Copy-and-paste support for Google Docs

06-15-2022 05:24 AM
Status: In Product Plan
Labels (2)
Occasional Contributor III

Currently, when one attempts to copy-and-paste text from a Google Doc into a StoryMap the text may later unexpectedly disappear and cannot be recovered from within the StoryMap. For example, see the thread under Pasted Bulleted Text from Google Docs Disappears Unexpectedly, as well as other posts about "disappearing text" in StoryMaps.

While the root cause of the issue may lay with bad HTML formatting on Google's part, it would be very helpful if Esri found a way to support the normal cut-and-paste workflow between Docs and StoryMaps.

As a Google organization this is very problematic as Google Docs is the default editor for people crafting their story text outside of StoryMaps. Furthermore, the failure mode here is not obvious to users, so self-discovery of the suggested workaround is not intuitive. 

Perhaps the paste step on the StoryMaps side could always be handled as paste without formatting or as plain text?

Status changed to: In Product Plan

@PeterKnoop -- Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. We do understand this is a confusing issue that is impacting students and others who use Google Docs, and we are committed to addressing it. Unfortunately, as discussed on the other thread, there's no easy or consequence-free solution on our side because of the external constraints present in this situation. So we have to take time to research and weigh the options available to us, and that is what we are currently doing.

Regarding your suggestion to strip formatting in all cases, that is something we are considering. However, we're hesitant to downgrade the experience authors are getting from copying text from pages/apps that use properly formatted HTML (such as Wikipedia, W3Schools, and many others) because of other sites that don't follow conventions. That said, we also realize there are certain sites authors are more likely to be copying text from, so the best option may be to prioritize the experience from those sites at the expense of the others. And currently, for authors who are aware, there are workarounds to manually paste/import text without formatting that address this issue.

I'm marking this as In product plan, because our goal is to get this issue addressed in some form in the late summer/early fall, ideally before or right around when students come back to school for the next academic year.


@OwenGeo -- Glad to hear this is on the radar for the coming Northern Hemisphere school year! I look forward to whatever creative way you all come up with to address this! (Perhaps you could test the validity of the HTML, and if it isn't properly formatted, strip the HTML, and paste as plain text?)


Peter and Owen - thanks for this post and response. We experienced several incidents of this this semester. When someone asks about the problem, we can address it, but it's those who don't ask and just get frustrated. Part of the issue is that we encourage students to write their content in a Google Doc either for collaboration with other students or to turn in to the instructor for editing (instructors like Google Docs better than a StoryMap because it's easier to make comments/edits.)