Radio: No escaping the quotation mark issue

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Blogging
February 27th, 2003 • 10:34 pm

After I published my blog item on outstanding issues with Radio UserLand the other day, I got feedback indicating that it was possible to use the quotation mark symbol (“) in item titles, as long as you “escaped” it by inserting a backslash () before each occurrence of it (which is supposed to tell the Radio engine that it is indeed a quotation mark used in the text of the title, and not an argument delimiter or whatever it’s used for in Radio’s underlying engine).

At first, I thought this “escaping” did indeed work. When I tried to use it today, however (in the previous item on “Search Results” windows in Mac OS X), I got all kinds of strange problems. First the “escape” character (i.e. the backslash) would appear in the title in the “Previous posts” list. Then editing the item would fail to reproduce the title properly in the Title field in the editor, forcing me to retype the title. Then I noticed that NetNewsWire failed to interpret the escape character properly and displayed it in full in my item title (along with the quotation mark character, which NetNewsWire doesn’t seem to have any problems with, contrary to Radio).

That’s all a bit too much. I’m switching back to using the single quotation mark character (‘) for now.

I don’t know what the problem actually is, but it’s a bit sad that, today, in 2003, we still have to deal with such ancient issues. (This quotation mark issue has been around ever since computer languages started using the quotation mark as a delimiter for arguments in their instructions.) Of course, things would probably be OK if I was able to use curly quotes instead (which are different characters with different character codes, thus avoiding the confusion). But, as explained in my “Curly quotes” item yesterday, this is not a practical solution at this point in time either.

It’s all kind of distressing when one of the most fundamental purposes of Radio and other blogging tools is to put more web publishing power in the hands of writers who are not geeks. If you can’t even use something as common as the quotation mark freely, how can you expect that these tools are going to attract non-geeks to web publishing?

I just know that, even though I’m now aware of the issue, I will forget it again and again, and will have to go back and edit my item titles again and again because of this. Annoying, to say the least.

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