Mail 3.0: Still suffers from basic text editing flaws

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Mail
February 6th, 2008 • 2:43 pm

While the new Mail version included with Leopard comes with a number of improvements and more or less desirable new features, I am afraid it still suffers from some pretty basic flaws in the most mundane of tasks, such as editing quoted text when composing a reply.

Here is a screen shot of the left-hand side of a reply that I was composing yesterday, with several levels of quoted text. As is often the case in such a situation, there was some text with a higher quote level that I wanted to delete because it was no longer relevant to the discussion. So I selected the entire quoted text:

Level 3 quoted text

And then I pressed Delete:

After deleting level 3 quoted text

Notice anything? The first line of the next paragraph of quoted text that comes after the portion that has just been deleted now has a different quote level, which is 3 (three bars, brown text) instead of 2 (two bars, green text).

This is simply wrong. Deleting a certain portion of my message should have absolutely no impact on the rest of the message. Yet obviously it does, as this example shows. And the only way to fix this is to manually change the quote level for the first line of the paragraph, which is a bit of a pain.

As far as I can tell, this only occurs with 3 levels of quoting. With only 2 levels, I cannot reproduce the problem. Maybe no one at Apple ever has lengthy discussions involving more than 2 levels of quoting.

As well, maybe it only occurs when composing plain text messages, and Apple only properly tests its text composing engine in rich text.

Whatever the reasons are, clearly Apple is not paying enough attention to text editing issues in Mail. This particular problem is not an isolated occurrence. I am afraid that there is a number of other text editing issues in the same vein, usually involving quote levels that are not properly handled when deleting or adding text in a reply. It is too painful to document them all in detail, but you can be sure that, each time I find an easily reproducible scenario for a text editing issue in Mail, a bug report gets submitted to Apple.

Whether they’ll ever do anything about it is, of course, another matter. Certainly if the recent past is any indication, we shouldn’t raise our hopes too high.

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