My institution recently switched to the latest version of Blackboard (version 9, I assume). For six weeks I've experienced major frustration with the formatting in Bb messages.
Specifically: How do I get a blank line to show up between paragraphs in a Bb message I'm creating? I can hit the enter key a couple times (as you would in most email systems) and the blank line will show up while I'm drafting the message. However, when I send the message, Bb eliminates the blank lines and I end up with all the paragraphs following right on top of each other -- i.e., no spaces at all between paragraphs. That's what my students see, and that's what I see in every one of their messages as well.
This makes for tough reading over the course of a week, and it looks pretty sloppy too. Is there any simple way for me to fix this, or could Blackboard work on fixing this as a default setting for messages? Thanks for any advice.
The same problem exists in the Contacts tool. There is no way to handcode paragraph tags or line breaks, either.
Can you clarify exactly which tool you're using? When I create a message using the Messages tool, I get the same WYSIWYG text editor that I get when creating content items and other text. Entering text in that, I get a line break if I enter a return, and two line breaks (an empty line) if I enter two returns. On my server, it displays that way in both content items and messages. I can also toggle into HTML mode with the <> icon in the toolbar if I want to directly enter HTML code.
Which section of the Contacts tool are you trying to enter line breaks and paragraphs? The editor in that section is much more basic, but I can manually include HTML tags for line break and paragraph in the Notes area (for instance) and they are saved and included/rendered when the contact is displayed. Now, the paragraph tag doesn't leave as much space between lines as I'm used to seeing, but there is a lot of CSS in Learn and I suspect one of the stylesheets is specifying the formatting of that tag.
I often type up information in Word and copy and paste the information into Blackboard. These seems to hold line breaks effectively.
Yes, the tags do work only in the Notes area of Contacts. The tags themselves show up in the Office Location and Office Hours sections. For these areas, I'm resorting to using slashes to provide some visual division.
In Contacts (build 9.1.482.2), I'm not seeing the Office Location or Office Hours fields being displayed at all once I get out of the Edit screen...that seems like a bug, though I don't see any mention of it in the KB.
The Office Hours field does not show until you place something in the Office Location field, why, I don't know, but that's what I found.
Mike, thanks for your reply. I'm using the Messages tool. Unfortunately, my experience with regard to WYSIWYG is the opposite of yours. No matter how good (i.e., correctly spaced) the lines appear while drafting the message, the blank lines inevitable disappear once I click submit. The resulting message has one paragraph following upon the other, with not a single blank line showing up. This is the case whether I've hit enter once, twice, or even three or four times between paragraphs.
As far as HTML coding goes, I used to mess with HTML a decade ago when I first set up my website. I'm glad to hear the HTML route works for you in Bb Messages. However, I'm looking for a more efficient way to create readable, correctly spaced messaged messages without having to go in and do HTML surgery every time I type a message to a student. If just about every email program out there seems to be able to handle blank lines correctly, I don't see why Bb can't be expected to do likewise--and with a high degree of consistency. It sounds like many(?) other people also are having the problem I've described. Is this something Bb designers are working on?
Mike, I do appreciate your feedback, notwithstanding the different results we're getting.
That's odd that we're seeing such different behavior with the visual editor. Just to confirm, your school is using Blackboard 9.1, right?
I'm playing around with a few different things to check the formatting behavior. Are you using Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari?
I notice that in Firefox, "enter" gets converted to a line break tag, while in Internet Explorer, it gets converted to a paragraph tag. Multiple/extra paragraph tags are removed when the text is submitted, but multiple line break tags are not. I also notice that--due to the CSS formatting in BB 9.1, I think--paragraph tags display more like a 1-1/2 spaces between lines, not double spaces. As a result, two "enter"s in Firefox gives you double-spacing, while two (or one, or three) "enter"s in IE ends up looking line 1-1/2 spacing.
So, if you are using IE, you can't add extra spaces between paragraphs by hitting enter multiple times. What's more, if you manually enter returns at the end of a line when composing your text rather than allowing the lines to wrap automatically, there's no way to distinguish between a line break and a paragraph break. (The paragraph break is more obvious if you all the editor to do automatic line wrapping.)
Hopefully that clarifies things a little bit.
Mike -- You're right on the money regarding Firefox providing a WYSIWYG experience. Just tried it in Firefox and got exactly the good result you mentioned. Thanks! I'll switch over to Firefox. That does make a difference. (I've mostly been using the Chrome browser when in Bb, and occasionally IE, and only rarely Firefox, though I have all three browsers on my desktop. I'll just get in the habit of using Firefox for Bb and my problem will be solved.)
Thanks for your help here. It hadn't occurred to me that it might well be a browser issue. I appreciate the solution!
I normally use Firefox, but I try to check things out with IE as well. I was certainly surprised to see the visual editor generating different tags from the same keystroke depending on the browser!
I have the same problem with line brakes in the text editor showing but not in the text after submitting or in preview mode. I agree, fixing it in the source code every time is not an efficient option. Importing from Word seems to work better, but I'm not sure whether it is consistent. I first encountered the problem when I tried to add an announcement. It seems that this problem is new, since it didn't happen earlier when I set up course materials. We did not get WYSIWYG results with Firefox.
Thanks for any help or EASY work around.
Can you describe in a little more detail what problem it is that you're seeing, and what web browser you're using?
Sure, I use IE 8 with Windows 9 or the newest Firefox. I just can't get line brakes to "stick". This is what it looks like in preview or after submitting versus text editor: paragraph_space.png.aspx
I uploaded a png file to the file folder. I'm not sure whether this will work for you.
Even if I add an additional paragraph tag in the source code, it will not work. I have been able to take formatted text from Word into the text editor and after some wrangling I got it to look OK.
PS: We also see a jumbled/randomized arrangement of the color swatches for highlighting and text color. In case you're interested...
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