GoogleIt Mail IT Print IT PermaLinkRich Text Stories In Blogsphere
01:01:56 PM
Written By : Richard SchwartzCategory : Blogsphere Template
Location : Nashua, NH

I've been using "Plain Text" posting ever since I started using the Blogsphere template. This blog is still on an older version of the Blogsphere template, and I had tried using the "Rich Text" setting early on, but the formatting never seemed to come out right on the web so I gave up on it and resigned myself to doing all the HTML markup within stories by hand. When I rolled out my two new blogs I went with the latest version of Blogsphere and figured it was worth giving Rich Text another chance. After a few posts, it's become apparent that if you want your blog to look good, you still can't use Rich Text.

Here's what the latest story on my NH Primary 2008 blog looks like on the web:

Notice the line spacing -- or, I should say, the lack thereof. Now here's what it looks like in the Notes client, composed in the Blogsphere template using the Rich Text option:

Actually, that's what it originally looked like. I used a one row table with two cells. The table was set to fixed width, with the first column at 1" and the second column at 4", and there are empty lines between the paragraphs. Now, I know that Domino itself does not do the best job of rendering rich text like this into HTML. Line-spacing problems, in particular, are a major source of grief. To control that, I tried to put in some passthru HTML, but that didn't work at all. The passthru HTML just vanished. When Blogsphere saves a story, it goes through some machinations involving converting MIME parts, and I suspect that's the cause of that particular problem. But I pretty sure that whatever is going on behind the scenes in the programming of Blogpshere is causing other problems, because after saving the document looking like it did above and re-opening it, this is what it looks like:

The table is no longer fixed width and the columns are now equal size. And furthermore, in an attempt to fix the line spacing I had added multiple extra empty lines between paragraphs before saving and they all went away. It appears that there's a loss of fidelity in a round-trip MIME conversion, and that's unfortunate. I think that the conversion is being done in order to generate the RSS feed data, but I'm not clear on the details of why Blogsphere does the round-trip, though, rather than preserving the rich text. I presume there's a good reason for it, but it sure makes me wonder... do the other Domino blog templates allow rich text posting? Is the only way we're going to get really good rich text blogging from the Notes client going to be with a Midas-enabled blog template?

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Comments :v

1. Ben Langhinrichs10/15/2005 03:50:26 PM

Well, I don't know. Here is a question for you. If you were to have a Blogsphere template that worked with CoexEdit (which uses the Midas engine to render, but also allows editing from the web and later modifying from Notes) with a license that didn't cost you anything, would you use it? It would mean letting a 3rd party product into your midst.

2. Richard Schwartz10/15/2005 04:12:39 PM

@Ben: It's not so much the fact that it's a 3rd party product that would hold me back. I might use it even if it did cost me something. It's the fact that it might freeze me out of future blogsphere upgrades that would give me pause. Ideal case could be that the blogsphere template adopted Coex as a configurable option, so you can turn it on if you have the license, or leave it off if you don't.

3. Ben Langhinrichs10/16/2005 08:12:34 AM

That actually is the plan. I've thought about intergrating CoexEdit into a couple of OpenNTF templates in a configurable manner, so people who want to use them could and people who don't aren't bothered (opt-in, as opposed to opt-out). I could then provide the software and a special license to DDN, for example, and anybody else who runs their own blog server, and they could use the software for free (and get hooked on it and insist on using it at work, and soon I would rule the world. Bwee haa!)

4. Steve Castledine10/16/2005 02:13:57 PM

Myself and John Vaughan ( spent a lot of time building the Rich Text parsing into the template.

The rich text html convert is not a pretty one and required a lot of work to get an output that would work and also was web standards compliant.

I also got it to work with a web browser rich client (demo at An updated version of which will be available soon (

Theres a lot of code in the template you may want to look at.

5. Richard Schwartz10/16/2005 03:03:59 PM

@Steve: If I start any additional blogs, I'll probably take a look at your template. Probably should have done so for one of these new blogs, actually.

6. Ken Yee10/18/2005 06:29:35 PM

This is more for Ben, but I'd love to use a blogsphere template and a Midas license only for blogging. Would give me a chance and others to see how well the Midas HTML-RT roundtripping works in a real application!

7. Richard Schwartz10/18/2005 07:19:54 PM

Can we get some more "Amens!" for that thought!?

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