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Improving the Wolfram Community Editor

Posted 11 years ago
Hi Vitaliy, 

is your group going to improve the community editor? I mean, it is usable after all, but it's not fun to use it. What browsers do you recommend? I try Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 64 bit, and Opera 64 bit on regular base and it's always kicking the hassle. You have to do multiple edit's to get it right and have it look not too bad. Especially the spikey button has some awful intelligence guiding it to reformat things I copy from a Mathematica notebook into it and I want to see it there within spikey's area _without_ _any_ _intelligence_ _of_ _the_ _spikey_ _involved_, because I did use Mathematica  already and Mathematica  is intelligent enough to format things.  Furthermore, "following this discussion" has no impact in the real world, I only once got a mail about a reaction on one of my mailings.

Having said that, let me say that I appreciate Wolfram Community as a source of recreation.

Useful would also be a button directing a hobbyist like me to the questions still having 0 replies.

Sincerely yours
POSTED BY: Udo Krause
51 Replies
Thank you very much for your feedback. Yes the Community team is very aware of every single issue you both mentioned. Let me assure you our focus stays put on the issues. And let me address the issues one by one in the order you mentioned them.

Improving the editor – this is one of our primarily goals and we do consider all possibilities including the MarkDown type. Development takes time. I can only ask you to please do not get discouraged and bear with us until will bring things to a better shape. For now I can give you a few tips for more efficient usage of the editor.

  1) Avoid too much rich formatting

  2) 1st click Spikey button, then paste the code in the gray box. Never paste code in the editor, then select it and click Spikey button.

  3) As an alternative to MarkDown style use “Source” mode – accessible via “Source” button. In this mode everything is crystal clear. M-code is placed between

tags. Or, for example, bold text between 

tags. Built-in browser spell checker works. I am going out of “Source” only to make a quick hyperlink or image upload.

  4) Make at least 2 break lines between separate code blocks – otherwise they will join.

Following this discussion – this is quite news to me. I get every single email if anyone comments on post I participated. Could this be your spam folder eating a few of those? Please let me know about specific cases so I could check them out.

Zero replies – it also is very known fact to us. We are working on this currently and you will be able to pull those out easily.

Correcting bad formatting – very well known. For now I would recommend to jump to “Source” mode for simpler approach.

I do not mean to sound like a cliché, but Rome was not built in one day. This is a very interesting project that in future will bit anything known to regular forums with thing like Wolfram Cloud integration and in-post computations. We only ask you to bear with us and support us with your patience, believe and enthusiasm. After all I think the message is much more valuable then pen and the paper. While I agree it is a delight to have a nice pen ;-)
POSTED BY: Vitaliy Kaurov
I agree that a currently weak point of this site is the editor.  I think it's very difficult to make a WYSIWYG editor quick and convenient to use because of all the "hidden" information behind what we actually see.

I very much prefer the MarkDown based editor on StackExchange, especially with the Mathematica-specific improvements.  It is true that MarkDown takes a bit of effort to learn, but it's not difficult either (it's definitely easier than the markup shown here when clicking the Source button), and once one learns it, I believe it's much quicker and easier to work with than the current Community WYSIWYG editor.

Just to mention some examples of how the current editor is frustrating: it's sometimes difficult to end a certain formatting or text customization.  It happened that I entered a hyperlink, pressed enter, kept typing on the new line, and the text I typed was still part of the link.  When formatting code, sometimes it's broken into several code boxes line by line.  Generally if something is misformatted, it's not trivial to fix (there should at least be a remove all formatting button like in the Gmail editor).
POSTED BY: Szabolcs Horvát
3) and 4) in vitaly's reply is very helpful. That resolves many formatting issue I had for long code. 
POSTED BY: Shenghui Yang
Posted 11 years ago
Until I saw this post I had no idea what the "Source" mode could be used for. The best short-term improvement for the community web site would be to spend an hour or two documenting the functionality that does exist, so we would not have to learn it by trial and error.
POSTED BY: David Keith
  1. I tested this in Safari/Chrome/Firefox on a Mac, and it works fine in all of them. You need to select the block of text to be marked as code, and then press Ctrl-K or Command-K (or use the toolbar button). It will simply indent the text by four spaces, which denotes a code block in MarkDown.

  2. I'm not sure what you mean here. MatrixForm is not really meant for copying as plan text, but it's possible if you right click it and choose Copy As -> Plain text. Only plain text is suitable for posting here. This is not an issue with the editor. It's a consequence of Mathematica supporting 2D notation and having to translate it into a copyable form.

  3. (don't know)

  4. MarkDown is not HTML. In fact it is the easiest to learn and easiest to read markup language. The "code" itself is designed both to look very similar to its rendered form and to be quick to type (unlike BBCode which the previous editor used).

I strongly prefer MarkDown to the previous editor because it's much more consistent and predictable. The previous editor allowed either directly editing BBCode, which is clearly inferior to MarkDown in usability, or using a WYSIWYG editor which tended to be unpredictable and mangle the underlying BBCode. With MarkDown we always edit the "source code", so the result is completely predictable, and unlike before there's never a need for multiple publish/edit cycles. If you don't edit something explicitly, it doesn't change.

In addition, there's also a live preview of the rendered form below, giving a semi-WYSIWYG workflow.

Plus, now we have $\LaTeX$ integrated! :-)

$$\int_0^\infty e^{-x} \; dx$$

POSTED BY: Szabolcs Horvát

Seems to work - even with PlainText only- only if Code Sample is not the first entry in a post - mention that in the Help, please -

In[1]:= {{1,0,0},{0,0,-1},{0,-1,0}}.{{1,8,5},{4,4,6},{2,7,9}}//MatrixForm
            Out[1]//MatrixForm= (1  8    5
            -2  -7   -9
            -4  -4   -6

In the notebook it is

enter image description here

Only plain text is suitable for posting here.

Then mention that in the Help, please, and - this is point 3. - bring the Help How to post and use Wolfram Community to some constant retrievable location on the site.

And - once again - this had to be edited twice, because - even with PlainText only - the CTRL-K has been ignored for the first time, despite of the WYSIWIG, which showed it correct: then I had to drop a line before the Code Sample to get it to work.

In toto this simple thing summed up to four edits.

This is Google Chrome under Windows 7 64 Bit.

I tested this in Safari/Chrome/Firefox on a Mac, and it works fine in all of them.

All the day one has to do with people reacting on a report with the phrase: For me it works just fine. Okay.

MarkDown is not HTML.

About that one reads on the MarkDown page

For any markup that is not covered by Markdown’s syntax, you simply use HTML itself.

POSTED BY: Udo Krause
Posted 10 years ago

At the moment IE, Chrome, Comodo Dragon and Epic all show numbers, but there is a visible delay after the page appears done and before the numbers appear on a couple of those. Those fairly commonly do not appear under Comodo and Chrome.

Win7 64 Ultimate.

P/N X800898-113 PID 69657-492-7435846-16748


U.S. size 9.5 which is Euro size 42.

POSTED BY: Bill Simpson

Re "Wolfies"-- Bad term to use.

POSTED BY: Daniel Lichtblau
Hi Vitaliy! Also to notice is that replying to posts using an iPad is difficult and editing posts is even harder. I use the iPad a lot, and this site works in a peculiar way for me... Good luck!
POSTED BY: C ormullion
Following this discussion – this is quite news to me. I get every single email if anyone comments on post I participated. Could this be your spam folder eating a few of those? Please let me know about specific cases so I could check them out.
You won't believe it, Vitaliy, but this very answer of you didn't make it into the e-Mail. The spam folder contains google+ and facebook (fake) messages every day, but no message from Wolfram community.

By the way, the citation button is an example for the issues one has to deal with. 
(1) Click the citation button - ok
(2) Paste in the citation - ok (as shown above)
(3) Try to leave the citation area with key strokes or mouse click - not possible (I did not try combined stroke-clicks with functional key interactions ...)
(4) Find a workaround:
(4.1) Open a second citation area hack around and delete again text
(4.2) The cursor is now hold in the second citation area
(4.3) Open a third citation area and hack and delete again; then - occasional - the third and the second citation area disappear and the cursor is below the first citation area
(4.4) Continue with simple text and produce the answer as it is seen here - ok
POSTED BY: Udo Krause
The only email I got from this thread was Udo's very last reply.  I haven't received any of the others (they're not in the spam folder).
POSTED BY: Szabolcs Horvát
I wonder if anyone tried to import a graphic file to a message. I tried it in a number of ways today (copy and paste, drag and drop, or using the editor's "image" button) but none of these worked. Especially the effect of trying to use the "image" widget was truly weird. I tried it on a MacBook Air with Safari, can this be the problem?
POSTED BY: Imre Pazsit
Dear all,

thank you very much for the feedback, this is invaluable for us. We just created a short tutorial on the editor. Please check it out and comment there on what else would you like to see:

How to type up a post: editor tutorial & general tips

@ C ormullion, the site is not optimized for mobile platforms yet. This is coming in the future.

@ David, please see the linked above tutorial 

@ Szabolcs, Udo - we are looking into the notification email issue you mentioned. We will get back to you.
POSTED BY: Moderation Team
Posted 11 years ago
Thank you. That's a big help!
Best regards,
POSTED BY: David Keith
Yes it is a good help, it was good that David induced it. It does not though contain the solution to my question (which I must admit was not fully specified, see below) on the importing of images. It was solved kindly by Vitaliy in mail correspondence (since I also sent an inquiry on "Feedback"). The solution is that only PNG, JPG and GIF formats can be uploaded, whereas I tried to upload a tiff file (the default type that the screen capture app "Grab" produces on my Mac). I thought the problem was with the browser and/or the operating system, but I was not. Please add this specification into the "Tutorial and general tips", not the least since the advice "illustrate your posts with images" appears in it. Thanks!Imre
POSTED BY: Imre Pazsit
I agree, a good hint of David and a useful hands-on tutorial. So let's go ahead with the "Source" mode as programmers are used to do ...
POSTED BY: Udo Krause
@Imre, don't use the Grab utility in OS X to save screenshots.  Use the keyboard shortcuts instead.  These will give you PNG files, and they're more convenient to use.  TIFF files are not compatible with most web browsers so they'd need to be converted before they can be displayed.  JPEG, GIF and PNG can be displayed directly, so most websites will only allow these.

@Moderation Team:  It seems the email issue is still present today.
POSTED BY: Szabolcs Horvát
@Szabolcs we are looking into this currently. Did you experience this on other thread discussions too or only this one?
POSTED BY: Moderation Team
I got the notification email just now.  I experienced it in this thread earlier, but I did get your update just a minute ago.
POSTED BY: Szabolcs Horvát
(Shall we correspond in Hungarian? emoticon ). Thank you for the tips. I did not know that the shortcuts generate png, of course it is more direct. However it is no problem to convert a tiff to jpg, this is what I did when I started a discussion in another subject recently:
POSTED BY: Imre Pazsit

You can find my email address here. :-) (I won't write in plain text to reduce the amount of spam I get.)
POSTED BY: Szabolcs Horvát
I found another problem with the editor.  I can't type the following unless I put it in a code box:
I think the problematic part is
as it gets stripped when I try to publish the post.  This shouldn't happen when I use the visual (not source) editor.
POSTED BY: Szabolcs Horvát
That is a known issue and exactly why we need the codebox. We do not have in-line functionality yet for this (though we are working on it) and BBCode interpreter sometimes makes content inside square brackets become invisible. These constructs are native for BBCode. We are working on this and thank you very much for caring and bringing these things to our attention.
POSTED BY: Moderation Team
Does somebody test the community editor from outside ... since one or two weeks copy and paste from a Mma notebook into the spikey area of a post does not work anymore with Opera 64 Bit (Version 12.16,  Build 1860, Platform x64, System Windows 7), Mma version is 9.0.1. Google Chrome does it.
POSTED BY: Udo Krause
Posted 11 years ago
Is there any way to attach a notebook to a post, or to send a notebook to another community member?
POSTED BY: David Keith
Yes you can attach a file to your posts and comments. This is public sharing and these files then can be accessed by anyone.
POSTED BY: Moderation Team
Posted 11 years ago
The appended is a copy and paste of a reply/post  I made on: "How to type up a post"
I noticed that that "discussion" had not been active for some months.  My post, though perhaps more of a comment, has actual questions in the last itemized ist (and the post script).
I could have posted this as a separate question, however these threads appeared to be question and answer sessions.

Dear Moderation Team,
Thank you very much for this post.  I was going to provide feedback but found other users making the same observations.  I am glad 
  1. The common issues came to surface
  2. The prompt response

The interface is clearly laid out and the Source button is extremely helpful in editing when things are complex or go wrong, e.g. I found it invaluable for this post (admittedly it did not require all this formatting, esp nested enumerated lists but I was experimenting).

There still seem to be issues with uploading animated gifs. However, this may be my machine. I do not receive any email notifications and I have not been aware of any flag or marker to indicate a reply to a comment thread. The latter may reflect that no-one has replied. However, I know I only became aware of a reply (my one and only) by chance rather than design (my one and only reply here some 5 months ago).

Finally some minor questions:
  • is the in-line Mathematica markup or a convention, e.g. bold font for in-built Mathematica functions?
  • is there LaTeX support (in-line or display mode)?
  • is some formal mutual interaction/recognition/cross-fertilization between Wolfram Community and Mathematica Stack exchange underway?
With respect to the last question: obviously, there are cross posted questions (I hyperlinked one above) and users of both (I have to date learned an enormous amount from Stackexchange and hope to continue to and I see a number of common users).

Thank you again for this very helpful post.

Post script

  • It appears that this BBCode does not support \[latex\] tag for markup.
  • The frequently used commands help regarding BBCode incorrectly repeats \[mcode\] for code blocks whereas \[code\] is what is produced when just putting non-Mathematica code
POSTED BY: Mark Dooris

Hi dear all,

there is a new user interface: The source button has gone, the Spikey has gone, the links in the discussion to this very post have gone too. Would you like to see what happens if a poster encourages to post a MatrixForm?

In[1]:= {{1, 0, 0}, {0, 0, -1}, {0, -1, 0}}.{{1, 8, 5}, {4, 4, 6}, {2,
     7, 9}} // MatrixForm

Out[1]//MatrixForm= \!\(
RowBox[{"(", "", GridBox[{
{"1", "8", "5"},
RowBox[{"-", "2"}], 
RowBox[{"-", "7"}], 
RowBox[{"-", "9"}]},
RowBox[{"-", "4"}], 
RowBox[{"-", "4"}], 
RowBox[{"-", "6"}]}
      "Columns" -> {{Center}}, "ColumnsIndexed" -> {}, 
       "Rows" -> {{Baseline}}, "RowsIndexed" -> {}},
GridBoxSpacings->{"Columns" -> {
Offset[0.27999999999999997`], {
Offset[0.27999999999999997`]}, "ColumnsIndexed" -> {}, "Rows" -> {
Offset[0.2], {
Offset[0.2]}, "RowsIndexed" -> {}}], "", ")"}],

It's great, isn't it? This was done with the Google Chrome Browser the only one that worked for me in this forum before. I've read the new help in the Announcements and tried both: Code Sample Button (scrambles up at all) and the CTRL-K (does nothing) thing ...

So, let's pose the old questions again:

  • which browser works for this web publishing interface?
  • how to get the Mma code in without the need of multiple publish/edit cycles?
  • where is the help entry on the right-hand side of Dashboard - Groups - People?
  • I've seen the hint to the MarkDown syntax; do you intend one has to do full fledged HTML coding here to get the formatting right?
POSTED BY: Udo Krause

You really don't have to worry about HTML. As I said, MarkDown is not HTML. What that remark means is that one can use HTML, interspersed with MarkDown. But we don't need to use HTML (unless one needs special formatting, which includes coloured text or images resized in-browser, things that were not possible in the previous editor). On StackExchange (which uses MarkDown) I never need to use HTML.

POSTED BY: Szabolcs Horvát

Sorting as well as testing did not yet come to an end here:

enter image description here

these is shown as sorted by newest replies; if taken literally, it's just wrong ... it's neither ascending nor descending nor even units have been respected ... good luck!

It seems that sorted by newest replies means: sorted by second newest reply, because for this very post as newest reply the post from Mr. Szabolcs Horvat 11 days ago is shown as the newest post.

POSTED BY: Udo Krause
Posted 10 years ago

Since the changes began I routinely do not see numbers above views, replies or votes until I slide the mouse across the subject.

If there is a wish list somewhere, it would be nice to see that blue box containing the quoting come back. This enabled making it really clear when my response was addressing only a specific part of someone's previous post

POSTED BY: Bill Simpson

The order of discussions is probably correct for the actual last addition.

In the Dashboard list of discussions and how long ago they were created or added to,
it seems like most of the ages are for the next-to-last addition. This is being worked on.

POSTED BY: Bruce Miller

What web browser(s) do you (not) see this on? What OS and level?

(Why not?) Make and model of mouse?

POSTED BY: Bruce Miller

The Community Editor has improved much - thank you all for accomplishing that, but still it happens, that the preview of a post is okay (e.g. post 336269) but the post appears in WC nearly unformatted.

POSTED BY: Udo Krause

Indeed. I find that links given in the [linkname](url) format do not render correctly recently. They're fine in the preview, but not the final post. See for example the next to last post here.

POSTED BY: Szabolcs Horvát

Or just see this very post above ...

POSTED BY: Szabolcs Horvát

Right now, in Firefox running under Windows 7, the most recent post I see if 22 hours ago. In Chrome, on the same computer, the most recent post is 12 hours ago. I've seen this problem before.

POSTED BY: Frank Kampas
Posted 10 years ago

Same for me. When I followed the email link to this post I could see it, but only old posts appear on the Dashboard. Win 7 pro x64 and firefox.

POSTED BY: David Keith

Same for me: each browser (Chrome 37.0.2062.103, Opera 12.17, Safari 5.1.7 (7534.57.2), Internet Explorer 11.0.9600.17239 all under Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium) shows another most recent post - none of them is the most recent post. You must know the poster of the most recent post to find the most recent post. Possibly the Wolfies implemented many worlds of Hugh Everett III already in the area of Web Communities and let us know this way ... the older Newtonian model of one time for all (browers) facilitates communication with others much.

POSTED BY: Udo Krause

Yes, "Wolfies" is a bad term, but he did credit you (collectively) with mastering the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

POSTED BY: Frank Kampas
Posted 10 years ago

It's a term of endearment, Daniel. Many of us have "known" you and Bruce longer than all but our oldest friends. Twenty-one years for me. So you're family -- tu, not vous.

POSTED BY: David Keith

Once again, the Dashboard is not uptodate. It says the latest post is 4 hours old but there is a one hour old post in the Mathematica group.

POSTED BY: Frank Kampas

This morning the Dashboard is about 12 hours behind.

POSTED BY: Frank Kampas

Re "Wolfies"-- Bad term to use.

... hmm; I used to use the abbreviation Mma for Mathematica until I learnt that MMA is the abbreviation for Mixed Martial Arts. Now I learnt that Wolfies is a name often used by grill restaurants ...

On the other hand, there is the special character [Wolf] and if one enjoys the graphical design of this website Wolfram Language it was not too outrageous to use the term Wolfies. Even if I stop using it, it will be used over and over again Wolfie Keyboard, a Wolfram Alpha Client for Windows Phone 8 ...

POSTED BY: Udo Krause

This morning the Dashboard is about 1 day behind on Chrome Windows PC, but it's up to date on a Windows 8 Smart Phone.

POSTED BY: Udo Krause

I think words ending in ies are often regarded as being derogatory. For example, fans of Star Trek call themselves Trekkers and are insulted when they are called Trekkies.

POSTED BY: Frank Kampas

I think words ending in ies are often regarded as being derogatory.

Okay, sorry; then I will never use this again.

POSTED BY: Udo Krause

This evening it is not possible to reply to CellularAutomaton Code Jam Wolfram Summer School 2015: from the link triple Edit|Reply|Flag only the link Flag appears in Opera 31.0 as well as in IE 11 (Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium). Other posts allow for a reply.

POSTED BY: Udo Krause

Now it works again - thanks.

POSTED BY: Udo Krause
Posted 9 years ago

This may be a bridge too far, but is there any hope that the community windows could some day display Mathematica code in a code block in the same way it would be displayed by the front end? As one of countless possible examples, below is a few lines from a notebook. An image shows the front end display; a code block displays what we see when we share the code in the community:

The image:

enter image description here

The code block:

In[1]:= \!\(
\*SubsuperscriptBox[\(\[Sum]\), \(i = 1\), \(2\)]\(
\*SubsuperscriptBox[\(\[Sum]\), \(j = 1\), \(3\)]
\*SubscriptBox[\(x\), \(i\)] 
\*SubscriptBox[\(y\), \(j\)]\)\) + xy 

Out[1]= xy + Subscript[x, 1] Subscript[y, 1] + 
 Subscript[x, 2] Subscript[y, 1] + Subscript[x, 1] Subscript[y, 2] + 
 Subscript[x, 2] Subscript[y, 2] + Subscript[x, 1] Subscript[y, 3] + 
 Subscript[x, 2] Subscript[y, 3]

In[2]:= data = RandomVariate[NormalDistribution[10, 2], {100}];

In[3]:= h = DistributionFitTest[data, Automatic, "HypothesisTestData"]

Out[3]= HypothesisTestData[DistributionFitTest, {CompressedData["
"], "SampleToNull", 1, 
Rational[1, 20], {
NormalDistribution[\[FormalX], \[FormalY]], Automatic}, 
  Automatic, {}}, {
 "Normality" -> 0, "EqualVariance" -> 0, "Symmetry" -> 0}]

In[4]:= h["TestDataTable", All]

Out[4]= \!\(\*
{"\<\"\"\>", "\<\"Statistic\"\>", "\<\"P\[Hyphen]Value\"\>"},
{"\<\"Anderson\[Hyphen]Darling\"\>", "0.26567387640156426`", 
{"\<\"Baringhaus\[Hyphen]Henze\"\>", "0.18479055252232968`", 
{"\<\"Cramér\[Hyphen]von Mises\"\>", "0.033791663220545665`", 
{"\<\"Jarque\[Hyphen]Bera ALM\"\>", "0.6432812775686165`", 
{"\<\"Kolmogorov\[Hyphen]Smirnov\"\>", "0.040861424234799215`", 
{"\<\"Kuiper\"\>", "0.07048981471736177`", "0.9083140585044757`"},
{"\<\"Mardia Combined\"\>", "0.6432812775686165`", 
{"\<\"Mardia Kurtosis\"\>", "0.16435378746000665`", 
{"\<\"Mardia Skewness\"\>", "0.5168068023177183`", 
{"\<\"Pearson \\!\\(\\*SuperscriptBox[\\(\[Chi]\\),\\(2\\)]\\)\"\>", 
     "8.68`", "0.5627179611333251`"},
{"\<\"Shapiro\[Hyphen]Wilk\"\>", "0.9907564675227472`", 
{"\<\"Watson \\!\\(\\*SuperscriptBox[\\(U\\),\\(2\\)]\\)\"\>", 
     "0.030535847526280475`", "0.8120605947534496`"}
    "Columns" -> {{Left}}, "ColumnsIndexed" -> {}, 
     "Rows" -> {{Automatic}}, "RowsIndexed" -> {}, "Items" -> {}, 
     "ItemsIndexed" -> {}},
    "Columns" -> {}, "ColumnsIndexed" -> {2 -> GrayLevel[0.7]}, 
     "Rows" -> {}, "RowsIndexed" -> {2 -> GrayLevel[0.7]}, 
     "Items" -> {}, "ItemsIndexed" -> {}},
    "Columns" -> {{Automatic}}, "ColumnsIndexed" -> {}, 
     "Rows" -> {{Automatic}}, "RowsIndexed" -> {}, "Items" -> {}, 
     "ItemsIndexed" -> {}},
    "Columns" -> {{Automatic}}, "ColumnsIndexed" -> {}, 
     "Rows" -> {{Automatic}}, "RowsIndexed" -> {}, "Items" -> {}, 
     "ItemsIndexed" -> {}}],
"Grid"], "DialogStyle",
POSTED BY: David Keith

Thanks for the suggestion David. Wolfram Cloud and Mathematica Online do exactly that - provide web based interface analogy to front end. And that is a big undertaking. It is hard to to expect that from a simple web text editor. But perhaps in the future we would be able to embed Wolfram Cloud code cells in posts. For now one can simply grab a screen-shot for visual and attach a notebook for code.

POSTED BY: Vitaliy Kaurov
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