WYSIWYG Web Editors

All modern content management systems provide a Word-style editor that lets non-technical staff edit and add content to web sites. It is a key part of enabling line staff around the organization to produce and manage their own content.

What you may not have realized is that you have several options avaiable for adding WYSIWYG editors (what you see is what you get) to your own web applications. Sometimes they are as easy to install as adding a few lines of code to a web page.

Here are a few free and commercial solutions for providing an easy to use text editor in your own web applications:

Tiny MCE
This editor works across numerous platforms and is available under an open source license. It is written in javascript and is used widely in many applications. It has many configuration options available and can be tweaked to support a defined set of styles.

Ektron eWebEditPro
A widely used commercial editor from Ektron. It is also highly configurable and allows you tie down functionality to just what you want editors to have access too. It is not cross platform and only works on Windows-based browsers. (Their suggestion for Mac clients is a bit of a joke.)

Another open source content editor written in Javascript.

And one more open source, Javascript-based, editor.

Given all the options available, it is unreasonable not to provide a rich editor for your applications that should support user formatting of content.

Outlook 2007 to Use Word for Rendering HTML E-mail

According to SitePoint, Microsoft Breaks HTML Email Rendering in Outlook 2007:

That’s right. Instead of taking advantage of Internet Explorer 7, Outlook 2007 uses the very limited support for HTML and CSS that is built into Word 2007 to display HTML email messages.

Egads! This will be quite a boon for newsletter designers, once they figure out what will work in Word 2007. It will be a horrible pain for the rest of the world. Given Word’s atrocious history of HTML mark-up, I shudder to think what hoops designers will have to employ to get decent rendering.

Perhaps my traditionalist preference for plaintext will come back into vogue.

(Spotted via Simon Willison.)


Here is a new WYSIWYG editor for use in web-based content management interfaces: WYMeditor. It won’t give your users true “what you see is what you get” views of the content they are editing but it does enforce strict adherence to XHTML markup. If you have to have highly structured content then this might be a good tool to add to your system.

Spotted via Gadgetopia.

Releasing CSS

O’Reilly Media has published a new PDF book (their Short Cut series) that brings us up to speed on IE 7 CSS support and how it differs from IE 6. Looks like a good resource if you want to make sure your design translates well into IE 7. Releasing CSS:

In an industry that communicates with terms such as “Browser Hell” and “browser wars,” a web designer can be excused for having some anxiety over Microsofts recent upgrade of Internet Explorer 6 IE6 to Internet Explorer 7 IE7. Web designers should ask the following questions:

  • What problems does IE6 possess and what fixes does IE7 provide?
  • What part of the Cascading Style Sheets CSS specification does IE7 for Windows support?
  • How can web designers work around any problems that exist within IE7s support for CSS?
  • While web designers are testing their designs on the latest browser, how fast will IE7 be adopted by their clients audience?

This Short Cut attempts to answer these questions to allow web designers a smoother transition to IE7 and, hopefully, an escape from Browser Hell.

IE6 and IE7 Running on a Single Machine

Here is some helpful information from the MS IEBlog about how to run IE 6 and 7 on the same machine.

IEBlog : IE6 and IE7 Running on a Single Machine

This is really important for any web developer or designer since IE6 will be with us for quite a long time to come.  The downside here is that it isn’t possible to run both browsers within the same instance of the operating system, which is why MS is offering a free virtual server with which to run 6 in parallel. Not ideal.

I’m surprised that MS didn’t foresee this need before they launched 7.

Targeting Accessibility

A new court ruling you should be aware of that sets a precedent for web site accessibility:

The court held: “the ‘ordinary meaning’ of the ADA’s prohibition against discrimination in the enjoyment of goods, services, facilities or privileges, is that whatever goods or services the place provides, it cannot discriminate on the basis of disability in providing enjoyment of those goods and services.” The court thus rejected Target’s argument that only its physical store locations were covered by the civil rights laws, ruling instead that all services provided by Target, including its Web site, must be accessible to persons with disabilities.

The plaintiffs charge that target.com fails to meet the minimum standard of web accessibility. It lacks compliant alt-text, an invisible code embedded beneath graphic images that allows screen readers to detect and vocalize a description of the image to a blind computer user. It also contains inaccessible image maps and other graphical features, preventing blind users
from navigating and making use of all of the functions of the website. And because the website requires the use of a mouse to complete a transaction, blind Target customers are unable to make purchases on target.com independently.

The irony here is that there is no good technical reason for not having a highly accessible web site these days. The limitations of Target’s site mentioned above are all old school design techniques that are quite simply out of date and unnecessary. Why they didn’t just update their site design instead of fighting a costly court battle is beyond me.

Why You Should Test Your Site in IE7 Right Now

Do you know how your site looks and functions in IE7? No? Better get testing: IEBlog : IE7 to be distributed via Automatic Updates!

To help our customers become more secure and up-to-date, we will distribute IE7 as a high-priority update via Automatic Updates (AU) shortly after the final version is released for Windows XP, planned for the fourth quarter of this year.

Emphasis added. Based on this, I would expect IE7 to be adopted pretty quickly even though users will have the option not to install it when it downloads via Automatic Updates.

(Via Gadgetopia.)

NYT 1024, Georgia!

The New York Times launched a new site design yesterday. You can read an introduction to the redesign from Leonard M. Apcar, the editor of the online version of the paper. Among notable changes, they have expanded the width of the site beyond 800 pixels to take advantage of higher resolution monitors that are out there now and they have switched from their font from Times New Roman to Georgia to improve readability. The font switch blew me away. I can just imagine how challenging it must have been to push that through the powers that be internally. The site design also makes minimal use of tables and employs standards-based techniques for their menus.

I like the new look quite a bit based on my initial experience with it.