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WYSIWYG editors & wikis

Ed Tolley has posted a comment here about an instance of DominoWiki out there that is using TinyMCE for its editor, rather than wiki mark-up.

Our corporate wiki is currently undergoing a version bump so that it too will use a WYSIWYG editor. Which is great. But not what wikis are all about in my mind. Our wiki at work can do everything. You can format sophisticated tables, consume news feeds, apply myriad custom macros to your content, format to the nth degree…

But wikis aren’t supposed to be replacements for MS Word. They’re supposed to be quick’n’dirty editable web sites for work-in-progress. Where did we go wrong?

Lars says it best.

OK, OK, so I’m a wiki purist: that’s one reason I have not incorporated a rich text editor in DominoWiki. The others?

  • Markup: rich text editors generally produce (X)HTML. Wiki markup produces (X)HTML. But the key thing is wiki mark-up, something I want DominoWiki to continue to do, and do well.
  • Uuuuummmm: OK, so I have no more reasons. I just like simplicity, OK?

In an earlier release of DominoWiki, we had a fork that used a rich text editor of sorts. I never pursued it, I must confess, and this is mainly because I was preoccupied with the new parser, new versioning engine, etc. But clearly there is an appetite for WYSIWYG editors out there, so let’s take a poll: if DominoWiki 1.5 (say) introduced such an option, would you want it?

Oh, and does the mystery person behind the link Ed referenced want to contribute?? ;-)

(BTW, TinyMCE rocks. If anyone would like an article on incorporating it in a Domino application, say now!

Comments

  1. TinyMCE is very cool. I also use FCKeditor a lot, and have a Domino implementation that allows you to add doclinks and attachments and graphics and such. We also host a long, fairly comprehensive list of these editors at http://www.GeniiSoft.com/showcase.nsf/WebEditors which is amazingly heavily used (it is linked to from places like Wikipedia and such for WYSIWYG).Ben Langhinrichs#
  2. Oh, yes, I forgot to make my point. I have done an integration of DominoWiki with FCKeditor and our CoexEdit product (see http://www.GeniiSoft.com/showcase.nsf/CoexEdit for details on the product, but not the integration), but it was very specialized and I don't own it, so I may do a new, more general version with TinyMCE (which is lighter) and DominoWiki that supports Wiki markup in both Notes and on the web.Ben Langhinrichs#
  3. The two aspects of wikis that have proven them to be invaluable to me are: 1) automatic inter-linking of related pages 2) automatic identification of pending content. If there were a "wysi-wiki" that offered more robust formatting but still supported those two items, I suppose I'd be in favor of it. But I think wysi's are better suited for a CMS, where fancy formatting is often a must-have… on the whole, I'd say keep wiki's pure. Too much formatting tends to distract from the information presented anyway.Tim Tripcony#
  4. I would vote for keeping things simple, I totally agree that a wiki is meant to be somewhere you go to quickly create and update "live" documents. If you want lots of formatting then write a Word document.Matt White#
  5. There is already an article about adding tinymce to a Domino app over at codestore.net.

    http://www.codestore.net/apps/tinymce.nsfBrian#
  6. Thanks for the pointer Brian. Looks like a work-in-progress to me though (e.g. try adding an image to some content).Ben Poole#
  7. Ben, thanks for your comments! We too link to your list of rich text editors, it's a great resource.

    Re TinyMCE, what I like about it - as opposed to FCKEditor, which I've also integrated in Domino - is that you don't need custom object code to load it. You have an init() routine which converts nominated bog-standard textarea elements into rich text editors. Nice.Ben Poole#
  8. As long as the key functionality of a wiki is intact I don't mind wysiwyg editors being used.

    We have to remember that we as developers understand wiki markup and the benefits of wiki's - but the end users do not.

    They will feel at home with some sort of bold button - makes them feel comfortable and at ease with themselves and the software. Therefore enabling us to sell them the concept and ideas!

    Hell I would put a bold button on the SKY remote to make my missus more comfortable with using it!Steve Castledine#
  9. I'll take a WikiSyntax any day. However, I have grown to really like Markdown as a text-only synatx that converts nicely to HTML. I also have been looking at porting Markdown to LotusScript, but it seems I need to port a real RegExp library first…

    Working with languages like Ruby really takes all the fun out of LotusScriptJens-Christian Fischer#
  10. Wiki syntax is fine if you have a technical audience who would actually read blogs and come and have a discussion here. :) If you know wiki syntax it works quite well, but if you don't it's another barrier to entry for contributing to the wiki. Wiki syntax is simpler to learn than HTML but it's still harder than a wysiwyg editor. If you want non-technical people to adopt the wiki you need a wysiwyg editor. I've written about this in quite a lot of detail at http://www.symphonious.net/2005/07/19/wiki-syntax-considered-harmful/

    If you're worried about people going crazy with formatting, just remove all but the basic formatting functions that you want. With a good editor you could restrict it right down to only allowing the use of predefined CSS styles. Just because it's WYSIWYG doesn't mean it has to let you do anything you want.

    Also, just because you're using HTML doesn't mean you have to stop using wiki links - the wiki we use internally happily works with either HTML A tags or wiki style links, plus all the usual wiki plugin stuff still works. If you find the wiki plugin stuff useful you can integrate support for it into the WYSIWYG editor too so that it's easier to use. Whether or not that's useful will depend on what you're doing with the wiki and how technical your users are.Adrian Sutton#
  11. If you want non-technical people to adopt the wiki you need a wysiwyg editor

    Well, you would say that eh ;-) (For those who don't know, Ephox produce WYSIWYG editors and related systems for the web)Ben Poole#

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