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Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Editing/Syntax highlighting of special characters

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Syntax highlighting of special characters

  • Problem: In the Wikipedia 2017 wikitext editor, special characters are not highlighted. This makes it difficult to distinguish between em- and en- dashes. In the previous but not officially supported editor, the em- and en- dash had either an m or n above the dash to let the editor know which one was in use. Because I cannot tell which dash is in the text, I find myself deleting the old dash and inserting the correct one to make sure the correct one is in the final copy.
While the minus special character looks slightly different than the em- or en- dash, it is hard to see on its own. The minus special character is important for articles with mathematical formulas.
  • Who would benefit: Anyone who edits Wikipedia and is concerned about the correct use of special characters, specifically the dashes.
  • Proposed solution: Some sort of syntax highlighting for special characters. How it was done before is good enough for me. Others might have a better solution—just don't make it so you have to hover the mouse pointer over it.
  • More comments:


  • "the old editor" - that was a user created editor btw, not an officially supported one. May I suggest framing the problem more generically and removing references to specific technology choices? State your problem "It is hard to distinguish/find non-visible or very similiar characters like nbsp, em-en dashes)", before discussing specific technologies. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 09:35, 30 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • No matter how one chooses to describe the problem, there are characters which cannot be easily visually distinguished. Some way to identify them would be useful. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 11:53, 30 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • You could also add non-Latin characters that are basically visually identical to latin characters (e.g., А and A, use ctrl-find, they're not the same character). GMGtalk 12:15, 30 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Side effect of this should be replacing   with e.g. colored space-like character (), so readability of source text will be better. JAn Dudík (talk) 12:40, 30 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • I have run into other editors with this problem as well. There was some desire to enter the characters as HTML entities like — which I think makes wikitext harder to read and edit, especially for novice editors. One important change that got consensus in that discussion was that on the English Wikipedia, the "insert character" widget below the edit box needs to have hover text that gives the name of each character. Otherwise it's hard to know if you are inserting an emdash, endash, hyphen, or minus. -- Beland (talk) 19:09, 4 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]