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Is the default 283-column text OK for human reading?   [OT]

By: Martijn Coppoolse   Homepage   Voorburg, NL  
Date: Feb 22,2019 at 04:34
In Response to: Is the default 283-column text OK for human reading? (Peter Shute)

> > The short answer is, Yes, a default 283-column text is "OK" for some
> > humans to read. It's not my preference, but I can do it. At least it
> > is within my control to reduce the window width or increase the font size
> > for my easier viewing, without interfering with however anyone else
> > choses to view it.
> What's missing is the ability to adjust the forum's reading window.
> Instead the only option is to reduce the browser width, which may not be
> ok for other tabs one has open.

One way to account for this is to ask Victor to specify the maximum width of the post text, using the CSS rule I mentioned in my reply to Slobodan.

That would mean every post would be constrained by that limit. I just tested it with Greg's post containing that very wide image; the text is still constrained to 40 ems, but the image isn’t.

Of course, it would be possible to make this a user setting, or make it adjustable on-the-fly, but that would require quite a bit of adjustments in the forum's PHP and/or Javascript code.

> I have a vague memory of an email client that inserted hard returns at
> a chosen width. This wasn't an inconvenience for others with the same
> email client because it removed them for display when recipients were
> reading them.

I seem to recall reading somewhere (it might have been RFC2822) that plain text e-mails without special encoding should be wrapped at 72 characters, but when a content-transfer-encoding is used (like quoted-printable or base64), the sending user agent should not wrap the text itself, but use the transfer-encoding’s mechanism to wrap the encoded lines. The receiving mail user agent should then decode the lines, and then wrap the original text to suit the recipient's display device. In other words, insert soft line breaks.

> On my iPhone I occasionally come across an email that's very wide, and
> has to be displayed very small, or you have to scroll across every line
> to read it. I think I've seen the same thing on Blackberries too. I'm
> not sure what triggers this.

I’ve seen this happen, too. This is often caused by a fixed-width section in an HTML e-mail. I’ve added a special style rule in Thunderbird to enable wrapping in those instances as well, and haven’t seen one in years. Gmail also re-enables wrapping by default for such cases.

> I've also seen eBooks with hard returns that cause havoc at certain
> font sizes.

Me too, though usually only in e-books automatically generated based on a PDF. Most PDFs don’t really include the concept of text blocks; it’s just separate lines. Readers ‘re-flowing’ PDFs often have to guess what belongs together based on the positioning of the different lines.


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