en/em dash substitution

It seems that in HTML mode, the mail editor ought to do the usual character substitutions (as in Outlook) for substituting an en or em dash for a double dash, smart quotes, etc.  It doesn’t do this, I can’t see any way to configure that, and I can’t see any way to define a keyboard shortcut to insert such characters.  I believe that Outlook uses the Word capabilities to accomplish this, but the techniques and algorithms are well known, and there at least ought to be a way to work around it with shortcuts.  Without that, HTML mode in EmClient isn’t really a fully implemented HTML mode.  Am I missing something?

I prefer to use EM and EN dashes when I can, but few programs have a substitution feature. So I found an extremely useful macro program called ShortKeys. It isn’t terribly expensive and works great. It allows me to enter “—” and “–” very easily (along with accented characters such as “ä” and é". Or symbols such as TM … or even often-used text sequences like “eM Client”. No more having to use the ALT key and enter easily forgotten sequences on the numeric keypad.

I don’t know if this forum likes having URLs in comments so:

www (dot) shortkeys (dot) com — or for their other automation tools: www (dot) wintools (dot) com

You can run Shortkeys when you start up the computer and then forget about it. It keeps an eye out for your keystroke sequences. For text substitutions I use a sequence I used eons ago when I was a typesetter: Start the code with a semicolon and then with no intervening space, enter the rest of the key sequence. For an EN dash I use two semicolons followed by a hyphen, and (because it’s easy to type) three semicolons in a row for an EM dash. The program has proved its worth many times.

Buying an additional application in order to get what should be a fundamental feature of any editor that creates HTML output isn’t the direction I was planning on going.  It just seems a bit peculiar that eM Client doesn’t implement a simple user-friendly method of inserting HTML characters into the HTML output it’s creating in a message.  There are several different ways of achieving this – ranging from somewhat clumsy to very slick – but none seem to be available, nor is an easy workaround without going through some multi-click and keystroke sequence.  Oh, well.

There is, in addition, a certain irony in the behavior where you can put an HTML character (such as em-dash) into your text stream in the editor by switching to source mode (“Edit HTML”), inserting the HTML code for the character, and then switching back to text mode.  Thereafter you can COPY that character and successfully PASTE it into your message when you want to insert it somewhere else.  But you just can’t INITIALLY insert the character directly without the tortuous path through the HTML editor. 

Copy/paste of arbitrary HTML characters is supported, and displayed in the expected way (which means that they’re recognized as HTML characters in the text of the message you’re creating).  And yet there’s no support for initial insertion of such characters – including just directly typing the HTML code for the character in the text stream of your message and having the editor say “Hey, that’s an HTML code.  I’ll substitute the character there!”, which it’s perfectly happy to do when you copy/paste the character.

I guess what I’m saying is that it appears that EmClient already has all the tools and capabilities to support the desired feature of inserting arbitrary HTML characters while creating an email message in “normal” (i.e., non-HTML or non-source) mode, but has chosen not to.  Maybe just an oversight.

I would think it a bit of a stretch to classify eM Client as an editor that provides html output. :slight_smile:

Well, it may not have the capability of providing the entire spectrum of standard-conforming HTML output, but it does generate HTML output, including appropriate codes for font characteristics, lists, etc.  I’ll grant you that it doesn’t appear to do a lot of validation, although it does attempt to do some error correction of a very simple sort.  My guess is that it uses some widely available but not particularly sophisticated HTML module for all that.

My feeling is that it does ENOUGH HTML handling that it ought to be able to rather easily support the insertion of arbitrary character entities in a pretty straightforward way.  And that would be of significant benefit to users.

I think you are correct that it is not particularly sophisticated in that regard, just doing enough to get the average formatting over to the receiver of your email.

Not sure what the restrictions are for the free version of ShortKeys that Mike mentioned, but there are many free options for doing the same thing. I use PhraseExpress, which has a free option for personal use, if that is all you need it for.

I’ll take a look at some of these.  Thanks to both of you guys.

Gary Curtin — it has been so long since I used the free version that I don’t recall its limitations. After seeing how well it worked for my purposes I ran, not walked to buy it. I didn’t spend much time hunting around for other solution. I was in too great a hurry to get those EM- and EN-dashes back, along with Typographically Correct quotation-marks (for those few times when someone cares about 'em :-).