Installation Issues With the JAWS Scripts For Visual Studio Code
Doug Lee

This document explains what happened on Saturday, March 9, 2024, during the release of the collaborative JAWS scripts for Visual Studio Code by Jeff Bishop and this author, Doug Lee. The events on Saturday caused this author to retract the scripts until further investigation and resolution could be achieved. The resulting re-release, the only change being in documentation and script revision number, was published on Monday, March 11. The new release included a Zip alongside the installer, together with instructions on how to install from the Zip if necessary. This installation would fix any problems resulting from an incomplete installation of the first release.

Revision history of this document:

March 11, 2024
Initial publication.

Types of Trouble Reports

There were two types of trouble reports:

  1. Windows Defender complaints: For some users, Windows Defender flagged the script installer as possibly containing malware. (The identification of malware was accomplished via a heuristic algorithm, indicated in the Windows Defender report by a trailing "ml" (for "machine learning") on the tag identifying what was found.) This complaint was determined to be a false positive. This is a common problem for software installers, especially for frequently updated or not widely used software. All remaining material in this document refers to the other report type.
  2. Installer failure error message, then report of success, then no scripts found: Some users' installations were interrupted with a failure message. This was then followed by a report of success, but JAWSKey+Q in Visual Studio Code thereafter did not indicate that the scripts were running. The precise cause of this issue was not determined; but since the users reporting this issue were using a previous version of the scripts and reported loss of that functionality, the initial release of these scripts was retracted to allow time for investigation without further reduction of user script functionality.

Possible Causes of the Installation Error Issues

Two possible causes were identified, of which this author considers the second to be most likely among reports received:

  1. Microsoft's deprecation of VBScript: In October of 2023, Microsoft announced the intention to deprecate the VBScript language, with eventual plans to remove support for the language from Windows. This plan was not expected to result in script installer problems by the time of this script release, but the language explaining Microsoft's plans did not include a specific timeline for removal of support. Absence of VBScript support could produce the reported messages and results, because the script installer includes some VBScript code to manage situations when Freedom Scientific provides scripts for the same application for which scripts are being installed. (Freedom Scientific has been distributing a small script set for Visual Studio Code starting in JAWS 2021.)
  2. Collision of old and new custom scripts: The script installer builds two files during installation that would already have been present for people who used the older custom scripts. Adverse interaction between script versions could occur if the installer modified those files, and error messages would result if the installer did not modify them. The files in question are VisualStudioCode.jss and VisualStudioCode.jsb.

Reason For Script Retraction

The specific reason for the script release retraction on Saturday was the apparent reduction in functionality being caused by attempts to install the new scripts over a previous set of Visual Studio Code scripts that had been distributed by Jeff without an installer. In typical "do no harm" fashion, the retraction was meant to prevent further reduction in functionality immediately for members of Jeff's BITS class, where a significant number of participants were reportedly using the original scripts and wanting to use the updated version.