• Register
PhysicsOverflow is a next-generation academic platform for physicists and astronomers, including a community peer review system and a postgraduate-level discussion forum analogous to MathOverflow.

Welcome to PhysicsOverflow! PhysicsOverflow is an open platform for community peer review and graduate-level Physics discussion.

Please help promote PhysicsOverflow ads elsewhere if you like it.


Migration to Bielefeld University was successful!

Please vote for this year's PhysicsOverflow ads!

Please do help out in categorising submissions. Submit a paper to PhysicsOverflow!

... see more

Tools for paper authors

Submit paper
Claim Paper Authorship

Tools for SE users

Search User
Reclaim SE Account
Request Account Merger
Nativise imported posts
Claim post (deleted users)
Import SE post

Users whose questions have been imported from Physics Stack Exchange, Theoretical Physics Stack Exchange, or any other Stack Exchange site are kindly requested to reclaim their account and not to register as a new user.

Public \(\beta\) tools

Report a bug with a feature
Request a new functionality
404 page design
Send feedback


(propose a free ad)

Site Statistics

129 submissions , 109 unreviewed
3,743 questions , 1,307 unanswered
4,707 answers , 19,913 comments
1,470 users with positive rep
460 active unimported users
More ...

Simplifying the editor

+ 0 like - 0 dislike

In Ron Maimon's answer (linked below), he says that we should remove the "gadgets" at the top of the editor. I disagree that we should remove all the buttons, since this is a WYSIWYG editor, however, indeed some of them can go.   

So I have set this thread up to discuss exactly which buttons we don't need,  etc.    

Also, I have noticed that it is difficult to understand all the buttons at first glance. I think some of the icons should be changed or replaced with text. 

So, basically, use this thread to suggest changes to the editor. 

related to an answer for: Site Design
asked Mar 15, 2014 in Feature Request by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ no revision ]
Most voted comments show all comments

@physicsnewbie That surely doesn't work on chrome/chromium. It is also useless to have a hoard of unhelpful buttons, which nobody will ever use, and keep scrolling for simple tasks (in the styles). 

More than anything else, I would like to be able to write using markdown. It is slowly but almost surely becoming an internet-wide standard. Fwiw, I think the Phy.SE editor is quite excellent.

@Siva It was my first idea to use this markdown editor with LaTeX. The issue of this editor is that Markdown is applied to the page first. For example the underscore is used to indicate italics, and this usage will conflict with MathJax’s use of the underscore to indicate a subscript. Before the MathJax renders the page, the editor will convert the subscripts markers into italics (inserting <i> tags into your mathematics, which will cause MathJax to ignore the math). Another example are escape sequences, as know from the programming language C or C++. For instance \n is an end-of-line or \t is a tab, but \\ is a backslash. During the transform of an edited text into a html-coded text, the Markdown Editor “eats” one of these backslashes. Therefore, a \\\ was required to make the \\ survive in MathJax arrays. During the first developments I found a way of preprocessing the edited text by replacing Latex sequences by tags and inserting these blocks at the end by a postprocessing. This worked fine for the live preview, but by unknown reasons not for the real posting. After some days of frustration and anger, I gave up and developed the actual editor plugin based on CKEditor with a MathJax plugin.

The importing system uses the already formatted html code, as provided by the API.

I'm so used to md+mathjax  ( I use stackedit.io ) and I like to write first in another editor and finally paste the contents to the answer window.  It is more confortable without clicking in the icons.

@HelderVelez You're right, however, the markdown editor is unfortunately incompatible with PhysicsOverflow. The best you can do is use the HTML editor (using the Source button).

Most recent comments show all comments

@Siva I remember that PolarKernel told us that when one writes the double-slashes in the arrays \\, one of the slashes is swallowed up by the editor because it interferes with the internal code for the editor or something like that, so one would need to write \\\ instead of \\. This will be confusing for new users, and it will be a huge task to fix all the old imported questions.  

How does the importing system currently work? Does it import HTML text that is already formatted?

13 Answers

+ 2 like - 0 dislike


Under "Styles", get rid of these: 

  • Italic title - Don't need 
  • Subtitle - Don't need    
  • Special Container - Indistinguishable from Blockquote  
  • Typewriter - Indistinguishable from Computer Code   
  • Keyboard Phr...  - Indistinguishable from Computer Code   
  • Sample Text  - Indistinguishable from Computer Code   
  • Variable - Duplicate of Italix
  • Deleted Text - Duplicate of Strikethrough  
  • Inserted Text - Duplicate of Underline 
  • Cited Work - Duplicate of Italix
  • Inline Quotation - Nobody will use this 
  • Language: RTL - This site is not in Arabic 
  • Language: LTR  - Default.  
answered Mar 15, 2014 by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ revision history ]
edited Mar 28, 2014 by dimension10


@polarkernel Thanks, however for me at least I still see them. 

+ 1 like - 0 dislike


Please remove the following buttons: 

  • \(\Omega\) (symbols) is unnecessary as most of these symbols are either not used in physics or can simply be added from the keyboard.   
  • (cut, copy, paste, paste2, undo, redo) all can be done trivially through the keyboard, and most browsers don't even allow the first 4, for obvious reasons.    
answered Mar 15, 2014 by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ revision history ]
edited Mar 28, 2014 by dimension10



+ 1 like - 0 dislike


Get rid of "Font". One doesn't need so many font choices in a Q&A site. You really can't have all users choosing their favourite font.                  

answered Mar 15, 2014 by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ revision history ]
edited Mar 28, 2014 by dimension10

Done. I removed also the font size select. OK?


+ 0 like - 0 dislike


When one clicks on the editor (for answers), and anyway, for questions and comments, the "Format" is changed to "Normal". This conveys little information on which the dropdown is for. 

Instead, the first dropdown (Styles) should be labelled "Special Styles", the second dropdown (Normal/Format) should be labelled "Level".  

answered Mar 15, 2014 by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ revision history ]
edited Mar 28, 2014 by dimension10

Done. "Special Styles" was too long, I used abbreviation. "Level" does not yet work, will come soon.

+ 1 like - 1 dislike

With both IE and Chrome, I can hover the cursor over a symbol to get a short message explaining its function. The editor does a fine job as it is.

answered Mar 16, 2014 by physicsnewbie (-20 points) [ revision history ]
edited Mar 19, 2014 by physicsnewbie

No, it is too bulky. It is also extremely difficult for new users to understand what all the symbols mean. 

@dimension10 I'm pretty thick, yet had no problems when I first used it; I just hovered the cursor over a symbol to get quick info on what it does. There's also a very nice help button.

@physicsnewbie At least on chrome/chromium, there is no hover text.     

@dimension10 For me, hover text works for both Chrome and IE. Q2A doesn't even allow me to give an answwer with Firefox.

@physicsnewbie Ah, I see, so it's a problem with chromium only. Still, a pretty major browser.  

+ 1 like - 1 dislike


Can the $\Sigma$ button please be changed to $\TeX$? It is more descriptive. 

answered Mar 19, 2014 by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ revision history ]
edited Mar 28, 2014 by dimension10
Most voted comments show all comments

I think that TeX is more intuitive. When I saw  \(\Sigma\) for the first time I though that it was a non-tex equation editor.  New users would likely write tex equation of the kind of $\alpha ^2 \sim 1/137$ if they don't see a TeX button. 

I guess that it is not possible to directly use TeX like in SE, isn't it?

Lol. I do see that it is indeed possible to directly write TeX. Why do we need that button then?

@drake there's no preview if you use enclosing $$, so you can't check until you've posted, whereas the inbuilt latex editor is WYSIWYG.

Done. The 16x16 pixel icon is very small for these characters. Can yo read \(\TeX\)?

I already can see them. Maybe the old versions are still in the cache?

@polarkernel Yes that seems to be the case. I tried a browser I haven't used on PO before, and it can be seen. Thanks! 

Oh, and the fonts removal of course. I can't see any changes for the rest at all. 

+ 0 like - 0 dislike


Please get rid of the underline button. Even on SE, there is no underline option. Nobody uses it, underlining makes the text look like a link.  

answered Apr 6, 2014 by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ revision history ]
edited Apr 12, 2014 by dimension10


+ 0 like - 0 dislike


Please get rid of the remove text formatting (Tx) button. It can't take more than a few clicks to manually remove formatting.   

answered Apr 6, 2014 by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ revision history ]
edited Apr 12, 2014 by dimension10


+ 0 like - 0 dislike


Please remove the list indentation buttons (after the unordered / bulleted list hutton and before the blockquote button). They can be done trivially with tab/shift-tab, and they look cryptic (it seems to be general indentation, but that doesn't work, and it isn't, it's list level changing) so nobody will understand them or use them.    

answered Apr 6, 2014 by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ revision history ]
edited Apr 12, 2014 by dimension10


@polarkernel Thanks!  

+ 0 like - 0 dislike


Can the icon for the button which adds the horizontal rule be changed to the text "hr"? It's more descriptive. I didn't get confused, but many may not recognise it, or think it is a template for adding a book citation, or something.  

answered Apr 12, 2014 by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ revision history ]
edited Apr 13, 2014 by dimension10

@dimension10 Done

Your answer

Please use answers only to (at least partly) answer questions. To comment, discuss, or ask for clarification, leave a comment instead.
To mask links under text, please type your text, highlight it, and click the "link" button. You can then enter your link URL.
Please consult the FAQ for as to how to format your post.
This is the answer box; if you want to write a comment instead, please use the 'add comment' button.
Live preview (may slow down editor)   Preview
Your name to display (optional):
Privacy: Your email address will only be used for sending these notifications.
Anti-spam verification:
If you are a human please identify the position of the character covered by the symbol $\varnothing$ in the following word:
Then drag the red bullet below over the corresponding character of our banner. When you drop it there, the bullet changes to green (on slow internet connections after a few seconds).
To avoid this verification in future, please log in or register.

user contributions licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required

Your rights