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IPS 4.0: The current state of BBCode and its future. Is BBCODE officially abandoned?

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As a client of InvisionPower, I need to know the status of BBCODE in 4.0 and in future releases and how you plan on resolving existing BBCODE issues.  As I stated in a post in 2013, support forums like BleepingComputer, Emsisoft, Malwarebytes, GeeksToGo and many others rely on the use of BBCode to properly support our users through prewritten canned speeches. I was told by Matt that support would not be abandoned. Based on comments from IPS devs and what we see in the current release, I personally think IPS is going back on this promise.

With the release of IPS 4.0, you have once again introduced many many bugs in the BBCode implementation. These bugs effectively break the formatting in our prewritten support scripts and make it impossible for us to upgrade to 4.0. BBCODE for lists are essentially broken with normal code not formatting correctly and basically no support for nested lists.

I have posted bug reports like this one, but am not sure I should even waste my time posting more. Especially when I am being told that the broken implementation is acceptable and that the devs have "decided not to invest time to "fix" this issue now".

We are not asking for much.  All we want is our BBCode to work.  If it's easier, give us a setting to enable bbcode or wysiwyg editor and keep them separate. Any posts created in the bbcode editor can not be edited in the future by the wysiwyg editor. This would prevent code conflicts.  Even if that does not work, I am sure that there is a solution that once created could easily be ported to future versions of IPS.

So my question to the IPS management and it's devs, who I have sent PMs to notify of this topic, is whether or not BBCode is going to be fixed and supported in 4.0 and in future versions. We need full transparency and not some empty promise to hold us over.  Your answers will decide whether my site, and others that I have spoken to, will continue using your product on our sites and future ones.

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IPS4 supports BBCode and we have no intention to remove that in the foreseeable future. If you see any issues, please open a bug report or file a support request. It looks like that bug report was closed in error, and I've re-opened it - thanks for letting us know about that :) 

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We are pretty much in the same boat as Lawrence. Every single big IP.Board release that we experienced (3.3, 3.4, 4.0) has been breaking fundamental BBCode constructs for us that all our employees and volunteers use dozens of times every day. What makes things especially frustrating is that in every single case you didn't even have to touch corner cases to break things. Just use two separate lists in the same post in 4.0 and you end up with results that will leave you completely baffled. I can understand that bugs happen, but especially for the LIST tag having to jump through the same hoops on every bigger release is becoming increasingly frustrating, since these are the kinds of bugs you would expect every halfway decent test suite to find.

 

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Apologies, but the lack of any way to EDIT BBCode makes it clear that it's now the unloved stepchild.  Sure, we can type it in, but once it's saved, bye-bye - you can either edit it in WYSIWYG, or in HTML if you have permissions. So what do we do with people who want to edit in BBCode (which given the almighty mess the WYSIWYG editor can get itself into, is plenty of them) but who can't get HTML permissions? This seems like some halfway house - at least give us a safe HTML editing mode or something. 

Edit: Just wanted to say that I agree with the above. I've posted bugs myself which make me think BBCode wasn't given even the most cursory of testing. 

 

Edited by rgf100

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Apologies, but the lack of any way to EDIT BBCode makes it clear that it's now the unloved stepchild.

Yes, and I think it makes sense. BB Code was once invented, when plain text fields were not enough, but WYSIWYG editors were technically not possible. That was the only reason. BB codes are now slowly phased out and some legacy support to input bb code, but convert it to the standard editor mode (i.e. full HTML) is offered as interims solution. It works for users who really want to manually type it in, but for the regular users it disappears and can fall slowly out of use this way. Makes sense to me. 

Do you guys expect that your bb codes set up will continue forever? At some point you will need to convert to newer HTML solution. So why not now? If it’s about specific things like canned speed, then I would rather ask about how you can use those with the new HTML system instead of insisting that bb-codes must continue to work, just because it used to work this way in the past. It’s like saying: we made all our web banners in Flash in the last 10 years and have all our files prepared this way, so Flash must be supported forever, so we never ever have to change anything with our workflow. The web doesn’t work like that. 

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I'd be happy with an HTML solution - but as I understand it we can currently either enable ALL HTML for a usergroup, or NONE. We'd need an option where you can use only certain tags, and style and javascript can't be used. You'd want it to be simple to use and for it to be commonly used across different forum and blog packages. Y'know, like BBCode...

It makes no sense to me that we can type in BBCode and have it work - but then can't access it to edit.

Edited by rgf100

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 We'd need an option where you can use only certain tags, and style and javascript can't be used. 

Well, that’s how it works. You normally don’t give regular users HTML-access and the buttons and HTML pasting settings define what a user can input. 

It makes no sense to me that we can type in BBCode and have it work - but then can't access it to edit. 

Yes, I agree somewhat to that and actually think that the current solution to input bb-codes (which are then converted) as an interims solution actually causes more harm than good. But if that would be removed, people would freak out even more …

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Well, that’s how it works. You normally don’t give regular users HTML-access and the buttons and HTML pasting settings define what a user can input. 

Sadly the buttons define not what a user can input. If you remove a button users can still copy & paste its actions (okay it can be disabled but only system wide and not per usergroup/permissions) or use the equivalent BBCode (which is not deactivatable).

See also here: https://community.invisionpower.com/4bugtrack/not-possible-to-deactivate-wysiwygtext-formatting-per-usergroup-r6420/

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I've been converting my members to using non-BBCode since the 3.0 series since we have a WYSIWYG editor. I've changed over all templates to a copy and paste templates. The only thing it hadn't worked on was Mobile and now mobile has the full editor as well (well the mobile full but it's still a WYSIWYG editor). I think it's far easier honestly.

I know there will still be botch ups since my forum is the most advanced in my community (I mean most of my competitors are using IF which is IPB 1.3 or MyBB) but I have no problem in fixing a thing or two every once in a while if someone asks me because they are having issues.

I know that it seems difficult and that people are just so used to it but I mean think about how they use programs like Word or other similar writing programs it's fundamentally the same I mean you aren't going to put [b*] inside of Word (without the star of course) and expect it to bold your font when you save it so the editor is starting to get that smart too.

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Flash is a bad analogy. Bbcode is neither a resource hog or security risk. It has much more common with HTML.

Just as HTML is crossbrowser, bbcode should be cross bulletin board. I should be able to format a post using notepad or a third party code generator and paste that code into any bulletin board and expect consistent results. I frequently use IPB, vB, PHPBB, Wolflab and Xenforo. iPB is the only one consistently breaking bbcode.

It's not like we're asking for support of an edge case. We're asking bulletin board software to fully support bulletin board code (bbcode).

IPS4 supports BBCode and we have no intention to remove that in the foreseeable future.

Actions speak louder than words. How about a release version that doesn't break bbcode?

We are pretty much in the same boat as Lawrence. Every single big IP.Board release that we experienced (3.3, 3.4, 4.0) has been breaking fundamental BBCode constructs...

Sure WYsIWYG is sexy, intuitive for new users, and meets the needs of 90% of posts. But if you have a community more than a few years old with decent views, you'll soon learn the posts that are generating the traffic are often a how-to guide, well maintained list, or other complex post generated by a power user, who used bbcode.

The tech industry is littered with corpses of companies and communities who ignore their power users.

I was actually hoping IPB4 would use a modular editor plugin. So you could chose from the default WYSIWYG editor, a third-party WYSIWYG, or something completely different like bbcode or Markdown.

If you chose to put your head in the sand, and pretend there are no communities outside of yours, and no community software outside of IPB, then yes iIPB's WYSIWYG editor is perfect for you.

Edited by blair
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I have posted bug reports like this one, but am not sure I should even waste my time posting more.

I got the same feeling after reporting BBCode bugs.

Well, that’s how it works. You normally don’t give regular users HTML-access and the buttons and HTML pasting settings define what a user can input. 

rgf100 is right, this is not how it currently works in IPS.

In this forum it is enough to disable Javascript to be able to post HTML (and to use tags the editor does not provide as buttons).  You can also get around the limitation using the browser's developer tools, using C&P, etc.  Thus, regular users do have HTML access.

As far as I can tell, IPS correctly filter HTML posted in such ways, removing dangerous HTML.  Therefore, I don't understand why we can't have a "source" button in the editor, and still limit the allowed HTML.

If there are security issues, the people that knows such security issues will certainly also know these hacks to post HTML.  On the other hand, not having such button to allow HTML input makes it more difficult for a regular user to get around the editor limitations.

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In this forum it is enough to disable Javascript to be able to post HTML (and to use tags the editor does not provide as buttons).  You can also get around the limitation using the browser's developer tools, using C&P, etc.  Thus, regular users do have HTML access.

Well, a web WYSIWYG editor is purely JavaScript-based. Whatever it does needs JavaScript and 97% of the users have that turned on. So when I explain, how it works, I am referring to how it works 97% of the time and not to possible hacks. If you see serious problems with such hacks, feel free to report them as bugs. But I don’t know what these possibilities would have to do with anything that was discussed here. 

As far as I can tell, IPS correctly filter HTML posted in such ways, removing dangerous HTML.  Therefore, I don't understand why we can't have a "source" button in the editor, and still limit the allowed HTML.

You could start an individual feature request about this. Again, it’s not really related to what is discussed here. 

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I find the html editor to be very difficult to use, as it creates the html in a single run on line which makes it almost impossible to read comfortably. The old system of BBCode was so much easier and cleaner. Do many people  really need the ability to write full html with javascripts and divs in a message post? Maybe one tenth of a percent of users could even utilize that.

BBCode seems to be the safe and easy way to grant a basic source editor to all users. But having said that I don't think it will ever come back. Seeing the new editor my gut feeling is it is gone for ever.

Edited by Vroom

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 Do many people  really need the ability to write full html with javascripts and divs in a message post? 

No, but that also isn’t the point of HTML-based WYSIWYG editors. The point is not to be required to code anything at all. 

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I find the html editor to be very difficult to use, as it creates the html in a single run on line which makes it almost impossible to read comfortably. The old system of BBCode was so much easier and cleaner. Do many people  really need the ability to write full html with javascripts and divs in a message post? Maybe one tenth of a percent of users could even utilize that.

BBCode seems to be the safe and easy way to grant a basic source editor to all users. But having said that I don't think it will ever come back. Seeing the new editor my gut feeling is it is gone for ever.

Agreed, I am a web dev, and even I get easily lost in all the code that IPS throws in, mixed with it being on one line... good lord.

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So why not now? If it’s about specific things like canned speed, then I would rather ask about how you can use those with the new HTML system instead of insisting that bb-codes must continue to work, just because it used to work this way in the past. It’s like saying: we made all our web banners in Flash in the last 10 years and have all our files prepared this way, so Flash must be supported forever, so we never ever have to change anything with our workflow. The web doesn’t work like that. 

Ralf based on what you have posted you do not understand our communities, why we need BBCode, and why BBCode is so important to us.  BBCode is not only important because it allows the same, if not more fine tuned, formatting as the IPS WYSIWYG editor, but more importantly because it's portable. A canned speech created for the WYSIWYG editor here on IPB may simply not be compatible at another forum where our users help at as well.  BBCode is important because it allows any canned speech to be portable between any other type of forum, almost all of which still support BBCode. 

As stated by someone else, what you are telling us is to go straight to all our forum volunteers and tell them, that from now on, instead of using the same canned speeches that they use in all the XenForo, SMF, vBulletin and phpBB communities they participate in, they now have to duplicate all their efforts and maintain a special set of canned speeches just for us, because InvisionPower continues to break BBCode. When they ask why, I can tell them, because that is how the web works and if they disagree they are just stuck in the past and they probably wish Flash banners would come back.

It's going to be great. Just watch!

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As stated by someone else, what you are telling us is to go straight to all our forum volunteers and tell them, that from now on, instead of using the same canned speeches that they use in all the XenForo, SMF, vBulletin and phpBB communities they participate in, they now have to duplicate all their efforts and maintain a special set of canned speeches just for us, because InvisionPower continues to break BBCode. When they ask why, I can tell them, because that is how the web works and if they disagree they are just stuck in the past and they probably wish Flash banners would come back.

It's going to be great. Just watch!

No need for these polemic exaggerations to make my statements look foolish. I’m here for for factual discussion, not for for rhetoric battles. 

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Maybe a little sarcasm and a small jibe, but definitely not exaggerations or an attack. These are simply the facts when it comes to sites like mine. Just because something may not be important for your site, does not mean it is not for others.

Edited by grinler

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[b]This is an old BBCode Template that you are talking about[/b]
Copying and pasting issues, I personally had the problem a lot in 3.0 so I opted to change to Rich Text Codes instead.

This is an old BBCode Template that you are talking about
Copying and pasting issues, I personally had the problem a lot in 3.0 so I opted to change to Rich Text Codes instead.

You can Copy and paste the code or copy and paste the Quote. Both will do the same thing. The only difference is the way it displays to the end user that is copying it. They don't have to change WHAT they copy. It's just a matter of changing how they think of it. I don't know about you but I can always copy a template as long as they are available, if you give them the correct template (without the code) it's the same thing as giving them the same template WITH the code.

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@Ralph H. Would you agree that you should be able to create a list of pros and a list of cons at PHPBB.com, copy and paste it here and retain the formatting? Because you can't and that's but one example. What about the same list created here and copied to PHPBB.com... Again you can't.

What if you had a catalog of replies, and you never knew what would work and what wouldn't with each new release of IPB? That's the dilema faced by some communities. Just because the problem didn't affect you, doesn't mean it's not real.

Edited by blair

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