Over at Twitter, some of us are trying to have a 140-character debate on how to copy text with text-transform applied. If, for example, a website specifies
the text inside paragraph tags will appear in upper case even though in the source code it may be lower case or mixed case. If you copy this upper case-transformed text, what should end up on the clipboard? To test your current browser's behaviour, try to copy this text and see if you get lower-case or upper-case on the clipboard.
WebKit has fixed a bug saying that the copy operation should copy the case as shown, with the transform applied. Now, not everyone agrees that's the right thing to do and no other browser implemented it yet, so there's a counter-bug reported.
On Twitter we've been trying to figure out whether the case of a text is semantic or a style matter, and what the correct behaviour for plain text copying is. Kenneth Newman (@WraithKenny) builds a conceptual argument for copying "content, not style" on this reasoning:
I think that, like with color, if pasted into a program that doesn't support text-transform, the text should not be styled.
While Marcus Pope (@marcuspope) posted a more practical line of thoughts on pastebin:
In the event that a user copies text that was in ALL CAPS and they paste "All Caps" most editors can uppercase that for them if case preservation was important. But I'd argue the reverse is far more difficult – pasting "ALL CAPS", and desiring "All Caps" because people don't like to yell in text form, there are fewer editors that offer a titleize option. And when they do give a titleize option, Mr. McIntosh often gets screwed. So from a user perspective my desired option is most optimally reached when I paste the original case context, and in the rare case that I want to yell, it's only one or two mouse clicks away.
My view on this is of course informed by my background – and my first task at Opera was in customer support. I think we should above all avoid confusing users. The points above are valid, but trying to obey user expectations and avoid confusion is in my view more important than theoretical content/style distinctions and guesswork as to what might be more useful in a given situation. "WHY did the computer lower-case the text when I copied it?" is not just a question that will cause support requests and debugging time for soft- and hardware vendors and computer stores, it's also one of those little things that will add to the user's feeling of just not understanding or mastering this mysterious thing called a computer.
And that's what it's all about: giving the user a feeling of mastering her digital tools.
If you disagree or have other arguments, comments are open.