What is it?
Using a WYSIWYG editor allows people to start editing pages without needing to learn the details of even a simple wiki syntax. The success of a WYSIWYG editor is highly dependent on the quality of the editor provided. If the editor is not high enough quality, it is often better to avoid it altogether and simply use wiki markup directly.
Benefits Of WYSIWYG
- Avoids users having to learn the details of the wiki markup before they can contribute. For many users, particularly non-technical users, the learning required can be a significant barrier to participation.
- Better media integration. When users can see the page as they edit, they are often more inclined to include images and other media to assist in communication.
- Allows users to achieve better results faster. Users will be more likely to create pages that are visually appealing if they can see the page as they edit it. While this may not add to the content, it can encourage users and give them more confidence with using the wiki.
- Slow editors. A number of in-browser editors can feel sluggish to users. While this may seem like a small problem, it can become very frustrating for users over time.
- Buggy or unintuitive editors. Many editors frustrate users over time because of bugs in the software or simply because they force the user to stop and think how to operate the editor instead of focusing on creating content.
- Inaccurate conversion between wiki markup and HTML. A number of wikis use a HTML editor but actually store the content as wiki markup. While it is straight-forward to convert wiki markup to HTML, it is very difficult to convert the HTML back to wiki markup. An alternative for private wikis is to use HTML as the storage format and this is supported by many wikis. Publicly editable wikis need to be cautious of security issues when allowing HTML content - it is possible to sanitize the HTML so it is safe, but most wikis pass the HTML through unfiltered.
- In a small number of cases, the user's focus may be drawn to the page layout and formatting instead of the content. If this happens, the simplest solution is often to disable advanced features of the editor to limit the options for authors and encourage them to focus on the content instead of the formatting.
- Many wikis have sophisticated mechanisms for advanced content production (like page inclusions, page templates, plugins, ...). These are usually implemented through special syntax constructs which may not be available through the WYSIWYG editor, limiting the users to do trivial tasks
Tips For A Successful WYSIWYG Editor
- Carefully evaluate the editor for quality and intuitiveness as well as speed.
- Avoid using HTML editors to edit wiki markup. Instead, use HTML as the storage format or use an editor that is specifically designed for wiki markup.
- Customize the editor for your specific needs. Disable unneeded functionality and provide shortcuts for common operations. If a common template is used on your wiki (for example, for comments within the page), provide a custom button in the editor to insert the template.
- Provide an easy way for users to disable the editor by default if they prefer writing markup directly.
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