Web-based WYSIWhatever editors

I really like the thinking behind the the WYSIWYM editor by Peter Krantz. People really like the WYSIWYG editors, but they almost certainly create problems for themselves down the road when they’re used in a web context. What happens, for example, when you want a new design for your site? How do you make all the old content look consistent if you’ve used inline styles? This is a very real problem.

What publications should do is decide on a common set of styles that they want to use consistently across all content, and which are communicated clearly in a style guide, so that you know how and where and what to go in and change later when you want to change the look of the site.

It should still be possible to break out of that when you absolutely need something — for example to demonstrate HTML techniques, or when you need to show something that is all about presentation — but that is the exception, not the rule, and that should be clear in the interface.

So far our solution has indeed been Textile, which is equivalent in this context to Markdown, but it is clearly inadequate in the context of a pubishing tool like PublicSquare, where you actually do care about what the final result looks like, not just the words or the substance in it. Even I, as an engineer that’s been using Textile for a couple years, and who understand the mechanics of how it’s turned into HTML, and what that HTML looks like, and what consequences that has, needs to turn to the preview every once in a while to make sure I got it right.

Something can clearly be improved here, and I like the intent behind the WYSIWYM.

(Via 456)