Updated “Format” feature

For many years FastMail has had a powerful “Format” feature on the compose screen. This feature attempts to intelligently reformat and reflow test, quoted text, lists, etc. It’s based on the well known module Text::Autoformat by Damian Conway.


Unfortunately a few months back, a serious issue was discovered that caused certain data to be changed, in particular, a set of times was interpreted as a list that needed renumbering so:

7:30 – Catch flight
9:30 – Arrive at conference


7:30 – Catch flight
8:30 – Arrive at conference

To avoid this, we turned off the list processing mode of the Format function, but unfortunately this disabled all list processing, so obviously lists like:

* Get milk
* Walk the dog
* Buy the paper

Would be turned into the single line:

* Get milk * Walk the dog * Buy the paper

After a bit of work, and some discussion with Damian, we have now installed a new version of Text::Autoformat that:

  • Will correctly detect numbered, bulleted and lettered lists and format them
  • Will not attempt to renumber numbered lists to ensure there is no data corruption
  • Fixes a number of other small bugs (certain lettered lists)

This has been rolled out to all servers.

Posted in Technical. Comments Off on Updated “Format” feature

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