Rethinking the Composer - lowering the bar


(Mittineague) #1

There are several topics here where members have asked for a more complex feature rich editor, or have expressed problems as a result of Markdown syntax not being understood.

I’m wondering if having a “text as plain text only” default with an option to use Markdown syntax might help?

I understand how Markdown works.
I fail to see the need to have “styling” options which to me are more appropriate for blog posts than they are for topic discussion.

But perhaps even what options that are currently available are too much for the typical member to grasp and would be better moved to an “advanced user” option.

That is, instead of someone unfamiliar with anything more than plain text needing to learn Markdown to make a plain text post look like plain text, they would need to proactively choose to use Markdown syntax, the assumption being that they understand how to use it before they use it.

I know work on the editor is slated, so now may be a better time to bring up this idea before a lot of code is (re)written.


(Tom Newsom) #2

I’d have thought plaintext & images (not <img src = blah blalh blah>!) would be enough.
It’s enough for facebook, after all!


(Mittineague) #3

And I imagine for others plaintext and links would be enough, others, plaintext and lists etc. etc.

IMHO what is currently available is not only enough, but for most posts more than enough.

I think it could be debated from now until the next millennium about what formatting features are essential and that even then no matter what decision was reached there would be some that were dissatisfied.

I’m thinking more in terms of a hard extreme no-parsing at all default.
That is, for newbies giving no formatting options at all, with the option to learn how to do more when / if needed.

Going into “advanced” territory would indicate an interest in knowing more about formatting.

There would still more than likely be problems, but there would hopefully be less posts that were poorly formatted “by accident”


(Jeff Atwood) #4

A “plain text only” mode is certainly the most viable outcome of that discussion. We’ve discussed simplifying the editor a fair bit:

And for anyone who has questions about Markdown, share this URL far and wide. (We do link that in every welcome PM as of March 2016 or so.)

Markdown Reference


(Rob Nicholson) #5

Excuse my ignorance but why can’t an editor be implemented that uses markdown behind the scenes but is WYSIWYG? There was a similar thread over on StackOverflow:

It was mentioned that the CKeditor now can work in markdown. Even if CKeditor isn’t fit for purpose, surely the team behind Discourse could considering writing their own? How hard can it be :wink:

I accept (even if I don’t understand the technicalities) that switching between HTML and Markdown is problematic but if Markdown has a future, then a good WYSIWYG editor would be an ideal companion?


(Jeff Atwood) #6

It is extremely difficult, as the code makes deep assumptions about the Markdown pipeline throughout. I would estimate a budget of around $100,000 - $120,000 USD to make the WYSIWYG change and 1 year of full time developer work. (Or two full time devs for 6 months). If you would like to fund it, contact us directly.

Another way to look at it — this is like saying I prefer MySQL, can’t you guys just switch your database from Postgres to MySQL?


(Andrew Waugh) #7

How about having a basic composer and an advanced one?

User could define their default mode in preferences, and the composer could have a mode switch function in the top right corner.

(and a save as draft would be nice)

Andrew


(Jeff Atwood) #8

Server-side draft saves are automatic as you type. That’s been present since the project launched in 2013.


(Andrew Waugh) #9

Yes, I’ve seen the message flash up at the bottom of the screen. I’m thinking more from the standpoint of a POS (Plain Old User).

Part way through composing something a new PM arrives, or someone replies to a post of yours. If you then go to reply to the PM or the Reply then you need another composer. System then gives you the option of “Yes Abandon” and “No Keep”. I’d like to be able to save a draft, preferably with a named link in my bookmarks and the possibility of naming the draft (“My incredibly long post about how to us the editor”), or even the name “DRAFT of Reply to “Topic name””.

Once the user actually hits “reply” then they don’t need the draft any more, so you could remove it.


(Sam Saffron) #10

As a workaround you can send PMs to yourself


(Jeff Atwood) #11

I do agree there should be a way to dismiss the editor when you are sure you want to compose the rest of the post on a different device or what have you.

Draft saving is always implicit and automatic, the only missing piece is explicitly dismissing the editor if you get halfway through replying to one topic, and decide you want to reply to a different topic, etc.

Something like that, not sure what the text would be, but the button would essentially reset the editor so you don’t have the draft following you around from topic to topic etc.