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Reinventing the forum editor

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Below are the most irritating or time consuming issues with the forum editor according to my experience, and what I think could be done to address the problems.


This idea is not meant to provide an update to previous discussions and is rather an attempt to find ways to improve user experience. Feel free to add your thoughts, but if possible, please try to address problems and suggestions regarding the user interface or editing concepts.




Additional information:


Syntax Highlighting Features

List of forum editor issues and bugs

Most annoying editor problems




1. Rich-text content


When copying and pasting content from another web browser window, terminal and other sources, the editor retrains the original rich-text formatting, which does usually not match the standard editor text format. The editor can often not remove background color or refuses to continue to write in the standard text format. This is especially a problem with the Inbox where the editor does not provide advanced editing features. The situation may require to switch to html mode in order to remove conflicting code segments, or use an OS editor like Notepad or TextEdit to process text prior to pasting.

The solution could be a button in the editor toolbar, like "plain text", that could be switched on or enabled on demand and convert the clipboard by removing any rich-text content when pasting it into the forum editor window. Copied content should then be displayed in the default editor font and style and the user can then apply other styles and formatting if necessary.



2. Default font size


Depending on computer platform and hardware, the default font size of text can be very inconvenient, for example, too large or too small. Zooming the web page or changing default font settings in the web browser are not always feasible since they affect the overall appearance and can break web page functions depending on the resulting screen size.

There should be a user preference to specify a default font size or a default zoom factor that applies only to the current user account, affecting only text displayed in the editor and when browsing discussion content.



3. Drafts and export



The editor does not provide any option to save content as draft or to save it as a file on the local computer. This can be an inconvenience when working with complex content that is not ready to be posted yet, for example, if more information needed. Btw, Save questions and discussions as draft

Provide a "Save" option in the editor toolbar to allow the user to save content as draft on the OTN system, or as a file on the local computer. The later may also be useful to make private backup copies.






The screen width of the editor is not the same size when browsing discussions. This can make it often difficult to quickly locate text in the editor to make last minute corrections.

Make the window width of the editor and content browser the same size by using a fixed value, also depending on the default font size or zoom setting as mentioned earlier.


5. Posting history


It is not possible to display the full posting history when responding to a discussion and working in the advanced editor. The situation requires to open another browser window to review the original post, which is inconvenient and risks to accidentally overwrite the current editor window, thereby losing the content.

Add a second window above the editor window, which allows to scroll back the complete posting history, or select a response number or range.



6. Window warning


There is currently no warning when reloading the editor page or opening another web page into the same browser tab or window, or when closing the browser window. This can easily happen by mistake when working with several browser tabs and results in the loss of the editor session.

Provide an alert dialog when overwriting the current editor window or when attempting to close the browser window while there is an open editing session.


7. Spell Checker


The current spell checker does not provide a custom dictionary and does generally not work properly when working with multiple pages. The user experience also depends on browser type and version.All web browsers worth mentioning ship with a built-in spell checker. There should be a way to take advantage of it.


8. Auto Format



When pasting text, the editor attempts to convert structured text to table. This rarely produces wanted results. Ways to work around this problem depend on browser version and can be complex.

In addition to the idea of a "plain text" button for the clipboard, the editor should also not attempt to apply any rich-text formatting when pasting programming code.



9. Programming code



Currently available options to insert and edit programing code under Code Highlighting do not work properly or are unreliable among different web browsers and versions. A static font for code, like Courier 10, is also not always the best idea, for instance, when working with long lines of comments.

There should be an "insert code" button in the editor toolbar that inserts an empty box similar to inserting a quote. Unless there is a reliable and compatible way to mask line numbers among different web browsers, line numbers are not required, or should be made optional. Pasting text into the code window should automatically remove rich-text formatting, similar to the "plain-text" button, and must not apply any auto formatting. Text in the code box should default to a fixed width font, but it should still be possible to apply different font styles, size and color.



10. To be continued...



(Content is subject to further editing)


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