Firefox 3.5 RC1, Dragon 10 and TSF

Okay, so the main reason I was looking forward to Firefox 3.5 was the promise of Text Services Framework support. TSF’s relevant function is to support dictation into text fields, while keeping the ability to select and correct by voice. You can still dictate into text fields that don’t have TSF enabled, but your words  or punctuation may run together,  or your correction may not take. So, TSF is a step in the right direction, and I cheerfully downloaded the release candidate of Firefox 3.5.

I figured I would try dictating directly into this post field to test TSF. Surprise! The Select-and-Say indicator on the Dragon bar remains dark. While I can dictate and make limited corrections, some words still run together and the insertion point will stop just before punctuation marks if I try to return to the end of the line after the correction. Occasionally, I can’t select or correct words at all. Continuous dictation, however, seems to be okay, so I can still do it in a pinch — just don’t expect full capability. In short, nothing is really broken — it’s just that nothing has been fixed, either. It’s the same old Firefox. Stick with the Dictation Box or Word or something as a buffer.

I can continue to use Firefox as I normally would, because everything else is still vocally accessible. And 3.5 has some cool features, such as private browsing. In addition, their options menu has gotten slightly voice-friendlier, as well as plain user friendly. You no longer have to go through the about: config menu in order to turn off suggestions in the address bar;  simply look under Tools — Options — Privacy.  Press Alt-U,  say “nothing,” and press Enter. (Then tab to OK and press Enter again, because the OK and Cancel buttons still can’t be spoken.)

I do like some of the new settings, and I’m glad that nothing major got broken. Firefox will continue to be my default browser, and when the stable version of 3.5 ships, I’ll download it and continue to use it. But I really hope that the omission of TSF support is a temporary setback, and that they will fully implement it in the stable version of 3.5.I might do a more mainstream review of 3.5 after I mess around a bit, but wanted to give a heads up about the elusive TSF.

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