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UBB to HTML
November 8, 2003 4:17 PM   Subscribe

So I can't be the only person consistently hitting preview and correcting all my UBB to HTML. It doesn't seem like it would be too hard to automagically correct the standardest of standard UBB ([b] [i] [u] are pretty much the only ones I ever use) codes to HTML. So, I'm requesting it as a feature.
posted by kavasa to Feature Requests at 4:17 PM (69 comments total)

HTML is a World Wide Web Consortium recommended standard. Where as the UBB is a language created by Ultimate Bulletin Board. Wouldn't it be better to just learn HTML or the buttons below the form just like the UBB forms?
posted by riffola at 4:38 PM on November 8, 2003


I'll be the first to volunteer the information that I don't have ANY idea what either of them just said.
posted by yhbc at 4:41 PM on November 8, 2003


kavasa, try the following:
Instead of [b]bold[/b] try <b>bold</b>, [i]italics[/i] try <i>italics</i> & [u]underline[/u] try <u>underline</u>
posted by riffola at 4:45 PM on November 8, 2003


Angle brackets are your friend. Get in the habit of using HTML. It's a damned simple move to make, toward a general standard, and will require less effort from you than the feature request would require from Matt.
posted by cortex at 4:48 PM on November 8, 2003


Yeah!

[Joins yhbc in the corner]
posted by i_cola at 4:50 PM on November 8, 2003


And why are there no bold/italic/link buttons for Safari users? ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:01 PM on November 8, 2003


*grumble* message boards *grumble* riff raff *grumble* AOL *grumble* what are they teacihng in school these days? *grumble* next they'll be asking for an [allcaps] tag *grumble*
posted by Space Coyote at 5:11 PM on November 8, 2003


And little smiley face animated gifs!
posted by TimeFactor at 5:35 PM on November 8, 2003


So I can't be the only person consistently hitting preview and correcting all my UBB to HTML.

um, yah, pretty much...

:-)
posted by quonsar at 5:36 PM on November 8, 2003


Can we have picture avatars beside our messages too?


posted by Space Coyote at 6:13 PM on November 8, 2003


So, I'm requesting it as a feature.

Was a sadder, more futile sentence ever written?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:51 PM on November 8, 2003


\/\/e |\|3E|) [lE3+] +a9$.
posted by punishinglemur at 7:38 PM on November 8, 2003


Sigs, damn it, we need sigs!!!
posted by mischief at 7:54 PM on November 8, 2003


I just don't know.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:24 PM on November 8, 2003


and a Private Message function!

also I'd like to mark all threads as read.
posted by Mick at 8:31 PM on November 8, 2003


Why not pipe codes too? And other things from Bulletin boards. That way I could tell everyone that your password was %P.. wouldn't that be fun, %U?!
posted by Hildago at 8:38 PM on November 8, 2003


I've been using HTML for about 7 years, so the ease with which I use it is probably uncharacteristic of a general population, yet I fail to understand the question. Nevertheless, what the fuck is UBB and why would I want to use it over perfectly normal HTML?
posted by majick at 8:41 PM on November 8, 2003


"...what the fuck is UBB..."

It's a bastardization of HTML.

"...and why would I want to use it over perfectly normal HTML?"

Because you got to the Web late, and you learned formatting on some chintzy-ass bulletin board that discusses Britney Spears' latest titty-peek.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:45 PM on November 8, 2003


but, but, what about the site that shall not be named?
posted by machaus at 9:01 PM on November 8, 2003


Which site that "shall not be named"? There are so many I have a hard time keeping track.

Kavasa, for the most part (especially if all you care about is bold and italics) you can get away with replacing the square brackets with angle ones. For example, [b] and [/b] become <b> and </b>. I've never seen the point to UBB markup when you can allow a limited tag set in the first place in most forum software.

If you want to post images (generally a bad idea), your just going to have to pick up a bit of [X]HTML. It should take you all of an hour.
posted by cedar at 9:16 PM on November 8, 2003


I think we have here is a failure to communicate.

He didn't say he had no idea how to write HTML, in fact he said he corrected his errors to proper HTML all by himself.

My impression was that he spends more time in the UBB world, and his brain is wired to do it that way by default. He is asking that, when he clicks the preview button, this error be corrected for him.

That being said, it doesn't seem to be a feature with a great need. A slight increase in kavasa's mindfulness due to the sting of this thrashing should be enough to effect a change. ;)
posted by jester69 at 9:41 PM on November 8, 2003


Ah, jester you are correct! Sorry about that kavasa.
posted by riffola at 10:43 PM on November 8, 2003


Wow, way to be (mostly) ridiculously snotty geeks with a flair for failing at reading comprehension. I'd like to reiterate this part of my post:

So I can't be the only person consistently hitting preview and correcting all my UBB to HTML.

My goodness, and look at that, it's even the first sentence! Simply astonishing how almost everyone totally missed it. Perhaps yet more astonishing is that so many of you seem inclined to believe you are somehow superior to me because... I'm not sure really, I can't make too much sense out of it. I spend some amount of my time on messageboards, primarily the boards at ArsTechnica, filled with all manner of technically savvy persons who know interesting, helpful things. As such - especially since I post to mefi rarely - I've gotten used to the bulletin board codes, and if it took more than ten lines of anything to convert [b] to ‹b›, whoever wrote it would be an astonishingly bad coder. It is in fact the utterly trivial nature of the request that made me spend the ten seconds writing the post.

I swear to god.
"Ooooh look at us at metafilter, we're so much better than the unwashed hordes of the internet who post at icky messageboards!" Get over yourselves.
posted by kavasa at 12:42 AM on November 9, 2003


And just to clarify, I don't have any sort of feeling of entitlement. It's trivial and worth flipping mentioning, and I'll hardly lose any sleep over it not being implemented - although it appears that some of you would if it were.
posted by kavasa at 12:44 AM on November 9, 2003


I do it all the time. If you check my posting history (I suggest you don't) you'll probably find two or three instances where I didn't even edit it because I'm slow.

I know HTML, and I used it first, but I haven't coded much of anything in the past few years, so I forget what I'm doing on occasion.
posted by The God Complex at 12:55 AM on November 9, 2003


<ooga>
html, or hottentot munchkin linguistics, as it is known amongst the ubergeekery, is rich in horticultural pseudoneumonics, and provides 17% of the daily minimum requirement of gallium arsenide in men over 40. prior to bill gates astounding invention of practically everything, hottentot munchkins were forced to use dried human femurs, often larger than they were, as the basis for global communications. with the advent of fly-by wireless technology, precise hovercraft positioning is not only desirable, but well-formed. neither is hester, who unless her tomorrow, too. now, run fetch daddy's bright blue wig, for i must be handsome when i release my rage.
</booga>

*clanks, emits black smoke*
posted by quonsar at 1:28 AM on November 9, 2003


yeah, i'm with quonsar on this one.
posted by mokey at 2:38 AM on November 9, 2003


"Wow, way to be (mostly) ridiculously snotty geeks with a flair for failing at reading comprehension."

Snotty little twat.

I was all set to apologise for misunderstanding the post and not paying proper attention... until your charming follow-up. Since your so big on reading comprehension maybe you'd like to take a fresh look at the about page (surely you read it at some point), "Metafilter is a weblog."

My goodness, and look at that, it's even the first sentence!

Yet, you request forum features to a site you "rarely post to." As you say, it's trivial to convert UBB code to HTML... oh wait, you meant for someone else to do it for you. That makes it even easier.
posted by cedar at 5:12 AM on November 9, 2003


"you'll probably find two or three instances where I didn't even edit it"
Probably the best solution overall, we still get the point.
posted by mischief at 6:07 AM on November 9, 2003


Can I have a feature which redirects some of the more random idiomatic possibilities towards a clearer status of affairs? That would be good.
posted by feelinglistless at 6:29 AM on November 9, 2003


Nevertheless, what the fuck is UBB and why would I want to use it over perfectly normal HTML?

And you thought your comment from a position of admitted ignorance contributed to this thread how?
posted by rushmc at 6:52 AM on November 9, 2003


And you thought your comment from a position of admitted ignorance contributed to this thread how?

See, the thing is, yours didn't contribute either. And neither does this one.

Just like all the rest of this crap.

Except quonsar's.
posted by gleuschk at 10:09 AM on November 9, 2003


kavasa, are they as sick of you over as ArsTechnica (see, it helps if you link to an actual URL) as I am here?

Yes, mathowie could code an REReplace( message, "\[(.)\]", "< \1>", "ALL" ) and replace the brackets around single character expressions with angle braces. Oh, wait, but you don't want to match "[]]" so try "\[([^\]])\]". Oh, and you need to match the closing tag so how about "\[(/{0,1}[^\]])\]". Or, maybe "\[(/{0,1}[a-zA-Z])\]" would be better if UBB tags are only letters - I guess he'd better read the UBB documentation...

Then he has to test it, since any hack to the message parser could fuck MeFi right up. Of course, this has to be done on a dev server, and then he has to migrate it into production and test it again. Then he has to document the change somewhere for users, since otherwise someone's weird smiley is going to turn into an un-closed tag.

Of course, you'll be happy to pay him for his time, right? No, I didn't think so.

Now run back to the Semantic Web thread and admit you didn't know what you were talking about there either. Thanks.
posted by nicwolff at 10:45 AM on November 9, 2003


Interesting that Kavasa chides everybody for not reading his message, but somehow misses that this fact had already been pointed out and apologized for.
posted by Hildago at 11:18 AM on November 9, 2003


well, i'm with kavasa here. you pretty much all acted like arseholes and are continuing to do so.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:28 AM on November 9, 2003


Amen, andrew.
posted by ashbury at 12:09 PM on November 9, 2003


Me three, I've been building web sites daily since 1995, and am a regular on a bunch of messageboards, most of which use UBB. Somewhere in my brain writing-in-textarea-field == UBB not HTML. This has nothing to do with my comfort level writing HTML.

It seemed like a perfectly reasonable request, and the response he got was elitist and at least mildly obnoxious (the aforementioned reading comprehension problems, snotty posts about graphic smilies, britney spears, etc).

He may have over-reacted, but I would have bristled too given the reaction.

The point of UBB, btw, is that it allows you to completely strip HTML tags from posts and only allow a very limited subset of HTML functions. I'm guessing it started either because the UBB coders didn't want to deal with the regex, or because they want to easily be able to discuss HTML in their forums. I don't completely agree with the idea, but I also don't understand the bizarre reaction above.

Oh, and as an aside to nicowolff: The way to do this would be a straight, non-regex replace, just replace the italic, bold and underline tag directly. Which is not to say it's worth matt's time, but you are overstating the case a bit.
posted by malphigian at 12:34 PM on November 9, 2003


Oh crumbs, am I the only one using <strong> and <em> instead? Doh.
posted by wackybrit at 12:59 PM on November 9, 2003


You'll have to replace the closing tags, too.

My point was that one does not just hack little changes into complex production systems, and that asserting that someone else ought do so on their dime because if they can't they're an "astonishingly bad coder" is just crap.

And I got snarky just because kavasa had the same wildly supercilious reaction to having his errors pointed out in the other thread I linked to, and called me "a ridiculous prick" - hey, I'm not ridiculous!
posted by nicwolff at 1:14 PM on November 9, 2003


I think you won that one though, nicwolff, if only for this sentence:

Wrongitty wrongitty super-wrong with wrong on top.

I'm using that on my students tomorrow.
posted by gleuschk at 1:55 PM on November 9, 2003


Hildago - I said "some" "most" etc. Sort of a "you know who you are" thing.

nic - it's a feature request category. I requested a feature. It cost me ten seconds to write the post, and presumably it cost Matt ten seconds (or less!) to read it and decide whether he wanted to do it or not. You'll note I specifically said I don't have any feeling of entitlement. I simply think it was worth requesting, especially since he's already got all the machinery to pipe text into something that evaluates them. Writing the additional code to change the above three tags is trivial, which is pretty much what I was thinking. "Maybe he'll see this and say "hey, I could do that in 10 minutes"" If he doesn't want to, or it would take more time than that, that's cool, it was still worth making a request.

Furthermore, I'd like to say that taking the sort of relish necessary to write something like "Wrongitty wrongitty super-wrong with wrong on top." is, again, pretty much the sign of a ridiculous prick - even if you're right. It's true! To form an argument from a set you need to have an inconsistent set, take one member of that set and set its negation as the conclusion and have the remainder of the set be consistent. Curses, I forgot a technicality of set-theoretical logic (which I never use for anything), you sure showed me! Well, it's a good thing I take pleasure in life from things other than winning arguments on the internet.*

However, if you'd like to become my Metafilter Nemesis, go for it.

Cedar - so sorry I returned snide insults for snide insults. What was I thinking? I shall remember to always take the high road and be unfailingly polite in the face of unjustified rudeness in the future, so as to earn any more apologies you may have forthcoming.

"Yet, you request forum features to a site you "rarely post to.""

DEAR GOD. A request - what is the world coming to? When people feel free to ask for favors in a forum specifically set apart for favor-asking, I just don't know what to think any more.

*like posting to them.
posted by kavasa at 2:10 PM on November 9, 2003


kavasa, the response you got was certainly a bit rude, but I'll let the rest of you slug out a "who is whose nemesis" type of pixel wasting exercise.

That being said, you know html, this isn't a BB, and even if this was a 10-minute job for Matt (and I get the sense it isn't), the payoff seems trivial enough (does converting add, what, 5-10 seconds to the posting process?) that I don't see the need for it (pointing out that I'm fully aware my opinion and a buck-seventy-eight gets you a venti breakfast blend).

You may return to the regularly scheduled insults.
posted by jalexei at 2:39 PM on November 9, 2003


MetaFilter
posted by nicwolff at 3:51 PM on November 9, 2003


kavasa, a suggestion: you'd get a much better response if you posted your request in the form of, "So, like, i'm totally digging quonsar. He's cool"
posted by poopy at 4:39 PM on November 9, 2003


I just don't know.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:57 PM on November 9, 2003


See, the thing is, yours didn't contribute either.

Well, I'd have taken it to Meta, but... [shrug]

it's a feature request category. I requested a feature. It cost me ten seconds to write the post, and presumably it cost Matt ten seconds (or less!) to read it and decide whether he wanted to do it or not.

Well, you're correct, and that's how it used to work but, alas, the man is feeling a mite sensitive about these things of late, for whatever reason(s). [second shrug]
posted by rushmc at 6:18 PM on November 9, 2003


The trouble is that []'s are a standard typographic symbol, for inserting context into quotes. For example, you see this all the time: "he [quonsar] is a registered sex offender in the state of Michigan".

Further problems would arise if you tried to cut and paste something from another web page that contained the []'s. UBB code is more than just the [b], [i], they also have [url=http://www.metafilter.com]link text[/url] and [img]http://blah.com/img1.jpg[/img] nonsense, (the inconsistency between the two boggles the mind even more).

So basically, it would break cut and paste, force me to parse through my quotes to make sure there aren't any []'s and replace them with .. what? Oh right, nothing.

I vote no.

And am now awaiting to hear what an elitist snot I am.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:59 PM on November 9, 2003


Can I be a ridiculously snotty geek and an elitist snob too? Please, oh please?

And how about a free pony?
posted by Orb at 8:19 PM on November 9, 2003


the vast majority of hits to my site get 403 forbidden errors returned. that's because the vast majority of hits are requests for images that bbs dorks want to use in thier stupid fucking sigs on thier stupid fucking brittney's bellybutton lint discussions. i don't know how such ignomious dorks ever discovered my site anyway, it's almost as if they think actually blort caters to stupid fucking bbs dorks. can you imagine?
posted by quonsar at 8:20 PM on November 9, 2003


omg! u hav3 8rittn3ys 8377y8utt0n 7int @ 870RT?!?!?!?! D00D!!!!!
posted by yhbc at 9:23 PM on November 9, 2003


I'd just like to state that I am now available to be someone's Metafilter Nemesis.
posted by majcher at 9:39 PM on November 9, 2003


"your comment from a position of admitted ignorance contributed to this thread how?"

Twofold: First through suggesting that the unmistakable obscureness of the feature request makes it worth shooting down. Also, it could very well elicit some sort of response as to, as I asked, what the fuck UBB is. Both contributions appear to have been at least partially successful. But thanks for the random act of smiting anyway!
posted by majick at 10:24 PM on November 9, 2003


Hey look! Yet another MeTa thread that has devolved into rudeness and spitefulness. How new! How invigorating! How fresh and novel! How unlike the members of metafilter!

How pathetic.
posted by ashbury at 11:24 PM on November 9, 2003


PATHETIC!
posted by ashbury at 11:25 PM on November 9, 2003


The trouble is that []'s are a standard typographic symbol

kavasa was suggesting a replacement for only [b], [i], and [u] (and the matching closes).
posted by eddydamascene at 11:54 PM on November 9, 2003


[S]how [t]his [b]old [P]russian [t]hat [p]raises [s]laughter, [s]laughter [b]rings [r]out.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:08 AM on November 10, 2003


[B]ritney's [B]ellybutton [S]tuff.

[D]oh!

PrinceValium, check your e-mail.
posted by wendell at 1:28 AM on November 10, 2003


MetaTalk: I think we have here is a failure to communicate.
posted by walrus at 2:47 AM on November 10, 2003


I was all set to apologise for misunderstanding the post and not paying proper attention... until your charming follow-up.

agreed.

honey and vinegar kavasa, honey and vinegar.
posted by joedan at 3:17 AM on November 10, 2003



posted by quonsar at 3:59 AM on November 10, 2003


I'd just like to state that I am now available to be someone's Metafilter Nemesis.
Ooh, me me me!
posted by pizzasub at 8:35 AM on November 10, 2003


Honey and vinegar? Are we talking about salad dressings now?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:13 AM on November 10, 2003


Personally, I give it two years before Matt converts the text area to use Wiki formatting.
And then you'll all be sorry.
posted by seanyboy at 7:15 AM on November 11, 2003


ReStructured Text format, hopefully. Kicks ass.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:57 AM on November 11, 2003


Maybe metafilter could invent yet another markup and use that instead! With another, completely different markup for metatalk! I know I certainly don't get to use my curly braces or function keys enough, and I definitely don't have the opportunity to hold down ctrl, alt, shift and escape all at the same time — we should put them all in! </sarcasm>

This is the web; the web is spec'ed to use HTML/CSS. Perhaps UBB "should automagically correct the standardest of standard" <HTML> to [UBB] format, and then we'd all be fine. After all, "[i]t doesn't seem like it would be too hard".

(having just written that, there is a great example of why replacing [i] with anything can be dangerous)
posted by Lionfire at 8:04 PM on November 11, 2003


You *might* actually want to google for some information on ReST[1] before you freak out, Lionfire.

You see:
- if you've been around email any length of time, you've *already* been using ReST without knowing it.
- it doesn't make use of any arcane markup.
- it looks just fine even without transformation to HTML.

But, hey, go off the deep end without knowing, k?

[1] ReStructured Text, http://docutils.sourceforge.net/docs/rst/quickref.html
posted by five fresh fish at 8:29 PM on November 11, 2003


Er... I did look it up before I went "off the deep end" (despite having looked at it some time ago before deciding to just write an XHTML parser/fixer/stripper). My comments were mostly aimed at UBB "markup", but feel free to apply them to ReStructured Text as well.

HTML may not be perfect, but it's what we're using on the web. Sure, there are better ways to present this to a user (such as Midas), but coming up with yet another markup is not the solution. Yes, we use structured formatting when communicating in plaintext, but that structure is not formalised. The very fact that documentation is required to understand a markup means that it is little better than HTML itself.

Perhaps this is the reason that so many forums only provide plaintext. Anything else is likely to spawn this sort of argument.
posted by Lionfire at 1:16 AM on November 13, 2003


Yes, we use structured formatting when communicating in plaintext, but that structure is not formalised.

It is completely formalized. That is why there is a document specifying its conventions.

It is far better than HTML because it is very simple and uses conventions that many people -- non-geek people -- already use.

Non-geek is important.

Midas, btw, isn't cross-browser compatible.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:10 AM on November 13, 2003


Can you please provide a link to the RFC for structured text in plaintext communication (such as in email)?

Also, given that you seem to have some understanding that the rest of us lack, can you explain how ReStructured Text's hyperlink notation is "non-geek"? How does a one write the equivalent to <a href="http://www.metfilter.com/">nice text</a> using simple, non-geek conventions?

Finally, while other browsers are not currently supported by the Midas demo I linked, many browsers have a similar subset of functionality. The demo is apparently being updated to demonstrate a smaller set of functions on non-Mozilla browsers. You might also like to have a look at mozile, which is an alternative eDOM-based editor that might have better support in IE.
posted by Lionfire at 6:51 PM on November 13, 2003


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