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Non-reusable text box content

Tobias Zeuch's profile picture
Posts: 101

16 April 2014, 0:48


we have a lot of complaints about the reusability of textboxes: people miss the hint about copied text boxes after copying a page and accidently overwrite the content of the original page. 

Also the huge number on notes that you can copy from makes it difficult to find the content you want to copy, so it seems easier to just open the original view and copy the text over manually. And frankly, I think hardly any of our users even knows about this possibility. 

I see the idea behind regarding notes as artefacts that are displayed via a textbox as a blocktype but at least in our installations, text boxes are hardly used as such but rather as an introduction to a the page or connection between other blocks. 

I found this old discussion about text boxes where the idea came up to add an option to text boxes rendering them as non-reusable. I actually see that as the default, with an option to "store the content as an artefact" but on the other hand promote the functionality to display a note artefact. And for completion I think that the note section under content should have a button to add a note without adding the textbox block first. 

Any opinion on that? How are your experiences with copied text boxes? Would you rather support a plain text-box as a separate block type (probably like it was before mahara 1.5)? 



anonymous profile picture
Account deleted
Posts: 131

17 April 2014, 3:07

Hi Tobias,

We've also had complaints from people who's content has been overwritten after choosing to copy a textbox. I changed the text to explain that this would happen, to prevent future problems.

Adding an option to 'make this textbox reusable' which is off by default is probably a good idea.

The list of text boxes is not easy to manage, especially where a title hasn't been added - I think is part of another issue which is that Mahara is lacking batch editing options in all the lists - pages, groups, etc. It would be very useful to have checkboxes next to all entries in such lists and options to process the selected items as a batch.

Best wishes,


Tobias Zeuch's profile picture
Posts: 101

22 April 2014, 19:33

Hi Mike,

thanks for commenting and confirming the issue. 

I'm not sure though on where exactly you see the relation with the missing batch editing option. What action would you like to be able to process on a set of checkboxes in the current setup? Or were you imagining a batch option to change the copyable-state of check boxes in a batch like manner once the non-copyable textbox version is available? 



Tobias Zeuch's profile picture
Posts: 101

24 April 2014, 0:05

I'll post a mockup for the configuration interface. Any thoughts about the idea to use the tab-layout for switching between the plain mode and the reusable one? It's not really the most obvios functionality of tabs, but it's way more prominent than a tiny link at the bottom. Changing the tab would reveal the [Use content from another text box] link and a different description, obviously. 

Aaron Wells's profile picture
Posts: 896

30 April 2014, 16:18

Hi guys! Sorry for chiming in a week late on this. I've been out of the office a lot over the past couple of weeks.

I actually filed a wishlist bug about this same issue last year, but haven't had the opportunity to implement it yet:

My idea for the interface, was to actually split the functionality into two block types -- Text (non re-usable) and Note (re-usable). And sort of promote Notes into more of a "first-class" artefact type like the other ones, and actually support creation, editing, and deletion of Notes on the Content->Notes page. Also, perhaps remove the file attachment functionality from the Text block, and leave it on the Note block.

So this way, you have a simple, easy-to-use Text block, and a more heavy-duty Note block specifically for pieces of text that you're likely to reuse.

Or do you think having two separate blocks would be confusing to users?



Tobias Zeuch's profile picture
Posts: 101

01 May 2014, 7:15

First, I just realized that the link I provided in the first post doesn't point to what I was talking about, so here is the correct link:

I had found neither Aarons launchpad bug nor the discussion in the support forum, linked from the launchpad description. Actually, creating a separate plain text box was my first idea but then i found out that this existed before and what was changed with version 1.5, so I concluded that you wouldn't want to step back to the plain text box again.

As to Aarons suggestion: I totally support the promotion of notes to real artefacts (actually, you can already edit and delete notes from the content area, just the creation is still missing). I think, the fact that notes are the only artefact (that I can think of right now) that can be edited from the porfolio view, is part of the problem because it doesn't feel like displaying an artefact. So maybe even go one step further and have the note block only choose and display an note from the artefacts? Or maybe start with offering to select a note and only display the text area after clicking something like "Create new note here"?

Anyways, if there are two blocks, they should be noticeably different, not only by the icon. I'm undecied on which is less confusing. I think with a single interface you have more words to distinguish between the two concepts, like in the mockup. On the other hand, the block element should call the attention of both, someone who wants to add plain text to a page and someone who wants to display a note. So from that point of view, the two block types sound more appropriate.

Sorry, if this got a bit confusing, I concluded an internal argument on the point, but maybe we can discuss the topic tomorrow.



Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 4027

02 June 2014, 21:44

Hello Tobias,

Back in the day we implemented notes instead of non-reusable text boxes because users wanted to be able to re-use them. At the time, there was no need to not be able to re-use them. However, with more use now, it seems that not everybody wants to keep all text boxes around. :-) Thus, being able to do both would be good.

I would leave the possibility to add notes (as compared to text snippets) directly on the page as people do want to be able to create content directly on the page and not always having to go to the Content tab. That's why you can upload files directly onto a page or also create a new journal entry on the page (or at least click a button that opens the appropriate place in Mahara).




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