Easier access to text formatting in comments

  1. I suspect those icons are familiar to almost all web users and don’t need translation, but as a native English speaker I might be assuming too much.

  2. I think you’re saying that adding markdown support might change the display of existing comment text, which could be a problem. An option to toggle markdown on and off might be a way around that. If the format change just applies to new comments that unintentionally use markdown conventions, I think people can live with that.

  3. I concur with @jdmore that showing markdown text unparsed in apps could confuse many people. How long is the “little while” it might take to have markdown available in apps, too? If it’s only a few months it might be better to wait.

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Most use of markdown is going to look like

I **really** think this is *Amsinckia*.

which doesn’t look too weird to me. But yes, we could add a toggle. I don’t love that option b/c it means markdown works in some places but not all places, and every single place where you can add text we would have to add a little checkbox that says “Markdown?” which seems like an extreme amount of complexity to handle a few edge cases like my weird key-tracing habit. Much easier to both implement and understand if markdown simply works everywhere you can enter text on iNat.

“A little while” is going to mean a few weeks in Android and maybe months for the iPhone.

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Checking an example of markdown, I agree that there should be few instances where unformatted markdown would be confusing.

Taking that into account, a few weeks or months with a small percentage of users taking advantage of markdown doesn’t seem like it will generate large amounts of ambiguous content. So the effort (and clutter) required to add a toggle seems unnecessary, and I don’t think you need to wait until all platforms are ready.

BTW, will content already formatted with HTML tags continue to show correctly after this change?

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It should not change. We have way too much existing HTML to abandon it.

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I concur, raw markdown seems self-explanatory when a reader considers the contextual clues. A toggle could generate confusion for those who do not know what markdown is. Stay simple. Just my opinion, and perhaps my comments are limited to English orthography.

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Standard markdown has a simple escaping mechanism for disabling unwanted markdown. So your example could be fixed like this:

1\. Hairy patella
4\. Red tail
18\. Falcate toes

Will the iNat implementation support that? Even if an on/off button was easy to implement, it would be far too crude, since it would always affect the whole text. What’s really needed is a simple way to disable markdown only for certain parts of the text.

We’re not going to write our own Markdown parser, so yes, we should support that if any of the parsers we use support full standard Markdown. The problem isn’t really how to not write new Markdown, it’s what to do about existing unintentional Markdown. Like we could edit all existing comments that look like an ordered list in Markdown and escape them but… that seems potentially error-prone.

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Yes - I was just suggesting that they could be fixed manually by the comment owners, since there’s unlikely to be many of them. A programming solution isn’t really required - users just need to made aware of backslash escaping so they can fix any problems themselves.

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You might have noticed, but if you haven’t, this is now live on observation pages. If you find bugs, let us know.

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Well done, thanks @kueda

Possibly not a bug, but something to note. If using the “quote” button you need to insert a line space to escape it. Otherwise the whole comment is a quote.

Would prefer that quoted material be the same size text as the rest of the comment. Now it’s a larger font - if quoting more than a few words, the larger font takes up a lot of space.

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Yeah, I think that’s just one of the quirks of Markdown formatting.

I’m not a huge fan of this either, though we’re just using the default Bootstrap typography here, so presumably some designer thought that was good form at some point. @abhasm, how would you feel about bringing it down to regular text size and just distinguishing blockquotes with that line to the left?

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nice, but minor notes:

  1. the screen to edit a comment lacks the formatting bar and displays formatting that is slightly inconsistent with what shows up on the observation page:


  2. the screen to edit an identification lacks the formatting bar and preview altogether.

  3. the Identify screen also seems to lack the text formatting bar and preview in comments and identifications.

  4. also not in the Android app. the Android app formatting is slightly different, but i like it because it has more noticeable bold and normal sized quoted text.

  5. in the Android app, the Activity (notification) previews of comments don’t seem to render the Markdown correctly.

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Thanks Tony for making this update happen

Thanks, but I don’t do any coding for iNat, I just serve as a go-between as far as features go.

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This… might not be quite possible. Those little snippets are aggressively truncated. I doubt we’re parsing HTML there and if we parsed the Markdown we’d need to deal with truncating in the middle of HTML tags. We do this on the web in a few places but… it’s not pleasant.

Formatting buttons should now be available on Identify (thanks to a volunteer!). The same person has a pull request open for inline editing of comments and IDs with the text editor, just needs a little more work before merging.

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5 posts were split to a new topic: What kind of dev environment should I have if I want to contribute to iNat?

I have just noticed that when one edits a comment on iNat now, it is edited “in place” rather than opening a new page. This is AWESOME! Thank you :smiley:

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That was more work generously volunteered by https://www.inaturalist.org/people/todtb, who also added the keyboard shortcuts. I don’t think they use the Forum, but you could always thank them on iNat.

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Thank you, Ken-ichi! I have thanked them :-)

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