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Feature Proposal: Add preference value to customize the new-wikiword link


It is too difficult to click on the question mark ? attached to non-existing WikiWords.

Description and Documentation

Three reasons:

(1) Other wikis allow to click on the new WikiWord itself to create it which is alot more user-friendly than trying to hit the little ?.

(2) The question mark distracts reading the text ("why questioning MyNewWikiWord$linksymbol").

(3) The superscript disturbs the text layout, i.e. its line-height. Lines with non-existing WikiWords are higher than others.

Currently the only possibility to customize the new-wikiword link is to change the css for twikiNewLink (a span surrounding the name of the new topic and the questionmark link) and to set NEWTOPICLINKSYMBOL which defaults to <sup>?</sup>.

I'd propose to introduce a new preference variable NEWLINKFORMAT that still allows to provide a backwards compatible default producing the same link look&feel as before but have more.


Backwards compatible:

   * Set NEWLINKFORMAT  =  <span class="twikiNewLink">$text<a href="%SCRIPTURLPATH{"edit"}%/$web/$topic" rel="nofollow" title="%MAKETEXT{"Create this topic"}%">$linksymbol</a></span>
   * Set NEWTOPICLINKSYMBOL = <sup>?</sup>

which renders SomeNewTopic?


  * Set NEWLINKFORMAT = <a  class="twikiNewLink" href="%SCRIPTURLPATH{"edit"}%/$web/$topic" rel="nofollow" title="%MAKETEXT{"Create this topic"}%">$text</a>

which renders SomeNewTopic

Note, that there are some style changes needed to pattern

<style type="text/css">
a.twikiNewLink {
a.twikiNewLink:hover {

Impact and Available Solutions

WhatDoesItAffect: Rendering
HaveQuickFixFor: latestTWikiAlphaRelease


Here is the patch.

This infact provides greater flexibility and reduces code complexity, i.e. TWiki::Render::_renderNonExistingWikiWord as it is 11 lines only now.

The NEWLINKFORMAT can contain the following variables:

  • $web: the web where the new topic is to be created in
  • $topic: the name of the new topic
  • $text: the link text
  • $linksymbol: the NEWTOPICLINKSYMBOL for backwards compatibility

-- Contributors: MichaelDaum


-- MichaelDaum - 05 Oct 2006

Nice enhancement, that is a WhatIsIn04x01 candidate.

-- PeterThoeny - 05 Oct 2006

How about changing the default to show a red link like MediaWiki? This keeps the flow of reading, it is also familiar to the large Wikipedia group. All docs need to be updated to reflect that (WikiWord, tutorials etc.)

-- PeterThoeny - 05 Oct 2006

Nice enhancement. The gray color looks like a "visited" link in pattern; the red Wikipedia style link color looks like an error message.

Sed ut perspiciatis, unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam eaque ipsa, quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae SomeLink vitae dicta sunt, explicabo. nemo enim ipsam voluptatem, quia voluptas sit, aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos, qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt, neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum, quia dolor sit, amet, consectetur, adipisci velit.

-- ArthurClemens - 05 Oct 2006

How about UnknownWord vs. KnownWord

-- MichaelDaum - 05 Oct 2006

Would be possible, but normal links currently do not have a bottom border, just an underline. So it would become: UnknownWord vs. KnownWord

-- ArthurClemens - 05 Oct 2006

UnknownWord, WikiWordLink, and VisitedTopic looks reasonable to me.

-- PeterThoeny - 05 Oct 2006

My experience from Wikipedia is that I often find myself clicking on links to topics that do not exist.

Will a normal user who just passes by to READ the pages and knows nothing about TWiki actually know the difference between a red underlined link or a gray underlined link? It may look nicer this way but does it actually function well in practice with occational users?

I think the small ?-mark works well. It signals much better that this is a potential link and not an existing link.

Michael describes the ?-mark as superscript. It is not in PatternSkin. I think it works well in PatternSkin with a light gray underline that you hardly see and the little box to the right of the WikiWord with the ?-mark inside at the same height as the rest of the text. I find no problem with clicking on it with the mouse. Is the superscript a NatSkin or ClassicSkin problem?

I will not argue against this feature - but be careful with how the occational or first time users experience the use if you change this.

-- KennethLavrsen - 05 Oct 2006

Ah, and we have to remember the visually impaired...

-- ArthurClemens - 05 Oct 2006

Kenneth, the <>sup>?</sup> is the hardcoded default for NEWTOPICLINKSYMBOL. See the code. Note, that the proposal above allows to configure every new-wikiword concept you like. So we only have to agree on a reasonable default. Before making any decision, test it first ("girl friend test").

The blue vs red bottom bar for different links may be a problem to be recognized properly. I need to see a larger page with several of them mixed up. The other problem with using a css bottom-bar property is that it is too far away from the text it is about to underline, imho, getting too close to the top of the next line. The normal text-decoration:underline is much better as it is a real underline. Having both styles of underlining words will be very odd on a page mixing known and unknown words as for the user there's no obvious reason why both ways of underlining a WikiWord must be so different (I can already hear them saying "oh look the underline is too far away from the word"). In such cases I'd opt for using a small background image repeating on the x-axis that you can position as close to the text as needed

a {
a.twikiNewLink {

-- MichaelDaum - 06 Oct 2006

As I said above - I am not at all arguing against the feature. I was only commenting on how you would use it in practical. I support the feature of making it flexible as long as I can keep the current implementation and the proposal is nicely made so that I can do that.

-- KennethLavrsen - 06 Oct 2006

Awesome feature smile

I say keep the default. It's practical and straightforward. For a normal user at least.

It may be better if the style follows ArthurClemens$linksymbol' example with a ? at the end, all in one box.

-- KwangErnLiew - 06 Oct 2006

Alright. Then let's keep the current scheme and css.

-- MichaelDaum - 06 Oct 2006

Accepted at EdinburghReleaseMeeting2006x10x16 with current layout as default.

-- KennethLavrsen - 16 Oct 2006


-- MichaelDaum - 20 Oct 2006

Btw. NEWTOPICBGCOLOR and NEWTOPICFGCOLOR are still there but never used. I'd opt to remove them to simplify configuration. Bugs:Item3038

-- MichaelDaum - 20 Oct 2006

They are used still in TWiki/Render.pm, possibly for other skins such as classic?

-- PeterThoeny - 21 Oct 2006

Topic attachments
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Unknown file formatdiff Render_pm.diff r2 r1 manage 3.2 K 2006-10-05 - 14:15 UnknownUser  
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Topic revision: r16 - 2006-10-21 - PeterThoeny
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