Thursday , January 28 2021

Slack’s new WYSIWYG input box is really terrible, Hacker News


Slack has just recently rolled out a “WYSIWYG text input” widget to its Web browser interface. (Apparently, the phased rollout started at the beginning of November 2019, but it’s just now starting to hit the workspaces that I participate in.) The user experience of using this new input method is really, really, really bad.

First of all, there is no way to go back to plain old Markdown input. (See @ SlackHQ’s responses inthis massive Twitter thread.) If you prefer the old interface… well, screw you, says Slack.

It wouldn’t be a problem if the WYSIWYG interface supported “editing” in the way that Slack users are used to. But right now a whole lot of stuff is broken – not just “I typed some slightly wrong sequence of characters and now the text looks messed up, ”but“ I cannot figure out how to recover the original formatting without deleting my entire message and starting over. ”

For example: In Markdown, if I have typed

when you do `foo ()` it foos the bar.

it will display, unsurprisingly, as “when you dofoo ()it foos the bar.” However, in the new WYSIWYG editor , it displays as

when you do `foo () it foos the bar.`

That is, closing backticks are not respected! If you want the proper display, you must hit right-arrow after the closing backtick (but before the space). That’s quite a gymnastic for someone with decades of muscle memory.

Now suppose you’ve gotten it displaying right, and now you realize (before hitting Enter) that you really wanted it to ()instead offoo (). In the old Markdown interface, I can just left-arrow until the cursor is located immediately before thefinfoo, and add the new charactersbar.In the WYSIWYG interface, if you follow that same sequence of steps,even though the cursor is clearly displayed inside the code spanwhen it’s located immediately before thef, what you’ll see after this:

when you do bar.`foo () `it foos the bar

I think the only way to insert text at the beginning of a code span in the WYSIWYG editor is to highlight the first character of the span and type over it (thus cloning all its formatting onto the new text you’re typing).

I wish Slack would provide a way to disable the WYSIWYG rich-text-input box. I don’t think it’s useful, and it’s extremely annoying to have to keep backspacing to fix mistakes. I’m already starting to reduce the amount of formatting I use on Slack (e.g., typing “when you do () it foos the bar” without any code highlighting) just so that I can maintain typing speed. But I really don’t want to have to do that! I just want to be able to type Markdown at speed and have it render the way I’ve grown used to.

If you know someone who works at Slack, please feel free to send them a link to this post!


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