|Special formatting for this forum|
Message #33 Posted by James M. Prange on 9 Aug 2004, 6:29 a.m.,
in response to message #30 by Veli-Pekka Nousiainen
I don't greatly object if you choose to use [pre]...[/pre] codes
for ordinary text, as long as you keep the lines reaonably short.
As it is, I'd have to scroll far to the right if I really wanted
to read the entire lines that you quoted, and it wasn't
immediately clear to me that you were quoting a previous post.
After all, there are special codes for quoting, and I've come to
expect a quote to have a particular appearance in this forum.
Without any formatting codes, the text is presented to me in a
proportional width font, and, regardless of the font size and
display resolution, the text is "flowed" to fit the window width
(as long as my window isn't too narrow). The wrapping treats
spaces and single newline codes interchangeably, treating either
as a word separator and potential line break position, and
starting a new paragraph (defined as a blank line) only when two
consecutive newline codes occur. Overall, it's very nice for
reading, and you don't force the reader to see a particular line
length, leaving it up to him instead; much like reading html
formatted text. In fact, the forum software presents it to my
browser as html code, and lets my browser present it to me
appropriately. If I really want to see how the author wrote a
post, I can always use the "Edit Message" button to effectively
view the source as it was written into the "text area", although
of course I won't be able to actually post an edited version of
someone else's post. For example, if you look at this post that
way, and copy the text to a text editor, you'll find that the
lines, as I wrote them, don't exceed 66 characters, because that's
what I have my text editor set up for.
On usenet, I find that "format=flowed" often seems to create more
problems than its intended benefits. Quoting and keeping quoted
lines to a reasonable length, in particular, seems to be a problem
with that format in newsreaders. But here on the Forum, the
equivalent formatting seems to work quite nicely.
If you really want to force a new line without a new paragraph,
you can always use a [nl] code. See my signature (by trying to
edit my posts) for example. The list formatting codes also start
each list item on a new line; very nice where appropriate.
On the other hand, for some things, such as program listings and
tabular data, reformatted text would make it difficult to read as
the author intended. This is where the [pre]...[/pre] codes are
especially useful. The font is fixed width (so tables and numerals
in columns line up correctly and indenting is as intended), and
the line breaks are respected. Of course you can use these codes
for ordinary text if you prefer. But one should be careful to keep
the preformatted lines short enough that they can reasonably be
expected to fit into the window without requiring scrolling to the
right to see the rest of the line. I suppose that a maximum line
length of about 80 characters would be appropriate.
Quoting is sometimes appropriate, particularly when responding to
only a small part of a post or on a point by point basis. But
quoting is less needed on this forum than on usenet, where the
referenced post may not be available on any particular server.
Here, if we can see your post, it's certain that we can also see
the referenced post, unless it's been deleted. This also makes
attribution less important; unless otherwise indicated, we can
reasonably assume that you're quoting whomever you replied to,
which we can clearly see. But I would like to have a option for a
[quote=person] style of quote, where the name is included for
Overall, the special formatting codes on this forum are very nice.
The superscripts and subscripts are especially appropriate in a
forum where mathematical notation is often desired.
I suggest using the "Preview First" button whenever you have any
doubts about how your post will look, and referring to the
page (perhaps in another tab or window) when it doesn't
look as you intended.
Of course, we should always try to get it right the first time,
but errors do occur, so editing is often appropriate, particularly
if no one has replied to the post yet. But, as far as I know, I
can only edit a post that I've included a password with, so I make
it a habit to do so.
Edited: 9 Aug 2004, 6:51 a.m.