Basecamp Writeboard & Message Erratic Formatting

If you rely heavily on Basecamp, a project management service by 37signals, then you’ve probably run into issues with erratic formatting in Writeboards and Messages. The contextual documentation is sparse at best and doesn’t explain how to stop the unintended formatting caused by the inadvertent use of reserved sequences.

Through a little experimentation, it seems that most HTML tags are left unencoded. While unexpected and also potentially problematic this behavior has it benefits. The <code> and <pre> tags – and possibly more – turn off the Basecamp formatting engine and make it possible to preserve text that would otherwise be mis-formatted.

So next time you notice strange formatting, try surrounding your text in either <code> and <pre> tags. Remember that while these tags won’t show up in the message itself, they will appear in any notification e-mail, but the same is true for standard Basecamp formatting.

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