  4. Sergei Stepanov says:

    DO not switch to new contrast, it will be not possible switch back to darcula!! editor will be still in high contrast.

  5. John says:

    Forgot this EAP also had a new plugins UI, so thought I’d check it out and the contrast there is really poor (for me). The whole UI actually looks disabled. It’s not a high contrast theme thing as it was the same with darcula. Is that intentional? I think the new layout is good, but the only text I can read is when it’s white and bold – the descriptions, or the plugin names that aren’t highlighted just fade into the background.

    • Zlata Kalyuzhnaya says:

      Hi John, thank you for one more valuable comment! This is a known issue and we plan to fix it as soon as possible. Sorry, can’t give you any ETA.
      By the way, the new EAP has arrived, check the changes we made in the High Contrast theme and let us know what do you think. https://www.jetbrains.com/idea/nextversion/

      • John says:

        It’s definitely getting there.

        If I have a file with uncommitted changes, the tab is still pretty hard to read.

        In the editor, the contrast on warnings isn’t very good. E.g. if I have a “public” method that could be package-private, the “public” is highlighted in such a way that the foreground and background colours blend into each other.

        Also, the terminal background colour is very pale.

        I’d still prefer not to have the white lines round things, but I’ve got used to them now so they aren’t too bad. I do find that where a panel is resizable the white line sometimes appears, and doesn’t disappears depending on where it’s dragged to. Might be because I’ve got an increased UI font, or because my Windows DPI is set to 130%. Not a big deal, but that’s the only place that I find those lines helpful.

        • Zlata Kalyuzhnaya says:

          Thank you, John, for your feedback. We plan to continue our work on High Contrast theme. We are going to make loads of improvements to this theme before the release. So please use the latest build of the upcoming IJ 2018.3 and keep sharing your suggestions with us!

        • Olga Berdnikova says:

          Thanks!

          >If I have a file with uncommitted changes, the tab is still pretty hard to read.

          Please check the latest EAP. Is it still hard to read?

          The terminal background should also be fixed in the latest EAP.

          Not sure we can get rid of the white lines because it might make the borders unreadable for some people. Will look into the border not disappearing after dragging.

          Will also look into the keyword on warning colors

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