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Story and Forums Formatting

Release Date: 05 Dec 09
Category: Site Updates

HASA's code refresh will mark a final break with the very oldest formatting code used on the orignal version of the site.


When HASA first launched, there were no free in-page editors to convert text to HTML. Authors and admins had to hand code HTML into the stories. This made long stories extremely time consuming and painful to post.

A small improvement was made when some processing code was added to convert line breaks into HTML break tags. This still left authors with the unenviable task of having to hand code italics, bold and other font formatting. A few editors were used experimentally, but none really did the trick. The best one that worked only did so in IE6, and it had serious bugs. For stories, a back end process inserted code into the text permanently, which made stories very hard for authors to read in the form but which made the stories display correctly. For forum posts, the text was only processed on the fly when it was displayed as the amount being shown was usually pretty small and could be done quickly.

Finally, one of the editors, Tiny Moxie Code (MCE), became stable and advanced enough, and worked well enough across most browsers, that it could be used for HASA. It has continued to improve over the years and the most recent build is exceptionally good. HASA still has to run a back-end processing script to clean up the coding errors that remain, but this version is finally good enough that the site will no longer offer a stand-alone text-only update form. There is a text-only toggle on the screen, and MCE as always has an HTML widow into which you can paste hand-done HTML.

What the new codebase will also abandon is the old front-end processing script that looked for line breaks and inserted HTML breaks in their place. For most stories, this will not be a problem as they were posted with MCE and do not reply on this parsing. Some very old stories in the HASA database may be affected. Authors are advised to do a preemptive update on any story they posted before June 2005 to ensure that the back end processing script is run for each chapter.

This may be a more serious problem in forum messages as forums have never been through the same back-end processing as stories. As a result, there will be forum posts that will lose all of their paragraph breaks.  None of the text is lost, just the paragraph breaks. Those created with MCE since June 2005 should be fine and spot checks of older posts show some preserve the breaks. In most cases, the post is short enough that even without line breaks, it is perfectly readable.

If you see a very, very long post that has been rendered unreadable by loss of paragraph breaks, send the URL and the Message # to the Site Manager.

Anglachel

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