Category Archives: testing

Testing ATbar – responsive design version

tablets used for testingA group of us met up over lunch to test ATbar on a series of portable devices.  This was very much a ‘beta’ testing session with critical friends.  We filled in a test form and the results were analysed.




Some problems still need to be resolved namely:

  • size of icons on smart phones
  • selecting text for text to speech – Samsung Galaxy with Honeycomb does not work
  • exiting ATbar does not necessarily mean the speech stops
  • Windows tablet using Chrome does not allow for zoom by stretch and pinch
  • iPad with Safari seems to produce variable results,  in particular with text highlighting
  • highlighting text for text to speech is not easy

It is clear that the only way ATbar can work with mobile web browsers is to have the toolbar embedded in the website’s code.  It cannot be added to mobile browsers as a bookmarklet. If the toolbar is embedded the toolbar will load as it does on a desktop browser offering coloured overlays, text to speech and other text enhancements and accessibility options.

Responsive design for ATbar

mobile ATbarATbar has taken on a new look that will work on mobile technologies – it has become responsive – we are testing it at present but in the coming weeks we hope to release a version that allows tablet and mobile phone users to easily access all parts of ATbar including text to speech with a new player.

It may not be necessary to have text to speech as an option on some tablets and mobile as operating systems such as iOS offer VoiceOver and a speak feature when sections of web pages are highlighted but some other mobile operating systems do not offer this option.  You can now highlight words and select the speaker icon and ATbar will read out the content.

We are still trying to resolve the issue of adding bookmarks to mobile web browsers but this is a challenge that we reckon we should be able to overcome! Watch this spot.

Atbar spellingOther updates have included improved design for the spell checker with easier to read drop down boxes and other dialog boxes are becoming easier to use being less affected by websites cascading style sheets.  It has also been noted that the ATbar spell checker often catches misspellings more accurately than some browser options!  The spelling checker has a way of learning from mistakes thanks to the collection of the mistakes collected – when used it asked users to accept the correction each time – now it will only asks once.

Obviously all these aspects of ATbar will be available in Arabic and English.  It is hoped that when we have our symbol dictionary working in web pages, ATbar will help users select symbols with speech output.

ATbar access to Google docs, Facebook and Twitter improved plus other updates

atbar google docsThere have been recent updates to make the tool-bar more robust and compatible with browsers and the results have meant increased access to Google docs, Facebook (except Chrome at present) and Twitter – the text to speech and word prediction work when you change the background look and feel using the painter’s palate  (change page style).   The colour overlay can be toggled on an off for all websites and works with click through so you can go to another site even if you have the coloured overlay in place.

Work on the style sheet issues has also meant that the dialog boxes in ATbar do not always take on the style sheet of the target website.  This also saves time when implementing new plugins and adding new things to the tool-bar as there are less style clashes so it is easier to customise the tool-bar for particular websites.

TTS logos

The latest version of the Festival Speech Synthesis System is now available as an option on the ATbar Market place website. The Festival plugin works in a similar way to the commercial Acapela TTS plugin.

ATbar now works with all the free speech synthesisers such as eSpeak and Mbrola but the quality of some of the voices is still a challenge for most listeners.


ATbar testing for Quarterly Reports

ATbar text to speechUp to this point we have had to test all the ATbar plugins manually for both languages.  This takes time and there is no way of recording the results in order to share the information other than in Excel spreadsheets or Word documents.

Online TATbar testingesting

 automated testingMagnus has developed a testing system that not only allows us to record manual checks but also offers the chance for automated checks to take place on certain plugins.  To date these include the following plugins in both languages.  

  • Dictionary
  • Spell checker
  • Text to Speech
  • Word Prediction



Arabic testing

Manual tests are carried out on all plugins that affect the look and feel of the web page as a result of using the ATbar, these include:

  • Text resizing
  • Font changes
  • Readbility
  • Style changes
  • Colour overlays.

testing system

A series of well known websites in both languages are chosen for each test and the results are noted in a form with comments that is submitted to a database.  The automated test results are recorded in a similar way.

Both manual and automated results can now be seen in a report form alongside the statistics for toolbar uses.  The reports are live and can be viewed at any time.  The ATbar testing page with report link is available on the services page.

ATbar usesThe report showing the toolbar uses currently has monthly, last month, this year and total uses in both languages – these appear as a table and can be printed out.


The plugin tests can be seen as a report with each plugin listed on the left of the table with total number of tests undertaken, number of successes and failures plus the percentage success and fail rate.

There have been some problems with returning results for the Arabic language due to retrieving UTF_8 characters from the database and encoding them to pass to the services API in order to test some plugins automatically.  This is clearly a technical localisation issue and one that needs to be carefully analysed so that it can become part of the localisation framework guidance.  Magnus and Russell finally solved the problem by checking the entire stack of dependencies – such as the database, web server, runtime and framework – the solution was changing the default settings in the runtime and framework to enable UTF_8 transfers.  These new settings concord with those set in the database, to enable storage of text in the Arabic language. As such, we now support the Arabic language end-to-end, from database level through to the web server and browser.

One of the most vulnerable areas when testing has been the return at speed of the voices for the text to speech.  This has been shortened to 2 seconds in recent months but we have noticed some lapses that may be related to the Insipio TTS servers causing intermittent availability as we have been unable to trace any other reasons at the moment.  Insipio have always been incredibly helpful when issues have arisen.

Finally the testing system devised is still on trial and there is every intention to make further improvements with more automated tests that will be more accurate.  This will allow us to return tests that can tell the difference between a failure and no returned data.  Work is on going and it is hoped we will have the new features available soon.