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Feature Proposal: Basic WYSIWYG editor that is restricted to specific sections of a topic.


I am convinced that the single greatest block to usability of TWiki by lack of a viable Wysiwyg option for basic editing. Client after client, I hear the same thing: if folks can't work in a wysiwyg environment, they just aren't interested. All of TWiki's other charms never even get a hearing.

I don't mean to disparage the efforts that have gone into WysiwygPlugin and similar efforts. I appreciate the difficulty of dealing moving back and forth between TWiki markup and the complex html standard wysiwyg editors produce. However, the problem remains that these break many TWiki topics that include any of the more complex TWiki tags.

However, I really believe that there is a viable and readily achieveable approach that has not been looked at seriously enough. That is, to have a Wysiwyg editor that provides simple text formatting in discret sections of topics.

In the TWiki applications that I have created, topics typically have made up of several page elements:

  • Standardized headings that are created by INCLUDES.
  • The main content block which is the only part the user really needs to edit.
  • Other special features such as sidebars, custom searches, drop-down menus, etc., which the basic user should not mess with at all.

Description and Documentation

So the solution I would like to advocate is having a way to designate a section of the topic that is editable using a very basic Wysiwyg editor. It could be implemented similar to SectionalEditPlugin:

  • The section to be edited is braketed by tags something along the lines of %WYSEDIT%.
  • A link (or nice little icon) is inserted to the right those sections which, when clicked, invokes the wysiwyg editor just for that section.
  • The rest of the page is only editable through standards TML interface.

When I say "basic editing" I really mean that. The only formatting that really needs to be included are:

  • Headings
  • Bulleted and numbered paragraphs with levels.
  • Bold, italic and colored text.
  • Inserting links
  • Inserting images.
  • Maybe smilies (just because they're fun and users like them).

Simple tables might be nice but I really don't think they are essential. Or let me put it this way: not having that would not be a show-stopper. Not offering the above formatting in a wysiwyg environment current is a show-stopper. And all of these formatting can pretty easily be translated back to TWiki markup (or at least I think so).

This seems really doable and I challenge anyone to point to a feature that would come anywhere close to improving TWiki's appeal to basic users.

As an aside, this level of functionality is essentially comparable to what is offered by MediaWiki, JotSpot and our other prime competition.

I would really like to throw out a challenge here to anyone who cares about TWiki breaking into a broader audiance. So how about it folks? Why can't we do this? What will it take? I'm sorry I can't code it but I can make this irresistable offer: a supply of New Mexico's finest green or red chile to anyone who can and does achieve it! You're users will love you for it! Your mother will love you for it! You will be a hero!!


Impact and Available Solutions


-- Contributors: LynnwoodBrown


-- LynnwoodBrown - 09 May 2006

Topic revision: r1 - 2006-05-09 - LynnwoodBrown
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