Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Web Content Editors

I recently found out that a couple of people were actually reading this. Since I've slacked off so badly, they brought it to my attention. First, thanks for reading. Second, I will try to do better. Stuff happens all the time, so I should write some of it down. I read other people's blogs to see what is going on with them, so I should repay the courtesy to those that are interested.

So, in the "be careful what you wish for" category, here is what is currently going on in my head.
WYSIWYG Editors all fucking suck. It's not competely their fault, though. I'm talking about the Web Browser based kind - not programs like GoLive or Dreamweaver (they suck too, but I'm not concerned with them right now). The suckiness beyond their control is Browser support and differences in JavaScript implementation. If the browsers are all different, it's hard to expect an Editor to work the same in each place. Sigh. Get Firefox.

Here are the reasons for suckiness, and a list of what they should do.

  1. They spit out crappy HTML. Most people don't care much about this, but I do. If the markup is crappy, it's harder for me (as the developer), to figure out what is wrong. What's with all the font tags?
  2. They have dumb names. One is called "Hardcore". How stupid is that? Yes, I'm trying to pass that name through layers of "keep the kids away from porn" filters in school proxies. Fun. Some others: FCKEditor (looks like "Fucked Editor" everytime I see it, which is about right since it seems to take it's design queues from Microsoft Word). PinEdit, XXEdit, the list goes on.
  3. Implementation is incomplete or too specific. Lots of PHP out there. Not all of us want to use PHP though. I want a spell check plugin for one of the editors - which is provided for WINDOWS via PHP. Um, how about the rest of the world? Not all of us use PHP, and not all of our customers use Windows. This really gets me when they claim to be "Cross Platform" on their website.
  4. Documentation - yeah, RTFM. Except when the Manual is wrong, outdated, incomplete or not specific enough.
Ok, I was going to list the things a good editor should do, but that seems redundant now.

So, that all said, there are some good options out there, but they don't match my needs completely for several reasons.

  1. Hardcore (previously mentioned). This is my current choice, and they seem to have changed their name to Asbru, but the product is still Hardcore. Sigh. On the plus side, they have examples for many languages (including JSP, yah!). Spell check works cross browser, too. On the downside, the HTML is awful. I had a few users get locked out of their content when trying to load it into the editor. I took a look and their were over 10,000 font and strong tags in there. WTF? Think there is a bug.
  2. TinyMCE. This seems like a really nice editor - HTML is good, implementation is good. Simple to integrate. Documenation seems pretty thorough. Problems: Spellcheck plugin is IE only. Plugins are all PHP. And the kicker: I can't get many of the documented features to work. I'm still hopeful on this one, though. Plus, it's open source , so maybe I can write some of the plugins for it.
  3. FCKEditor. Looks overbuilt, following the Word metaphor a little too closely.
  4. The Gmail/Blogger Editor - Common Google, throw us a bone. Your editor is simple, easy to operate and has kick-ass AJAX spell check. How about making it available? Pretty please.
So that's been my day.

No comments: