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Vincent Le Goff, 10/04/2016 07:14 PM


CocoMUD basics

CocoMUD is a MUD client specifically designed to enhance accessibility with screen readers. It supports a native TTS (Text-to-Speech) for most common screen readers on Windows, as well as Braille.

This document aims at explaining the basic features of CocoMUD client in a practical way, to tell you what you can do with it and how to do it. More complex features will have a document of their own.

When opening CocoMUD

When opening CocoMUD, it should display a list of configured servers (or worlds, in MUD client terminology). It's a list, you can select another world by pressing the arrow keys or move more quickly by typing the first letters of a server. It's possible that the server you would like to connect to doesn't appear in the list: you may need to add it before going on.

When you have selected the world to which to connect, press RETURN (or click on the connect button).

The client's main window

CocoMUD client's main window is divided into two: on top is an input field where you can enter commands. Below it, taking most of the screen, is the output field (where you see the results of your commands). It's a read-only text field, so you can browse through it with the arrow keys, PageUp and Down, select and copy text, go back to the beginning or the end, and so on.

To navigate between these two areas, just press Tab. The cursor should move between the input field and the output field. If you begin typing in the output field, the cursor will go back to the input field.

When you press RETURN on a world, CocoMUD tries to connect to the server. If everything goes well, the client connects and the welcome message of the server is displayed in the output field (you can press Tab to see it). The welcome message should also be sent to the screen reader (and, if you have a Braille display, you should see it there as well). Most MUD servers will ask for your username and password. If you're asked for your password, CocoMUD automatically hides what you're typing and it won't appear in the command history either.

The command history

When you are in the input field (where you can type commands), you can use the up and down arrow keys to move through the command history. The command history is fed each time you type a command (except for passwords, that will not appear there). If you press the up arrow key, you will see the command you have sent previously. Up again will show you the previous command, and so on. You can press RETURN at any time to send the command again.

When you navigate into the command history, you might notice something a bit unsettling: when you go up and down, then press RETURN, the cursor is not moved back to the end of the history. The input field will be cleared (so you can type another command), but if you move up and down again, you will see the commands directly surrounding the previous command you just typed.

Let's take an example, with a history that looks like this:

inventory
look into bag
wield sword

If you press twice on the up arrow key, you will be prompted with the "look into bag" command. If you press RETURN at this point, the command will be sent to the MUD again. If you then press the down arrow key, you will be prompted with the "wield sword" command. This mechanism is very useful when you have to retype several commands, but it might be disconcerting when unaware.

The menu bar

Some options are accessible through the menu bar. In File -> Preferences, you will see some settings that you can modify to have your experience with CocoMUD more comfortable.

The preferences

When you select File -> Preferences in the menu bar, or press Alt + Enter, you should see a dialog with several tabs. The first tab (selected by default) is general. It only contains the language selection for the time being. CocoMUD should be in the language of your system, if it is translated in this language. Otherwise, English should be selected.

In the display tab, you can select a different encoding. By default, CocoMUD is set to use a Latin encoding, but you can change it. If you connect to only-English MUDs, you may not need this setting.

In the accessibility tab are several options that affect accessibility. Here they are, in more details:

  • Go to the end of output when pressing Tab: by default, when you press Tab in the input field, CocoMUD will put the cursor at the end of the output field. This is not always comfortable and can be disabled here.
  • Add a new line at the end of the output: when a message is received from a server, a new line will be added at the end, which is often expected, but can be disabled if it slows you down.
  • Enable TTS (Text-to-Speech): you can here disable the TTS (Text-to-Speech). The TTS is what sends the content of the output field to your screen reader. Sometimes, it's really not necessary, and you can turn it off.
  • Enable TTS on a different window: by default, CocoMUD client enables its TTS even if you're not currently in the CocoMUD application. It means that, you can be reading a web page, or a book, or sending an email, and suddenly your screen reader starts on the messages you have received on the MUD. As this can be useful, this can sometimes be annoying, so you can turn this option off to let TTS only speak when you are in the CocoMUD client.

Adding a world

If you want to add a new world, in the world selection (when the client opens), select the add button. You will be asked three information:

  • The world's name: what name should the world be given? Most likely, you will use the MUD's name, like Alter Aeon or T2T.
  • The server's hostname.
  • The server's port number.

The name, hostname and port number can be changed if needed. Notice, however, that the name is used to determine the location. This will be a directory created for the world in which settings are stored. If you change the name, the location won't be changed.

Once you have created a new world, it will appear in the world list and you will be able to connect to it.

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