Pony Request: Move the italicize button on the mobile site December 11, 2013 2:59 PM   Subscribe

On an iPhone, when you have a body of text entered and selected (as if you were going to italicize to quote someone, the "i" button is placed EXACTLY beneath the "Cut/Copy/Paste" dialog box no matter how you scroll. It's infuriating. The only way to get around it seems to be some random combination of zoom and scroll that sometimes results in it becoming unhidden. I can't be the only one who this drives nuts. What if the italicize button were swapped with the "<" button? Does anyone even use that button?
posted by nathancaswell to Feature Requests at 2:59 PM (53 comments total)

Ancillary request: can we agree that from now on "butts butts butts butts butts butts butts lol butts cat gif snark hamburger" shall be the official lorum ipsum of Metafilter?
posted by nathancaswell at 3:00 PM on December 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


When this happens, try flipping into portrait view. Click the italic and then turn it back.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:02 PM on December 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Does anyone even use that button?

It works fine for shorter quotes. For the longer quotes, I just use quote mars or watch until I'm on my laptop.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:02 PM on December 11, 2013


try flipping into portrait view

OMG you beautiful genius.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:04 PM on December 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


Another option is to use the < button to write out your tags instead of using the italic button. So you'd go to the beginning of what you just posted and write <em> and put </em> at the end. It's not as quick as clicking a button, but it would get around tipping the phone or zooming.

We have those buttons there specifically to help people write tags by hand since it's a couple clicks into the symbol keyboard otherwise.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:08 PM on December 11, 2013


(or use <i> to save a couple taps. I won't tell any standards organizations.)
posted by pb (staff) at 3:09 PM on December 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


Infuriating?
posted by dhammond at 3:12 PM on December 11, 2013


ok, one final option. Paste in all of your text and return a couple times so there are a few empty lines at the bottom of the textarea. Tap, hold, select all, move the selection up to the end of the text. You should have plenty of room to click the buttons now.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:16 PM on December 11, 2013


It's infuriating a minor but consistent inconvenience.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:18 PM on December 11, 2013


This used to drive me crazy too. But I found that if you select the text then click copy, then done, you can then click italic (or bold/link) and it will do its thing even though the text is no longer highlighted.
posted by billiebee at 3:40 PM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


This tab placement issue is not only a problem with Metafilter, but with Stack Exchange sites like Stack Overflow and Biostars, which makes copying and pasting really difficult for answering questions without zoom or rotate gymnastics. I'd second asking to check the client type and then reposition the tabs for mobile devices like iPhones and iPads, but I realize this probably adds a lot of work. Maybe it isn't though since we already check for client types and resize the comment field, so if it isn't too much work to do that, I, too would ask to add this UI fix.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:44 PM on December 11, 2013


Which tabs do you mean? Do you mean the buttons under the comment form?
posted by pb (staff) at 3:50 PM on December 11, 2013


The issue with moving the buttons is there simply isn't much space at all on the screen once you're zoomed in and composing a comment. We could make the textarea smaller and move the buttons down, but the buttons need to be available on the screen while you're composing the comment. And the textarea is already small.

There are a few workarounds we've mentioned here when you need to highlight text. But we do more than highlight text in the form—we compose text there too. And the smaller textarea would mean less space for that.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:52 PM on December 11, 2013


When I am quoting on my phone, I copy the text, go to the compose box and hit the italics button, then press between the two tags to get the past command, then I paste. I do the same thing when italicizing text for emphasis. It's a little harder to do if I want to italicize text after the fact, but I try to keep it to a minimum on the phone anyway.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:53 PM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


"...or use <i> to save a couple taps. I won't tell any standards organizations..."

I totally can't break myself of using <i> instead of <em>. I've been typing it too long. I can do it fast, man, no surprise considering how much I like to italicize.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:55 PM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


em makes me feel like an Irish guy pausing
posted by nathancaswell at 3:59 PM on December 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


em why is that a bad thing?
posted by billiebee at 4:02 PM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


The issue with moving the buttons is there simply isn't much space at all on the screen once you're zoomed in and composing a comment. We could make the textarea smaller and move the buttons down, but the buttons need to be available on the screen while you're composing the comment. And the textarea is already small.

That's cool. Like I said, it might be a lot of work to fix. Just noting agreement with the OP that it is a frustration I share too, and not just for this site but other sites, as well. I get that this is a tough technical problem to solve, given the tradeoffs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:02 PM on December 11, 2013


This used to drive me crazy too. But I found that if you select the text then click copy, then done, you can then click italic (or bold/link) and it will do its thing even though the text is no longer highlighted.

This is how I do it.
posted by winna at 4:27 PM on December 11, 2013


I read that in Montell Jordan's voice
posted by nathancaswell at 4:32 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I won't tell any standards organizations.

As long as we only italicize "span[s] of text in an alternate voice or mood, or otherwise offset from the normal prose in a manner indicating a different quality of text"[1], we can beat the charges. (My mob lawyer told me so.)
posted by stebulus at 4:56 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


pb: "We have those buttons there specifically to help people write tags by hand since it's a couple clicks into the symbol keyboard otherwise."

Really? I kind of feel like those buttons on Metafilter predate the iPhone.
posted by exogenous at 4:58 PM on December 11, 2013


I don't think we say it enough, but pb: the MeFi mobile site is the best on the web, or at least tied for it. There is not a single site I frequent that I have not yelled at, at some point, "Why can't you do this right? MetaFilter does it right and it's got like one guy who doesn't even have a full name."

So thank you.
posted by Etrigan at 5:04 PM on December 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


exogenous, I'm talking about the <, /, and > buttons in the mobile view. I mentioned using them to write out the <em> tags by hand and mentioned why we added them because nathancaswell asked if anyone actually uses them.

Yeah, the B, I, Link buttons have been there forever.
posted by pb (staff) at 5:12 PM on December 11, 2013


the MeFi mobile site is the best on the web

I could not agree more; MeFi's mobile site is easily the best of my internet haunts.
posted by lalex at 5:15 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also agreeing. Most mobile sites are horrendous, but I truly love MeFi's mobile site. It's actually easy to use!
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:15 PM on December 11, 2013


Mobile actually works here, so kudos to pb for everything he does to keep it a smooth experience.
posted by arcticseal at 6:31 PM on December 11, 2013


Just throwing this out there while we're talking about mobile ponies ...

It would be cool to have a "return to thread" link on the "favorited by" page, because sometimes I accidentally pull up the list of people who favorited the thread, rather than the actual thread. Because the "favorited by" page is one of the pages autosuggested by the iphone (if I've recently viewed it).
posted by jayder at 7:01 PM on December 11, 2013


Isn't that link there at the bottom already?
posted by pb (staff) at 7:03 PM on December 11, 2013


Oh and thanks for the kind words about the mobile site. Mobile is a tough balancing act so I'm glad it hear it works some of the time.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:06 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Isn't that link there at the bottom already?

Not on the mobile site.... or is it?
posted by jayder at 7:14 PM on December 11, 2013


Wow ... I feel like a real idiot.
posted by jayder at 7:15 PM on December 11, 2013


Before pasting, tap the I button first, then you have the cursor conveniently placed between the tags, whereupon you do your paste. That's how I avoid this infuriatingly minor annoyance.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:13 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, if you are not using swipe to favorite, I'm sad for you.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:44 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Markdown?
posted by blue_beetle at 5:23 AM on December 12, 2013


Nope, we won't be switching or adding Markdown. For better or worse we're sticking with HTML.
posted by pb (staff) at 6:04 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, this seems to be a problem exclusive to the iPhone 4 form factor, since I can't replicate it on the larger screen.
posted by invitapriore at 7:26 AM on December 12, 2013


Also yeah MetaFilter's mobile site should be a case study for how mobile sites are made. It's intuitive, it's got basically all of the functionality of the desktop site, and you can turn it off if you really want to without spoofing a user agent. Wonderful work, pb!
posted by invitapriore at 7:29 AM on December 12, 2013


Did we jinx the Ask mobile site with praise, or is it just my phone being screwy? This afternoon the Ask menu has a different margin than the list of questions, making the text teeny and leaving a big empty space of green next to the menu links.
posted by oh yeah! at 1:41 PM on December 12, 2013


This afternoon the Ask menu has a different margin than the list of questions, making the text teeny and leaving a big empty space of green next to the menu links.

It's because of the sample URL in this question. It'll scroll off soon enough.
posted by Etrigan at 1:45 PM on December 12, 2013


Fixed. Yeah, someone had a long string of unbroken text. If you know which post is causing it you can flag it as HTML error and we can get those edited. Or we just fix them when we spot them.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:47 PM on December 12, 2013


Rock Steady: "Also, if you are not using swipe to favorite, I'm sad for you."

It is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:38 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is brand new information! I was getting cross because I was swiping away and nothing was happening, but then I realised it only works in the actual thread but not the recent activity page (that's right, yes?) Now I'm going to use up my all favourites every day!
posted by billiebee at 4:48 PM on December 12, 2013


yep that's right, billiebee. It's only available on thread pages. Technically that feature is still in a testing and trying it out phase. It's just been a comically long test.
posted by pb (staff) at 6:34 PM on December 12, 2013


Just checking - is swipe to favourite expected to work on recent Android devices? In chrome 31.0.1650.59 on Android 4.2.2 (which are the latest official releases of each, AFAIK), it doesn't work for me. I've visited the link to turn it on then reloaded pages (or opened pages I hadn't visited before), but swiping across comments doesn't seem to do anything.

Hitting the + button is easy enough on my device so I don't actually need it, I just thought it'd be fun to play with a new-to-me toy.
posted by metaBugs at 5:36 AM on December 13, 2013


pb: It's just been a comically long test.

I think you are approaching Gmail-levels of Beta status at this point.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:27 AM on December 13, 2013


try flipping into portrait view

Are you a wizard?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:48 AM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


...is swipe to favourite expected to work on recent Android devices?

Yes, it should. I just did a test on a similar setup and I had to do a pretty hefty swipe across the comment to get it to register. So I just pushed out an update for Android phones that lowers the sensitivity a bit. So it should be easier to swipe-right across a comment now.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:05 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


oops, meant to say increases the sensitivity.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:17 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks, although it's still not working for me, for some reason. If it works for you (...and no one else is complaining), it must be something odd about my phone, rather than a problem with the site. I've tried swiping left-to-right at various lengths and speeds, and across different parts of the comments, but no luck.

As I said, I can hit the actual favourite button with no difficulty, so this is chasing a feature that I don't actually need. I'm very happy to play with it more if there's anything that would help you determine the cause and if you're interested, but don't lose any sleep on my account :).
posted by metaBugs at 12:24 PM on December 13, 2013


The really annoying thing is that keyboard shortcuts like ctrl-i still work just as well on mobile - try it with a hardware keyboard on your device sometime! - but most software keyboards don't have a ctrl/cmd button.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:55 PM on December 13, 2013


Oh, as of this morning it now works for me. Thanks for whatever magic you did in the background, even if it was just letting your magic admin aura briefly extend to and fix my phone.
posted by metaBugs at 3:08 AM on December 14, 2013


Sure, I lowered the swipe threshold again yesterday and forced a refresh. I'm guessing your phone wasn't picking up the newest version of that file.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:02 AM on December 14, 2013


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