Wiki Life: Optimised Authoring against Bugs


There are currently a few aspects of the Wiki platform which an author is best planning to work around.  This post is a reminder for the experienced and an advanced set of guidelines for the new user.

Future Change

There is a future platform change which will make most all of this advice obsolete. So stay tuned for updates!

Loss of Edits

This is a recent and intermittent bug.

You click that save button and instead of a recoverable fail you might eventually see an error rather than your updates saved.  Your changes are likely to have been lost unless you took these steps.   The server team may have addressed this – but intermittent issues are notoriously difficult to test and fix. And they might come back. So it's best to follow these steps if you see the server issues occurring.

The safest approach is if your primary source is separate from the wiki. This isn’t a bad idea whether there are problems or not.

Write your article in an HTML editor ( WordPress, Visual Studio, Expression Web, Live Writer, or whichever you prefer ).

Proof read your output.

( I always forget that part ).

Paste into the wiki. (If you're having trouble pasting from the editor into the Wiki editor, try pasting the HTML into the HTML tab instead). Note that this is a reason why we recommend that you use an HTML editor. You won't get as good of output if you're pasting from a word processing app.

Save.

Then edit the Wiki article to take a pass through and insert your code.

If you prefer to work in the wiki editor, then before you save, back up your changes:

Click the HTML tab, click in the center.  Ctrl+A to select all, Crtl+C to copy.

Open up a new empty notepad document.

Ctrl+V to paste in your entire article.

Then if you get an error on saving you can edit again and paste everything back in. (If you're super lazy, you can Ctrl+A and Ctrl+C the page, try saving, wait, and if you lose the save, just paste it in and try again. But you have to not get distracted and copy something else over it, so it's recommended that you paste it in a Notepad document.)

 

NOTE: Our migration to a new platform this year is anticipated to fix this issue.

 

Do NOT Use Internet Explorer

There is a bug which will replicate break tags in your HTML many times if you use Internet Explorer. (Meaning that it adds white space lines between your text. If you ever see these line spaces on articles, this is why.)

There are also issues with Galleries editing (on MSDN/TechNet Galleries, separate from TechNet Wiki).

Chrome works fine for both (and Firefox, Safari, and Opera).

If you forget and edit in IE, leaving an article full of breaks then you have two choices.  Technically, you have more choices, but these are the positive and recommended ones.

1. Revert your changes.

Or

2. If you made  a lot of edits then losing your work might not be terribly attractive (you'd have to start over).

OPTION A: Obtain the HTML ( see above ) and remove all break tags in notepad using edit replace.

Paste back in.

Check how it looks in the design tab before saving again.

OPTION B: Edit the same article in a different browser. Using that browser, manually remove the line breaks in the Wiki Editor. If it's a shorter article, this is super fast.

 

NOTE: This bug is expected to be fixed 100% when we migrate to the new platform this year.

  

Slow Insertion of Images

When you choose a picture and click the button to insert it, the process often takes a considerable time.  The first time you do this you will probably think something went wrong.  The temptation is to try again before one save has really finished.

In Chrome there is a little grey notification in the bottom left of the window which says it’s still working.  Don't do anything else until that disappears.

It’s best to just leave it alone and give it some time.

 

NOTE: When we migrate to the new platform, we'll need to check the performance of image insertions. We anticipate a big improvement.

  

Repeated Save Failure

Rather less dramatic than loss of data is the simple graceful fail to save.

It can often take 5 times or so and sometimes a lot more to successfully save changes.  You click save, it works for a while. Then you notice it’s still in edit mode. The page has refreshed (often when you left to go to another tab or window), but the changes were not saved. You'll usually see the same edit comment text you typed in as well (if you typed any in). And your edits are the same. You did not lose your edits (even though the page refreshed a bit).

Unless you see the article in it’s usual read mode, your edits have failed.

Just keep on trying and click the Save button again. It helps if you have a strong Internet connection, but…

This is a known server bug.

 

NOTE: The cause is the same as losing the edits altogether (similar server issues). We anticipate this bug will be fixed when we migrate to the new platform.

Comments (12)

  1. Andy ONeill says:

    Cheers guys.
    I hit the losing updates bug 6 times in a row on one set of edits. After the third one I had learnt my lession and cut and pasted into notepad.
    I’ll be doing this every time.
    I like to put it into notepad because I can see it and there’s no chance I lose my work.
    Saves frequently take a while and it’s all too easy to start doing something else and suddenly realise you clipboarded a word or url or something without thinking. Gone. D’oh!!!

  2. Andy ONeill says:

    You’re best not using IE at all though.
    The many line breaks bug is a deal breaker in my opinion.

  3. I haven’t hit the losing updates bug for a long while. Today I ran into the Save Failure bug.

  4. Very well written and definitely helpful post around the issues that we normally encounter on Wiki.

    Incredible piece of work !!!

  5. pituach says:

    Great post, Thanks, Andy

    There is another bug regarding Code block. In IE when you edit the article the code block might lose all the CSS style in the article HTML code.

  6. I even do the copy/paste thing for comments on Wiki and blogs. I don’t trust the Internets on any site! So a simple Ctrl+A and Ctrl+C (like I’m doing for this comment) will protect you if the Internet fails! But it won’t protect you if you accidentally
    copy something else and wipe out your "save". That’s why Andy mentioned the "paste into NotePad" trick. I’ll do that if I’m writing faster on more pages than the Internet wants me to. =^)

  7. Saeid Hasani says:

    This is really helpful!
    Thanks Andy for sharing! 🙂

  8. This is incredibly helpful! Thanks, Andy, for getting it all in one place!

  9. Actually, IE 9 does not have the line break bug. I have kept it for this purpose. However, it can mess up the colors, which might be what pituach refers to. That is the only bug I have found using IE 9.

  10. Andy ONeill says:

    And thanks again for the positive response.

  11. I believe this was Andy’s first blog post. Right?

    Thanks!

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