the editor is important - modern wysiwyg editing

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The Editor is Important

The Editor is ImportantCreating a quality author experienceDamien FitzpatrickSenior Director of Products, Ephox

In the beginning there was the typing pool. Word processing and publishing was a largely manual process. For small jobs teams of people would replicate content by hand, or using a printing press for larger jobs.

In the 70s and 80s this was improved on with the electric type writer. It could do fancy things like delete and offered some minor formatting capabilities, though still in a single font.

I learned to type using one of these.

1989 delivered us WordPerfect 5.1. This was perhaps the first widely adopted word processor, it was certainly one of the first on MS DOS. With Word Perfect word processing made it out of the corporate offices and into peoples homes en mass. For the first time we had formatting and layout and tables. For the first time making it possible for people to use tables for layout!!!

This was my first experience with word processing.

Finally in the 90s the modern word processor took shape. While Clippy may have quickly disappeared Microsoft did create a lasting impression in other ways. Word 1997 established the user interface that youll still recognise in most word processors today. They also gave the world Comic Sans, striking the perfect balance between fun and business while frustrating site designers for years to come.

With the 90s the Internet also became a thing. By the late 90s anyone who understood HTML could create a web site and capture the attention of the world with their message in blinking scrolling marquee tags.

Sources: the early 2000s WYSIWYG editing came to the web, mostly to businesses, from Ephox and Ektron - who launched the first two rich text editors, based on ActiveX technology, around 2001.

By 2005, WYSIWYG editing with TinyMCE had made its way into WordPress providing open source content editing and publishing to whats grown into an enormous user base.

Today over 23% of the top 1 million sites on the web as surveyed by the W3C are created and published using WordPress software.The Content Explosion41.7 million WordPress posts per monthProducing 15.5 billion page views From 409 million people

Sources:, million edits per month32,500 editorsOver 9 billion page views

The written word is still our most fundamental of communication tools. It is what drives our web experience - whether its the term were searching for, the information that were reading or content that were publishing.

It is the most important means of communicating our history, our ideas, our experiences and our values.

The internet and associated technologies like WordPress, Wikipedia, web content management systems and rich text editors have enabled people and organisations to communicate like never before.

41.7 posts, each an average of 600 words. Thats 25 billion words every month produced by WordPress users.Creating Value with ContentSo now we have all this content and our businesses or clients are creating huge amounts of content. So our work here as content professionals is done right? Jay Baer, author of YoutilityThe secret is not to do moreits to create content that matters, that they cherish since people crave useful things.

The challenge for us as content professionals is to create VALUABLE - Services and Info

Gov.UK - turning boring government information and forms into a valuable resource for citizensTwilio - API Documentation

Twilio - Phone system APIs. Perhaps the only business more old school and boring than word processing. However what I feel sets Twilio apart, and whats made it successful, is its attention to the content it produces. The products that Ephox produces are not dissimilar to Twilio in terms of the target market - developers - and I would love for us to be doing as good a job with our documentation as Twilio does with theirs.

American Express Open Forum - Content contributed by Amex customers and business leaders, these are not content professionals for the most part but their thoughts and opinions are a valuable content resource. Content is then curator by AMEX.The editors environment is importantYour editors highly trained, but self taughtThis comes with a lot of baggageThey are creating valuable content with a purposeThe editing environment is the most important productivity tool for achieving that purposeUse the tab key as an example of baggage

Top 5 Editor Tips1. Understand Your Editors and Your ContentYou need to understand the users and the use caseCasual or professional contributors?Technical or non-technical users?Corporate site, email, blog or wiki?Dont just put any rich text editor in placeTheyre all customisable 2. Bring It Together In the EditorMost content authors dont understandA Web Page = HTML + Scripts + CSS + MediaYou need to ensure they dont have towithout taking away the flexibility they want/need

Image EditingAccessibility CheckingStyle Sheet ClassesHTML EditingEphoxs EditLive! Editor

3. Dont Expect Editors to Understand MetadataAn important part of most content systemsGreat for processing contentToo much can hinder creation of contentBad metadata can be worse than none at all

This is Drupal and when it comes to overloading people with metadata you need look no further. Im somewhat ashamed to admit this is actually a screenshot of Ephoxs Drupal implementation. We have at least customised the editor here, but it would be been even better if wed taken a critical look at how many metadata fields we were presenting.4. Get The Basics RightUsing a rich text editor is an unconscious skillDo not underestimate the importance of the keyboard UX, reliable copy and paste, robust lists and tables, spell checkingIt doesnt matter how many features the editor has if it cant get the Enter key rightWhen youre evaluating an editor dont just look at the toolbar icons - write a document!5. Less, But Better

The challenge is to give the author the key set of familiar tools they need without cluttering the UI. This is a mixture of good UI design from your editing vendor and taking the time to really think about the configuration of the editor that your users really need. So Now Weve Solved EditingRight?

Were Not Back Where We WereMost web editors still lack some basic capabilitiesSpell checkingReliable copy and pasteRobust tables and listsImage editing (or even image copy and paste)- Spell checking is particularly lacking in multilingual environments where the browsers spell check is not sufficient.Copy and paste varies, editors like CKEditor and TinyMCE get the formatting (mostly) right but almost all editors fail to import images. Ephox has made copy and paste one of our key focuses for this reason, including importing images.Not even Google Docs gets robust flexible tables right

Transparent EditingVisual, Inplace, Inline or In-context EditingBlurs the lines between reading and editingIncreasingly the focus for content contributionWordPress Front-end Editor plugin in alphaLimited opportunity to add more than content medium.comThis was really pioneered by a content company called Red Dot but I would say that its been perfected by services like Medium.

This is coming, Ive seen UIs like this from Adobe, IBM, WordPress and others. Its fantastic for content editors. Since its contextual and theres no abstraction to the content users dont have to think or care about anything other than the content. The downside is that it limits the flexibility and complexity of the interface, and can be very limiting if not designed well.Going MobileA challenge for adapting our contentA huge challenge in adapting rich text editorsHTML5 and Responsive Design with CSS3 are key

Mobile is happening. Ephox is actively working with several companies where mobile is a strategic focus. Expect to see this to be an essential part of creating content within the next 2 to 5 years.

From the Desktop to the WebWord processing has moved to the webGoogle Docs, Office 365, IBM DocsRemains designed for the printed pageNo publishing, your content is on their systemsEditing in the CloudA complete editing experience, with all its supporting services, delivered through the cloudOffers new editing possibilitiesImage editing and managementReusable content templatesReal time collaborationContent portabilityThe Editor is ImportantDamien FitzpatrickEphox, Senior Director of


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