[pmwiki-users] FCKeditor?

Joachim Durchholz jo at durchholz.org
Mon Nov 21 15:12:18 CST 2005

Patrick R. Michaud schrieb:
> On Mon, Nov 21, 2005 at 06:57:15PM +0100, Joachim Durchholz wrote:
>>Since things like FCKEditor have paved the way, I think it's entirely 
>>sensible to set up a Wiki like this:
>>* use HTML as markup
>>* do some fairly rigorous filtering
>>  to prevent the Bad Boys from inserting malware
>>* use a WYSIWYG editor so end users don't have to bother
>>  with HTML syntax.
> If the above list were sufficient, then FrontPage (or
> something like it) would've become a widespread and standard
> editing tool long ago.  Since that hasn't happened, and lots
> of people have claimed for many years that this is what
> should happen, I'm guessing there are some inherent issues
> with this approach that have yet to be solved.

Um, sure.
Frontpage isn't installed on every system. Plus it isn't collaborative 
(at least not in a useful way).

> Essentially I think the problem is that it's too difficult
> to create highly customizable WYSIWYG editors that will function
> properly across independent browsers.


The FCKEdit people have done something quite impressive though.

>>I'm not sure what place current-day wikis would have in such a scenario. 
>>I fear it's an adapt-or-perish situation though - simple wiki markup is 
>>never enough (as witnessed by the feature bloat that all wikis have 
>>succumbed to, sooner or later), so they all have a syntax that must be 
>>*learned*, and a WYSIWYG editor lets people discover instead of learn 
>>(and relieves them of syntactic subtleties).
> I disagree here -- what WYSIWYG often ends up doing is hiding the
> subtleties to a point where it's impossible for someone to be able
> to reliably work around them.  How many times has someone taken a
> Microsoft Word document from one computer and opened it in another
> computer and discovered that all of the formatting is completely
> changed?  And where does one look to figure out why?

It's not *that* bad.

The formatting problems of Word are because Word bases everything on the 
installed printer. We wouldn't even *want* identical layout in a web 
page, so that's a non-issue anyway.

Of course, that's only an example. But I think it's not as bad as people 
make it out to be.
The real bane of WYSIWYG editors written in Javascript is, probably, 
loading time. You can't download dozens of megabytes with every web page 
that somebody wants to edit.

> There's a reason that most web designers create web pages using
> tools that aren't WYSIWYG editors, and that's because WYSIWYG
> editors tend to hide too many of the important details.

> Anyway, it may be "adapt-or-perish" for wikis, but I doubt it--
> I think the fact that many people continue to edit and run
> email using non-WYSIWYG editors (and refuse to accept HTML-formatted
> email messages) is evidence that non-WYSIWYG is still important.

It does. I don't like the HTML stuff myself.
One would certainly not want to do something like Word in a JS text 

However, I've been thinking about the way PmWiki has been evolving. One 
of its main goals was (and, probably, still is) ease of use.
PmWiki is admirable in this respect, yet whenever I feel like 
recommending it to a newbie who's doing his first collaborative project 
in the WWW, I find myself hesitating... and wondering whether s/he will 
be able to learn all that PmWiki syntax. And, more importantly, how many 
visitors can use it.
I don't feel much better when considering that I have been pushing for 
some extensions myself ;-)
Well, I usually end up recommending PmWiki anyway - it's still the 
leanest generally usable wiki that I know. And I haven't had any 
reclamations yet - all who got a recommendation are happy with PmWiki. 
PmWiki must be doing something right.

However, I feel that PmWiki is nearing the "bloat point" anyway. 
Features are constantly being added, not removed. Each single one of 
these features has a purpose, is (usually) well-designed and fills a 
real need - but taken together, it's getting too many features.

A recent example was the [ link | + ] syntax. My instinctive reaction 
was "dear, yet another piece of syntax I have to learn". It may be 
consistent (I don't know about how PmWiki is handling titles now, I've 
been working on other things lately), but it certainly isn't intuitive. 
I'm pretty sure that newbies will find a lot of other things unintuitive.

Personally, I don't like the trend towards WYSIWYG editors. But I don't 
think avoiding them is a long-term options - it's more a question of 
"which technology", "when", and "what needs to be done WYSIWYG and what 
should remain 'scripted'".

Just my 2c. And maybe not even particularly spot on - just a few things 
I've been mulling over in the past months.


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