Just announced: Level Access and eSSENTIAL Accessibility agree to merge! Read more.

There are many great tools that allow testers and developers to explore the Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) information exposed by application including Flash and Flex applications. These tools include those from Microsoft such as Object Inspector (Inspect32), Accessible Event Watcher (Event32), and Accessible Explorer (AccExplore) as well as other tools such as accProbe, aDesigner, and others.

With the Microsoft shift from MSAA to UI Automation the tools that were traditionally known as the MSAA Software Development Kit (SDK) where removed from the Microsoft site. Now they are bundled with the Windows SDK version titled “Windows SDK for Windows 7”. This is actually version 7.1 of the Windows SDK. These Microsoft MSAA tools can be found at Windows SDK version 7.1 . Select the download link and download the setup file. Upon setup select the Developer tools as well as any other parts of the SDK that you want. The applications will be installed into the program files > Microsoft SDKs > Windows > v7.x folder and can be accessed there. I find it helpful to place icons of the tools I use most on my desktop and assign shortcut keystrokes such as “control+alt+x” to activate the tool on demand.  The Windows 8.1 SDK is also available for those with Windows 8.1.

The other tools aDesigner and accProbe can be also be used in testing MSAA based applications.

Don’t forget MSAA tools can also be useful when manually testing web applications too as the IE browse exposes MSAA information for the controls. In particular it has a great focus rectangle tracker that will help in tracking down visual focus related issues.