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How can code formatting be made more intuitive for newcomers?

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Jan
Jan on 27 Jul 2011
We suggest to apply a proper code formatting 10 times per day. Not formatted is nearly unreadable and it is actually not hard to apply it - if you know how.
How can the interface be improved to let newcomers comprehend the formatting style directly and intuitively?
  2 Comments
Jan
Jan on 15 Nov 2011
Bump.
It would save a lot of time for the editors, and increase the quality of a noticable part of the questions, if the code formatting is made easier. Beginners seem to be overstrained by the "{} Code" button and something seems to impede, that they read the formatting instructions.

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Accepted Answer

Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 30 Jul 2011
I'd like to see that too. I post code all the time and I hate it that when the code has a blank line in there (to separate distinct sections of code) that I have to highlight each and every section and click the code icon. What a pain!
  2 Comments
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 30 Jul 2011
What I'd like to see too is "code formatting be made more intuitive."

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More Answers (4)

Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 27 Jul 2011
If "code" mode were made the default, with a way to switch to paragraph mode (that supported character-level markup) then there might be less problem, perhaps.
  5 Comments
Jan
Jan on 30 Jul 2011
@Jiang: Exactly - *all* formatting is too rarely used, because it seems to be too complicated.
A graphic can be embedded by using << and >> around the link. See my own answer.

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Jan
Jan on 30 Jul 2011
What about a more pushy design?
Original:
New - exaggerated:
  1 Comment
Jan
Jan on 30 Jul 2011
Or a text description:
"Matlab code has two leading spaces"
"Include links in < and >"
"Include URLs to graphics in << and >>"
"Enumerations start with #"
"Lists start with *"

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Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 30 Jul 2011
Walter, here is what you get if you paste in 5 lines of code with the third line of code being a blank line between the 2nd and 4th line of code, and then highlight all 5 lines and click the "code" icon. In the "markup" box my clc is on a separate line below this, while in the Preview box it's on the same line and not formatted as code even though I highlighted all 5 lines and clicked the code icon: clc; close all;
workspace;
clear;
  2 Comments
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 30 Jul 2011
OK that works, as long as you have the blank line first and start right before the first character of the code (unlike using control R and control T in MATLAB to comment/uncomment code where it will act upon the whole line.) Thanks.

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Daniel Shub
Daniel Shub on 15 Nov 2011
Maybe the question is wrong. I think a better question is why is unformatted code so unreadable? I cannot believe that there isn't a better comprise between the readability of text and the readability of code without any need to apply formatting. Sure this might mean that getting optimal formatting is harder (e.g., you might need to mark all paragraphs as either text or code). I would take this added inconvenience if it means the default (i.e., unformatted) is readable for both code and text.

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