Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Configuring The Arduino IDE with the Java Access Bridge

Elsewhere in this blog I have discussed the relative inaccessibility of the Arduino IDE -- the free integrated development environment downloadable from arduino.org. Various rumors and suggestions have reached me about how it can be configured to work with the Java Access Bridge, but despite hours of effort I have never been able to do it myself.

Now, Ken Perry, blind maker, frequent advisor to the Blind Arduino Blog, and software engineer at the American Printing House for the Blind, has finally documented how to make the Arduino IDE work with a Windows screen reader. It is one of the early posts in what is bound to be an awesome blog on blind electronics.

It's great that Ken has finally told us how to get the Arduino IDE to work with the JAB, but I will probably continue to write code and upload from Notepad++ rather than use JAB with the IDE. This is mostly because I have concerns about the security of the Java Access Bridge, but I also feel like I have spent enough hours of my life fruitlessly wrestling with the JAB and don't feel like doing it any more. Maybe I'll try it some day when I'm feeling energized and long on patience.

For many people working in larger institutions such as schools or libraries, the JAB approach will also not be convenient because it requires extensive modification of environment variables and system-level files. Many system administrators will not like the configuration changes necessary to make the Java Access Bridge work with the Arduino IDE.

But the good news is that you can do it if you want, and Ken Perry is the hero of the day for finally telling us how. Thanks, Ken!


  1. I understand the concern about the security when using software with
    Java. If your going to be doing programming though you almost have to
    deal with Java and make sure you don't install something that causes
    your Java not to be a security risk. Java Access Bridge does not make
    a Java install any more less secure. We all know there are security
    issues with Java but that is mainly because so many people use it.
    The more people use something the less secure it is. Take Mac's for
    example. There was years where Mac's were known to be 100% secure and
    that was even when people ran Java on it. We have learned different
    over the years.

    As a developer though I have to use Java to be able to develop for
    Android. True I could use Visual studio to cross compile but
    sometimes in order to get things into a form where I can use it with
    Visual studio I have to run up Android Studio. No matter if I am
    blind or sighted that means I have to have Java and in my case I have
    to have java Access Bridge. that is one reason that my Arduino IDE
    always worked. There are many other editors and tools I use that are
    Java based. Some come with their own internal JRE's, for example

    So while I understand the fear. If you let security fears dictate the
    tools you use there are amazing tools you will not use. I make sure
    as all developers and for that matter all people using computers
    should. To only install things you know about, to run a good and
    updated virus scanner, a good and updated firewall, and finally a good
    and updated mal ware tool.

    Security should be a offensive sport not a defensive sport. You
    should not wait on your computer to tell you, you have a virus or a
    worm. You should actively keep a nose down on the trail of suspicious
    behavior on your computers part.

    If your computer starts running slow, your intern et browsers start
    crashing, people ask about a mail you didn't send, your email is
    crashing or running slow, some software appears that you don't know
    what is, or for finally if anything on your computer is not running or
    working as you expect. Then find out what is wrong just don't think
    that your computer is getting old. If there is a problem get it
    fixed. I have now ran for 13 years with out a virus, worm, or trojan
    showing up on my computer. All of that time I have been running Java
    and the access bridge. I know that is one persons story but I am
    proactive when it comes to fighting security risks and knock on wood
    so far so good.

    Just for every ones information I said 13 years. That is because my
    linux server was hacked through a bug in Apache and some Russian group
    was selling Mig Air Craft on my Server in 2013. So even then it was
    not Java and not Windows. So be careful true. Just don't live your
    life on the fear of what could be.

  2. Ken:
    Thanks so much for your comments about security. I agree that the best defense is constant vigilance and a sophisticated knowledge of potential risks. The security issue I was referring to is the unique ability of JAB to support keyloggers, but I don't think that's a terribly likely problem. I agree that if the admins of the system being used will allow it, using JAB with the Arduino IDE is the simplest and most functional approach to an accessible Arduino development environment.
    Thanks, Ken for all your help and advice with this!

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