2109: "Invisible Formatting"

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Jorpho
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2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Jorpho » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:48 pm UTC

Image

Title text: "To avoid errors like this, we render all text and pipe it through OCR before processing, fixing a handful of irregular bugs by burying them beneath a smooth, uniform layer of bugs."

It's things like this that led me to cling to good ol' WordPerfect for the longest time instead of switching to Word. I see this little blurb circulating often:

using microsoft word

*moves an image 1 mm to the left*

all text and images shift. 4 new pages appear. in the distance, sirens.


I'm not the only one who makes frequent use of Ctrl-Shift-C and Ctrl-Shift-V to apply formatting, am I?

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Wowfunhappy » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:53 pm UTC

I have long wished that type styles operated similarly to capitalization. Not in terms of data storage under the hood—I'm not suggesting that bold letters should be an entirely different unicode sequence—but in terms of... if caps lock isn't enabled, and I'm not holding down shift, my word processor will never decide to make my text uppercase.

In other words, ⌘B should work like caps lock, except for bold characters instead of uppercase characters. When my bold cursor is enabled, anything I type becomes bold, and vise versa when bold is disabled. My computer should never make the switch for me—it only ever causes problems.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Eutychus » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:38 pm UTC

In my day job I use an old-school version of CAT software which deformats text and signals the presence of formatting codes by curly brackets with a code number in, thus: {53}

This is a great way of avoiding this problem.

Although I've just been proofing an Excel spreadsheet in which the characters change font for no adequately explained reason and without any corresponding change in the box indicating the font. Threatening to change the entire cell to Comic Sans ms seems to make it behave.
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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby shon » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:08 pm UTC

Wowfunhappy wrote:I have long wished that type styles operated similarly to capitalization. Not in terms of data storage under the hood—I'm not suggesting that bold letters should be an entirely different unicode sequence—but in terms of... if caps lock isn't enabled, and I'm not holding down shift, my word processor will never decide to make my text uppercase.

In other words, ⌘B should work like caps lock, except for bold characters instead of uppercase characters. When my bold cursor is enabled, anything I type becomes bold, and vise versa when bold is disabled. My computer should never make the switch for me—it only ever causes problems.


As far back as I remember, ⌘B to start and end bold typing is how this works. However, if you click inside an already-bold section and start typing, your new typing will also be bold. This comic's problem: If a bold space is left, and you click "inside" the bold tag, your new text is bold. This is precisely how early WYSIWYG HTML editors worked - they didn't delete the start and end tags (for bold, italic, underline) when the text inside was deleted. You had to include a tag in the selection to get both deleted, and how could you tell unless you were editing rich text while also viewing source? If not, you could potentially start typing inside an existing tag and get unexpected formatting.

Randall's fear is not unfounded.

My habits, I think, solve the problem. If I select a word, mark bold, decide I don't like it, I ⌘Z (undo). If later I need to remove bold, I select surrounding text, mark all bold and immediately mark unbold.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby cellocgw » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:27 pm UTC

Ahh, c'mon guys: double-click FTW.

Are there still people tech-savvy enough to find this forum yet don't know that a double-click automagically selects the entire word but not the white space around it?
And that triple-click selects the entire line or paragraph?

Now I'll contradict myself by pointing out that many apps fail to implement this.

Not to mention that each app has its own idea of what word boundaries are. Some use whitespace, others stop at a dot or an underbar. Software sucks.
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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:40 pm UTC

Formatingiis hard\

(But the forum is smart enough to get rid of open/close BBCode with literally nothing between. And, it seems, whitespace only too. But only one tag at a time, so +bold+italic+underline+strikethrough-strikethrough-underline-italic-bold might survive a preview and a reply or two, as might be obvious. Maybe misnested threads will, too, but that'll leave artefacts while active.)

Edit: No, BIUSspace/SUIB just loses the space! Interesting!

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Rossegacebes » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:52 pm UTC

Many years ago I had to debug a relatively fancy PowerPoint document (with graphs, formulas and pictures), with many collaborations, that could not be printed. After a lot of bisection I found the culprit: a single period in the middle of a paragraph. It was in Dutch.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Wowfunhappy » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:01 pm UTC

shon wrote:As far back as I remember, ⌘B to start and end bold typing is how this works. However, if you click inside an already-bold section and start typing, your new typing will also be bold.


Exactly. This should just not happen, or at least, I'd like a way to disable the behavior. It hurts far more often than it helps.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Auror » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:12 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:Ahh, c'mon guys: double-click FTW.

Are there still people tech-savvy enough to find this forum yet don't know that a double-click automagically selects the entire word but not the white space around it?
And that triple-click selects the entire line or paragraph?

Now I'll contradict myself by pointing out that many apps fail to implement this.

Not to mention that each app has its own idea of what word boundaries are. Some use whitespace, others stop at a dot or an underbar. Software sucks.


Yeah, like Chrome. Double clicking highlights the word AND the space to the right!

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby ChakatFirepaw » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:37 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:Ahh, c'mon guys: double-click FTW.

Are there still people tech-savvy enough to find this forum yet don't know that a double-click automagically selects the entire word but not the white space around it?
And that triple-click selects the entire line or paragraph?.


Because using that technique works all the time without a bunch of extra work, right?

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:39 pm UTC

I would find it a pain in the ass if I wanted to fix a typo or insert a word into an already-bold section and what I typed into there came through non-bold.
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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby speising » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:48 pm UTC

ChakatFirepaw wrote:
cellocgw wrote:Ahh, c'mon guys: double-click FTW.

Are there still people tech-savvy enough to find this forum yet don't know that a double-click automagically selects the entire word but not the white space around it?
And that triple-click selects the entire line or paragraph?.


Because using that technique works all the time without a bunch of extra work, right?

usually, yes. if you double click and then drag over multiple words, a half smart editor will stay in word marking mode.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby suso » Fri Feb 08, 2019 6:10 pm UTC

I wonder of Randall has ever used Google Docs. That thing stores so much invisible formatting that it makes it nearly impossible sometimes to copy out and into another program/website.
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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Uristqwerty » Fri Feb 08, 2019 6:27 pm UTC

A trivial QoL feature would be, when you hover over any formatting toggle toolbar button, to highlight all occurrences within the document body. Dim+desaturate everything else, give it a significant background colour or something.

Too bad touchscreens don't have a proper hover feature, and today's developers seem hesitant to implement anything that won't work on mobile.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Flumble » Fri Feb 08, 2019 6:32 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:a double-click automagically selects the entire word but not the white space around it?

I'm used to the selection including the whitespace on the right in, I think, predominantly Microsoft programs. This is sensible if you want to move or delete a (couple of) word(s) because it leaves the right amount of spacing between the words on the left and right.

The most complex form I have in front of me right now: ctrl+shift+arrows [increase the selection to the end of the added] word but [decrease the selection to the beginning of the ]deselected word. To be fair, it does make it possible to select/deselect the whitespace at will (now if only it included a way to swap the start-of-selection and cursor so you can change the selection on both ends).

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Jorpho » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:27 pm UTC

suso wrote:I wonder of Randall has ever used Google Docs. That thing stores so much invisible formatting that it makes it nearly impossible sometimes to copy out and into another program/website.
I used to keep a big thing of notes in Google Docs, but editing it became so achingly slow that I recently switched to Google Keep, since I really don't need any formatting at all for my purposes. I am waiting for what awful surprises Keep will reveal.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Archgeek » Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:34 pm UTC

Uristqwerty wrote:A trivial QoL feature would be, when you hover over any formatting toggle toolbar button, to highlight all occurrences within the document body. Dim+desaturate everything else, give it a significant background colour or something.

Too bad touchscreens don't have a proper hover feature, and today's developers seem hesitant to implement anything that won't work on mobile.

HEH, It's a good thing textboxes predate mobile, then. I've absolutely zero idea why in the blazes mobile keypads don't have arrow keys (at the very least left/right) -- it is a complete monstrosity to try to get the cursor between a specific pair of characters on a phone. Tapping nearby and arrowing over for terminal approach would work great, but...

Jorpho wrote:I used to keep a big thing of notes in Google Docs, but editing it became so achingly slow that I recently switched to Google Keep, since I really don't need any formatting at all for my purposes. I am waiting for what awful surprises Keep will reveal.

Ooh, I've one! I abuse Keep quite a bit -- it's my major hack for mobile text conversations, allowing me to type at full speed with a proper keyboard and just copying the text from Keep into the messaging application. However, sometimes the updates from the drafty box and the phone zone collide, or something, and the message gets very heavily garbled. This can be dealt with by snapping it up into the clipboard before the browser instance updates to the corrupted clown version, but can get annoying.
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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Jorpho » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:08 pm UTC

Archgeek wrote:I've absolutely zero idea why in the blazes mobile keypads don't have arrow keys (at the very least left/right) -- it is a complete monstrosity to try to get the cursor between a specific pair of characters on a phone. Tapping nearby and arrowing over for terminal approach would work great, but...
The world was verily shook by the news a few weeks ago that you can drag over the space bar to move the cursor.
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-styl ... 41806.html

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Heimhenge » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:36 pm UTC

My most common glitch is not realizing, when I'm trying to select and delete a single word, that a slight movement of the cursor or inadvertent click of the mouse button has selected way more than I intended to delete. Easy enough to Ctrl-Z back, but it's still a pain in the ass.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Archgeek » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:57 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
Archgeek wrote:I've absolutely zero idea why in the blazes mobile keypads don't have arrow keys (at the very least left/right) -- it is a complete monstrosity to try to get the cursor between a specific pair of characters on a phone. Tapping nearby and arrowing over for terminal approach would work great, but...
The world was verily shook by the news a few weeks ago that you can drag over the space bar to move the cursor.
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-styl ... 41806.html

Neat, 'glad they finally fixed that three years ago. Unfortunately, I've a GS4 with Lollipop and no support for anything later (not even Marshmallow, so no charge-only connection type for me). So, phone too old and also not Apple. 'Droid should get on that, though, if they've not already. (In which case their manual is hot garbage.)
Last edited by Archgeek on Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:09 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby neoREgen » Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:50 am UTC

This is why I use markdown for _everything_. Seriously. I converted every word/txt document on my computer into it.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby MechR » Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:13 am UTC

Archgeek wrote:
Jorpho wrote:
Archgeek wrote:I've absolutely zero idea why in the blazes mobile keypads don't have arrow keys (at the very least left/right) -- it is a complete monstrosity to try to get the cursor between a specific pair of characters on a phone. Tapping nearby and arrowing over for terminal approach would work great, but...
The world was verily shook by the news a few weeks ago that you can drag over the space bar to move the cursor.
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-styl ... 41806.html

Neat, 'glad they finally fixed that three years ago. Unfortunately, I've a G4S with Lollipop and no support for anything later (not even Marshmallow, so no charge-only connection type for me). So, phone too old and also not Apple. 'Droid should get on that, though, if they've not already. (In which case their manual is hot garbage.)

Yup, Android's had that for a few years too. Not sure which Gboard version first added it.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Cougar Allen » Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:21 am UTC

Archgeek wrote:Neat, 'glad they finally fixed that three years ago. Unfortunately, I've a G4S with Lollipop and no support for anything later (not even Marshmallow, so no charge-only connection type for me). So, phone too old and also not Apple. 'Droid should get on that, though, if they've not already. (In which case their manual is hot garbage.)

What keyboard do you use? G-board has had that feature for a long time, including with Lollipop.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Archgeek » Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:12 am UTC

Cougar Allen wrote:
Archgeek wrote:Neat, 'glad they finally fixed that three years ago. Unfortunately, I've a G4S with Lollipop and no support for anything later (not even Marshmallow, so no charge-only connection type for me). So, phone too old and also not Apple. 'Droid should get on that, though, if they've not already. (In which case their manual is hot garbage.)

What keyboard do you use? G-board has had that feature for a long time, including with Lollipop.

Seemingly Swype and something simply called "Samsung Keyboard". My alien space rectangle didn't come with G-board, and might not support it (or vice-versa).
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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby rmsgrey » Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:49 am UTC

Flumble wrote:
cellocgw wrote:a double-click automagically selects the entire word but not the white space around it?

I'm used to the selection including the whitespace on the right in, I think, predominantly Microsoft programs. This is sensible if you want to move or delete a (couple of) word(s) because it leaves the right amount of spacing between the words on the left and right.

The most complex form I have in front of me right now: ctrl+shift+arrows [increase the selection to the end of the added] word but [decrease the selection to the beginning of the ]deselected word. To be fair, it does make it possible to select/deselect the whitespace at will (now if only it included a way to swap the start-of-selection and cursor so you can change the selection on both ends).


My Firefox installation also includes trailing whitespace on a double-click.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby typo » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:16 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
Archgeek wrote:I've absolutely zero idea why in the blazes mobile keypads don't have arrow keys (at the very least left/right) -- it is a complete monstrosity to try to get the cursor between a specific pair of characters on a phone. Tapping nearby and arrowing over for terminal approach would work great, but...
The world was verily shook by the news a few weeks ago that you can drag over the space bar to move the cursor.
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-styl ... 41806.html

My (oldish) Android tablet has Hacker's Keyboard. It doesn't do the space-drag thing, but it has actual arrow keys; also esc and ctrl and alt and tab. I like it. My phone, otoh, is a Blackberry with a physical keyboard and a thumbpad thingy that moves the cursor. I like that, too.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby hetas » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:33 am UTC

Hyperlinks are the worst, at least in browser based wysiwyg editors. Add a link an try to adding text after that and it's included in the link text. Or delete a newline to join two lines and all the text is linkified.

Other than that I'm quite impressed with the online editors I use with Jira/Confluence, FogBugz and of course Google and MS.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Doghouse » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:33 am UTC

You'd need to be almost OCD-level obsessive to worry about this sort of thing.

Which is why I always remove that sort of formatting by over-selecting the character string (too long at both ends), and toggle Bold until the while selected area is in normal case. Then all I need worry about is the extra "normal" formatting characters that the software may have added.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Anonymously Famous » Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:21 pm UTC

I work in translation, one of the industries where the "problem in the distant future" happens.

When you send a file to a translation company, chances are they'll use a CAT (computer assisted translation) tool. The main feature of a CAT tool is that it will store previously translated sentences in a database for future reuse. They also display the file to the translator as a series of individual sentences, with tags to indicate changes in formatting. The sentence in the comic would look something like "...but would not<1> <2>have to...".

If there are a lot of tags, which happens sometimes when Word tries to be helpful with formatting, things can get a bit messy. And if you don't get the tag order just right, the internal XML structure of the Word file gets corrupted, and the resulting translated Word document can't be opened.

Part of my job is fixing these problems.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Soupspoon » Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:03 pm UTC

Anonymously Famous wrote:when Word tries to be helpful

'nuff said, right…?

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Solra Bizna » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:09 pm UTC

When I was porting Lua to Classic MacOS for some reason, I needed to have a Read Me in both SimpleText format (for viewing on the target Macs) and Markdown format (for viewing on GitHub). Near the end of the process of converting from Markdown to styled SimpleText by hand, I somehow corrupted the file causing all styling information to be off by a single character. It was... a familiar feeling.

Doghouse wrote:You'd need to be almost OCD-level obsessive to worry about this sort of thing.

I think people who worked with styling in SimpleText a lot will also worry about this sort of thing, for the rest of their lives.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Jorpho » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:24 pm UTC

hetas wrote:Hyperlinks are the worst, at least in browser based wysiwyg editors. Add a link an try to adding text after that and it's included in the link text. Or delete a newline to join two lines and all the text is linkified.
Yep, that's why I always include a space between the end of a URL and a period, though many editors seem to be smart enough not to include those these days.

One problem that does not seem to have been overcome yet is all those Wikipedia URLs that end in a close-paren, because that close-paren also tends to be cut off by many editors. You'd think the solution would be for Wikipedia to automatically redirect URLs with an open-paren but no close-paren to the equivalent page with the close-paren, because how frequently could article titles with unmatched parentheses possibly occur?

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby jonhaug » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:17 am UTC

TRWTF is WYSIWYG. Real Text Authors use TeX or LaTeX. You don't see:

  1. but would not have
  2. but would \textbf{not }have
  3. but would \textbf{ }have

/Jon

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby grkvlt » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:50 am UTC

Auror wrote:
cellocgw wrote:Ahh, c'mon guys: double-click FTW.

Are there still people tech-savvy enough to find this forum yet don't know that a double-click automagically selects the entire word but not the white space around it?


Yeah, like Chrome. Double clicking highlights the word AND the space to the right!


But (of course) if you double-click a word, selecting the word plus the following space, and then drag the cursor over other words, it will continue in word-select mode, and will select the extra words without the following space!

So, if you double click a word, then drag to the next word, then back to the original word, only that word, with no extra space will be selected!

Fun!
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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Marsh'n » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:46 pm UTC

Cougar Allen wrote:What keyboard do you use? G-board has had that feature for a long time, including with Lollipop.


And this is all well and good, and a useful feature, except that about 50% of the time that I try to use it, my Android phone pops up a "which keyboard do you want to switch to" dialog in response to trying to use the spacebar-slide for a cursor move. Is this a common problem, or is it just another way in which my particular phone is possessed by demon spawn?

P.S. Am I the only one who looked at the page source for "Invisible Formatting", in order to check the alt text, to see if it contained examples of invisible formatting, and was disappointed that it didn't even contain an &nbsp;?

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby aljohnso » Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:18 pm UTC

Does have interesting cryptography implications...

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:44 pm UTC

grkvlt wrote:
Auror wrote:
cellocgw wrote:Ahh, c'mon guys: double-click FTW.

Are there still people tech-savvy enough to find this forum yet don't know that a double-click automagically selects the entire word but not the white space around it?


Yeah, like Chrome. Double clicking highlights the word AND the space to the right!


But (of course) if you double-click a word, selecting the word plus the following space, and then drag the cursor over other words, it will continue in word-select mode, and will select the extra words without the following space!

So, if you double click a word, then drag to the next word, then back to the original word, only that word, with no extra space will be selected!

Fun!


My Firefox disagrees with you - the trailing space is always highlighted. Except if you highlight one word to the left, and then come back - in which case no words are highlighted and the text cursor rests to the right of the trailing space of the original word.

When it comes to a question of how text highlighting works in Firefox, I'm inclined to trust that my Firefox gets it "right" over the word of some random person online :P

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby jgh » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:06 am UTC

You've made me feel really old here, I use *bold* /italics/ _underline_.

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Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:23 am UTC

On my Mac Firefox seems to just use the OS native text behaviors, so double-click selects a word with no spaces, dragging on the second click select multiple words with the spaces in between them. And if I want to delete the word and the extra space, I can just double-tap delete (which doesn't do anything special, the first just deletes the word that's selected, and the next deletes whatever's next in line, namely the space). Triple click selects the whole paragraph.
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Cougar Allen
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Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2015 4:49 am UTC

Re: 2109: "Invisible Formatting"

Postby Cougar Allen » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:18 am UTC

Marsh'n wrote:
Cougar Allen wrote:What keyboard do you use? G-board has had that feature for a long time, including with Lollipop.


And this is all well and good, and a useful feature, except that about 50% of the time that I try to use it, my Android phone pops up a "which keyboard do you want to switch to" dialog in response to trying to use the spacebar-slide for a cursor move. Is this a common problem, or is it just another way in which my particular phone is possessed by demon spawn?

That's not a problem - it's a feature! Long-press the spacebar to change keyboards. If you don't want to change keyboards, don't long-press the spacebar! (Easier said than done, I know - but doesn't it sound easy when I put it that way? Doesn't it make you feel the problem is with you and not with the stoopid interface? Doesn't it make you want to blame yourself? Mwahahahaha!)

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