Optional Simplified Reply Box

(Ross Bollinger) #1

I’m a freelance animator and have never been an active forum user, but Discourse is changing that for me, and I am eagerly monitoring its development.

For an average internet user like myself coming primarily from a social media environment, visible Markdown or BBCode within the reply box feels disorienting. For most forum users, I imagine that this goes virtually unnoticed, but for the average person it could be overwhelming at first and potentially dissuading to new users.

I started wondering if maybe there was a way we could offer a simplified reply box as an optional setting, and I did a few mock-ups incorporating some of my favorite elements from the functionality of Basecamp as well as Gmail and Facebook.

The simplifed reply box would basically look like an email, and you would also have a slim option that would shrink to the width of the sidebar, so you could easily read responses while formulating your reply.

Here’s the expanded version:

And here’s the slim version:

The expanded version would be quite similar to the current reply box except that it would have the code-less functionality of an email. I removed a couple of the formatting icons such as horizontal rules in my design, but as to which functions would and would not be present in the simplified view, that could be the topic of an entirely different discussion. My main suggestion is just this notion of an optional, code-less reply box, and the possibility for a slim setting.

As I am new to the discussion, I apologize if I am suggesting something that has been already been proposed. Either way, I am very much on board with Discourse and excited to see it continue to unfold!

(Sigurður Guðbrandsson) #2

If this would be a WYSIWYG editor, then I’d be on board. Although - you would have to add all current functionality into the edit bar.
Alternatively, if I could easily switch from WYSIWYG to raw, then I’d also be all for it.

(Michael Downey) #3

Agreed, if there could be an editor like Hallo.js - Editing Markdown in WYSIWYG that could switch between Markdown or visual mode (rather than both) it might be quite a nice change.

(Jeff Atwood) #4

You are aware of “Hide Preview”?



(Ross Bollinger) #5

Yes, I am aware of the hide preview feature, but what if there was a way to hide the code view and type directly into the preview? The idea is that it would eliminate the need to deal with any code, which for most current forum users isn’t be a big deal but would smooth the transition for people coming from email/social media environments; perhaps an option that the admin could set as a default.

(Ross Bollinger) #6

But even if it were a default, still giving the user the option to switch between WYSISYG and raw as @sigurdur suggests.

(Jeff Atwood) #7

What code would they be typing? Usually it’s just words, like these, so the distinction between “this is code” and “this is some words I just typed” …?

Just type words and submit, unless you “need” bold or italic or bullets, that stuff can be ignored.

(Sigurður Guðbrandsson) #8

Clever … never noticed this …

(Sam Saffron) #9

The core issue is that you can never “reliably” go back to a limited WYSIWIG UI from markdown, there are just too many rules.

You could possibly allow for a “limited WYSIWIG” editor, but that would only apply to new posts and once people go in and edit raw you could be hosed.

HTML to markdown is not a trivial problem to-markdown - an HTML to Markdown converter written in JavaScript in a very constrained world it may work though.

(Sigurður Guðbrandsson) #10

Actually, this :arrow_down: worked really well for me in the beginning…

(Ross Bollinger) #11

But for example, when you drag an image into your post, you get the html < img src=somecrazystuff etc. > It’s not necessarily the act of typing code, just seeing it mixed in with the text.

If there was a “simple” mode that didn’t have to expose the user to this stuff, giving them basic Facebook/Gmail-style functionality it would be very helpful for attracting people who aren’t used to forums, but I realize I may be asking a lot and that a so-called “simple” mode may be anything but.

(Jeff Atwood) #12

Is dragging an image into a post a common activity? I don’t think it is.

(Michael Downey) #13

Well, to be fair, the same UX happens no matter how you get the image into the post. For me, I usually copy screenshot images to the clipboard then paste in the editor to save time on the workflow.