Did you notice the "scratch pad" changes on your navigation home page?

+28 votes

Hi WikiTreers,

Those of you who use the scratch pad on your Navigation Home Page will notice that it works a little differently today.

Instead of it staying as a text-editing box, what you write there becomes part of the page itself when you save it. The main benefit of this is that you can now include clickable links.

For example, I might write:

Still working on confirming parents of [[Whitten-56]]. Waiting for Keith's yDNA results to compare with other [https://www.familytreedna.com/public/whitten?iframe=ycolorized Whitten/Whidden Surname Project members].

This then becomes:

Still working on confirming parents of Whitten-56. Waiting for Keith's yDNA results to compare with other Whitten/Whidden Surname Project members.

I hope this change doesn't significantly inconvenience anyone who was using the scratch pad in a different way. If it does -- if this isn't on balance beneficial -- post here and we could consider going back. 

By the way, a few other unrelated recent changes:

1.) We added the birth and death date status qualifiers (about/before/after) to search results and descendant charts. They'll soon be added to Watchlists as well. Thank you to Debi Hoag for pointing out those were missing. 

2.) We made the free-space profile editing page a little neater and cleaner. There's also a second "save changes" button, like we've had on edit pages for person profiles for a long time.



in The Tree House by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
I don't like it, but the jury is still out.

Now I have to format the text to make it readable, and I can't do a simple copy/paste, as the special characters are now converted.

Simple plain text has its place, and it was nice to have it available.
I wasn't a scratch pad user before the change so it doesn't affect me, but in reference to your #2, the second "save changes" button....THIS I love.  It makes it so much easier.

12 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer

I finally created a work-around that I think will be an easy resolution to my concerns about the changes to the scratchpad. I created a free-space page to save code that I want to be able to copy and paste, and I linked to that page from my scratchpad, so it will be one click away from the navigation page. That page has "Open" privacy so that other contributors who want to do the same thing can see (and copy) the code if desired.


by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
selected by Pamela Lloyd
+11 votes

Hi Chris, thanks for the quick response to my "bug"...:-) For me the old way is better, because I have to scroll right down to the bottom where the scratch pad now looks like a saved [very long] profile filled with gif's and other templates just to open it in edit mode to copy / paste ... any chance of having an option for either the one way or another ...?

by Philip van der Walt G2G6 Pilot (175k points)
Hi Philip. I don't think we could offer it both ways. Little things like the scratch pad, if they're not useful in a simple form, should probably just be cut. WikiTree is too small an organization to support a lot of apps and features that aren't directly related to the tree.
Hi Chris, all my stuff stored on my Scratch Pad I use on a constant basis daily and only in relation to WikiTree. If I gave you the idea that it is not related to WikITree and full of apps and features not used here - I apologise. To the contrary.

@Louis. Thanks for the tip, but it doesn't adress my issue here. I'm not a programmer, I just want to copy / paste easy such as templates {{Dutch_Cape_Colony}} etc. No need for extensive grammar that is even more confusing.
If "small things" like a scratch pad are going to be cut, where can I store my templates etc. in text without resorting to creating even more pages? I like my Scratch Pad - where do you store your stuff Chris?
I use a plain-old text editor on my desktop PC called NoteTab. I always have it open for all sorts of notes and docs. There are lots of text editors. If you need it to be available on multiple devices you could use an online one (e.g. EverNote?).
Thanks Chris!
There are ways of hiding stuff that you only want to see in Edit mode.

For instance, if you say



templates and stuff



this will display (in red) only what's between the two pipes, ie nothing.
Horace, I'm not trying to hide stuff. I'm trying to avoid having to open edit mode countless times a day in order to work efficiently in WikiTree. I do not understand the purpose of the change of the Scratch Pad to a non-text mode [edit: the reason one would like to include links in a Scratch Pad - I use Excel for links] But there must be a reason, and if the change is unavoidable, then I'll just have to go to a solution outside of WikiTree such as Chris uses.
"Hide" in a technical sense only - suppress display of what you don't need to see.  This would shorten the box so you don't have to scroll down.

Another approach is to put eg


This will display as {{DateGuess}} and can be copy/pasted without having to go into Edit mode at all.
An option, but it while shortening the scroll it is still (in edit mode sitll only one line) it is way too complicated for me with so many characters - again - I'm not a programmer, and have no intention of learning to be one.
+6 votes
Well, that does explain yoiu have to refresh the page now to get back to Edit button.  Personally, I think the change will be net positive although it probably won't be for everyone.  I can think of at least one thing I can do which will save me clicks going to the profiles I'm working on.
by Living Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (449k points)
+5 votes
Hi Chris,

The scratch pad works like a charm , thank you!

Hi Phillip, to prevent the formatting of the equal signs and Square brackets, just use the special characters here:


for example :===Birth===

or Seen and added by [[Heyman-10|Louis Heyman]]
by Louis Heyman G2G6 Mach 9 (99.1k points)
Darn :) , works on the first save, but on the second save it has converted the characters LOL
I find that having to escape special characters becomes quite tedious and difficult, and I have to keep looking them up.
I love my Scratch pad. The special characters are not changing back.

For links I just replace tthe first square bracket to prevent formatting. My Scratchpad looks just the way I like it Thanks.
+9 votes
Sadly it will cause problems for me with the new way. I used to store the very few templates I used on there to just copy and paste into the profile I am editing as needed  and with the new changes I can no longer do that. I know that there are other ways to do that but they will be more work and less productive for my uses.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
+10 votes

I use this scratch pad area to save source links and Category formating, among other stuff, that I can quickly copy/paste into profiles.  Now, that's all formatted and useless.

I can go back to the old way by putting it in Edit mode but that's pretty silly.

I repeat:  BRING BACK THE OLD!!!!
by Bob Jewett G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
I agree with Dale and Bob. I use the note pad the same way they do and don't think the new version is an improvement.
+5 votes
A comment for folks that want stuff that they can link to and such ... put that in your profile Biography section ... good heavens, you should see mine!! ... http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Jewett-369
by Bob Jewett G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+6 votes
Ideally, if you don't like the new version, it should be possible to emulate the old one by adding

{{scroll box|<nowiki>

at the top and


at the bottom.

And you'd still have the new facility of creating links, above or below the box.

Only it doesn't work.  We don't seem to have the Scroll box template in this version, though it's easy enough to create one.

The real snag is that the < > get converted to &lt; &gt; on saving.  MediaWiki is a right pain sometimes.

Actually I don't think we need any Save processing at all.
by Living Horace G2G6 Pilot (649k points)
+10 votes

When I first read this message, I thought I was going to like the change, but now that I've fooled with it, I don't like it.

Much like Dale Byers, one of my main uses for the scratchpad was as a ready-reference list of hard-to-remember templates that I frequently want to transclude into profiles. My other main use is as a reference list of URLs for unadvertised WikiTree pages like the category watchlist. The new format improves the page's usefulness as a reference list for URLs, since formerly I could only copy the URLs and paste them, but now I can either click on a link or copy the URL. However, the new format makes the scratch pad almost useless as a reference list for templates. Instead of seeing code that I could copy to generate a template, I now see the whole (sometimes LARGE and UGLY) template that the code generates, and now I have to open  the scratch pad in edit mode to see the template code. I tried inserting wikicode format codes to see if they would prevent the interpretation of the template coding (I tried the paired codes <nowiki></nowiki>, <tt></tt> and <code></code>), but that doesn't work.

I recognize that I could create a scratchpad file on my own computer to store WikiTree template codes, but I prefer to have them on the WikiTree site because that makes them available on any computing device I am using and because I only use them at WikiTree.

As Bob Jewett has noted, there are other places on WikiTree where a user can store useful URLs, but the scratchpad has been the only place where a user can store their own collection of useful template codes.

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
edited by Ellen Smith
In full agreement Ellen!

Another crude trick is something like


Then you copy/paste it (without having to go into Edit mode) and delete the #.


I don't need to save code for simple templates like Unsourced and DateGuess -- and I could find the coding for them by looking on the edit page for any profile that displays them. It's more complex templates like ((New Netherland Merge Compare|signature=~~~~)) (bracket style changed to allow display) that I want to be able to quickly copy, and the scratchpad was the easiest place to store them. And I can't copy the code for that template off profiles that display it, because the template generates custom coding on the pages where it is displayed.
Hi Ellen

Until it is more user friendly, use this

Seen and added by &#091;&#091;Heyman-10|Louis Heyman&#093;&#093; ~~~~~</ref>

or this

&#123;&#123;Unsourced|South Africa&#125;&#125;
Come to think of it, one will do, eg

& #123;{Unsourced|South Africa}}
Hi Horace,

True, but I saw changes in how other code snippets are interpreted which indicates that the developers are working on it, as such I didn't want to give something which might stop working in the short term.
+5 votes
So, why hasn't this been reverted back to what it was?  All of the comments/anwers, save one, have been negative.  Right now it's taking me twice as long to do a new profile as it did last week.  I'm about ready to shut down and quit doing anything ... I have better things to do with my time ...
by Bob Jewett G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Feeling your frustration Bob, but there is a lot happening that we do not know about and though I too cannot fathom the motive behind the change, I trust Chris will do the right thing for WikiTree come the right moment. Right now perhaps he is busy with more pressing matters.
Thanks Philip ... yeah I know that, was just getting frustrated.  I'll go sit in the corner for a while ... lol
I find walking in the park or tending my garden balcony helps when I get too frustrated with WikiTree ... :-)
Thank you, Philip.

I don't think we will switch back. It is disappointing that the change has negatively effected so many members, but if we switch back now we will negatively affect other members.

I just noticed this post from Ros which may help those who are missing the old scratch pad: http://www.wikitree.com/g2g/253273/have-you-heard-of-clipboard-managers
Thanks Chris!
Well, ghee ... thanks for thinking about the folks that changed things over the last month and completely ignore folks that have been using the scratch pad area as a copy paste resource for 4 or 5 years ... think I'll make a Wikitree category ... Second Class Citizens ... I think I qualify ... I'm not happy!
+7 votes
One thing that's slightly confusing is that every time you save, you leave edit mode and have to go back into it to do more edits.  This is different from profiles etc, where you stay in edit mode and carry on.
by Living Horace G2G6 Pilot (649k points)
+7 votes
The other thing that has me flummoxed.

If I load the NHP and go into edit mode, the <> appear as <>.  But if I save, and go back into edit mode, they now appear as &lt; &gt;.

But if I load the page in another tab, I get <> again.  So I've now got two side-by-side views of what should be the same data, and they're different.

And the only difference is that I've gone into edit mode twice in one tab, but only once in the other.
by Living Horace G2G6 Pilot (649k points)

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