I was thinking of using the new open source FCKeditor on all textareas here June 21, 2004 10:16 AM   Subscribe

I was thinking of using the new open source FCKeditor on all textareas here. Play with this demo textarea and let me know what you think. Would WYSIWYG editing help or get in the way?
posted by mathowie (staff) to Feature Requests at 10:16 AM (32 comments total)

I think it's cool since it's XHTML 1.0 compatible and supports CSS. I'd say yes to using it with the basic toolbar options (bold, italic, lists and links) because it gives more members the ability to structure their input better while preventing broken and incorrect markup. Of course, I would vote no towards allowing any formatting options like size, color and font.
posted by tomorama at 10:23 AM on June 21, 2004

I don't get it, it's just a regular text box with some HTML source in for me.. but I'm using Safari. I'm not sure if WYSIWYG would be useful here, this is a site high on text and low on formatting. WYSIWYG would probably see this dynamic change, and not necessarily for the better.

This does give me an interesting idea though.. building a textarea which works in Flash, so it could provide WYSIWYG editing in all major browsers on all major platforms.. and since over 90% of people have Flash, it'd be great :-) I daresay one already exists, actually.
posted by wackybrit at 10:23 AM on June 21, 2004

I personally like the idea, but FCKeditor has a real problem with double-clicking to select a word -- it seems to sometimes select two words, at least in Mozilla. That would drive me nuts in short order.
posted by kindall at 10:24 AM on June 21, 2004

Doesn't do anything special in opera either. I get the trimmings in firefox, can't say I care for them much. Also, I fear it'll encourage overuse of formatting.

wackybrit: You realise suggesting that kind of thing entirely justifies physical violence against you, right?

Anyway, all in all I'd rather have the new and improved AskMeā€¦
posted by fvw at 10:29 AM on June 21, 2004

I echo the sentiment that this particular editor, if used as shown, will definitely lead toward all kinds of extraneous formatting, not to metnion (ugh) bulleted lists. How can it not happen, with all those options sitting right there for you, every time you post? I don't think that's a good thing.
posted by bingo at 10:31 AM on June 21, 2004

kindall, I'm getting the word selection error issues in Mozilla too.

That interface is fine, I guess, but -- Matt, do you see a hole in what could be put up here that isn't able to be posted right now? You can import pretty much anything into the posts already. Is the idea of a straight threads-and-discussion site not what you have in mind?

Would this new interface reduce server load, perhaps? I'm trying to figure out reasons to switch. After the migration, I've had fewer problems posting in the last few weeks than I've had since, well, since ever.
posted by chicobangs at 10:38 AM on June 21, 2004

I got a slightly lukewarm response to it myself from checking it out, but wanted to see if anyone thought it was totally necessary to switch to. Thanks for the feedback, I forgot about safari being heavily used here so I'll probably skip using it here in place of what we already have.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:59 AM on June 21, 2004

We'll know how well the tag balancer works in short order.
posted by yerfatma at 11:01 AM on June 21, 2004

I wouldnt bother with it Matt. Surely we all get angle brackets and have no real need for lists and bulets pre-formatting (I don't know how to, and I survive....)
posted by dash_slot- at 11:05 AM on June 21, 2004

i can't edit anything with that link. it shows some text and appears to find whatever key i press, but won't let me actually edit anything.

this is from work, so i'm using whatever the standard browser is in redhat 9. mozilla 1.2.1 according to help/about.

or, of course, i'm an idiot.... :o)
posted by andrew cooke at 11:23 AM on June 21, 2004

andrew, IIRC most of the textarea stuff in moz didn't work until 1.3.something
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:29 AM on June 21, 2004

Does S.F.A. for me.

Also, it's going to result in people using style over substance. Remember when DIY publishing first came to town? RaNsOm TyPeFaCe was so popular. Or when HTML first became popular? That damned blink tab, tons of animated graphics, all sorts of idiocy.

MeFi should, IMO, stay focused on plaintext messaging.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:35 AM on June 21, 2004

it's going to result in people using style over substance

And if you think about some of what passes for substance here, imagine what the "style" will be like.

Definitely skippable, Matt. AskMe categories/keywords and anonymous AskMe posting are higher priorities, IMO.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:02 PM on June 21, 2004

Firebird .9 on XP, I get an error when I try to add a link to the text.
posted by gramcracker at 12:11 PM on June 21, 2004

Eh. I like our boxes.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 12:12 PM on June 21, 2004

Are there shortcut keys? The regular ones (ctrl-b, ctrl-i) are already taken in FireFox... if I have to take my hand off the keyboard and use the mouse it would just be faster to type in the HTML.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:50 PM on June 21, 2004

Plain boxes. The relevant HTML isn't features it gives aren't hard to use, and loading up the FCK stuff is one more thing for the browser to possibly choke on or take extra time to swallow when loading a page.

on the other hand including stuff like this could have the effect of generally decreasing HTML literacy thus putting some value back in actually having HTML skills
posted by weston at 12:53 PM on June 21, 2004


it just bluescreened a machine we have at work here, but its perfect for another project i'm working on!
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 1:02 PM on June 21, 2004

Firebird .9 on XP, I get an error when I try to add a link to the text

moi aussi.

we don't need this, our current set up is perfect in it's simplicity.

if we're getting more ponies i want the lat/longitude pony. i know i said i'd never beg for it again, but come on, tonnes of us who spell with extra n's and u's really want it...!
posted by t r a c y at 1:22 PM on June 21, 2004

not to metnion (ugh) bulleted lists
So, to summarize:
  • Doesn't work in some browsers (specifically, mine, Opera)
  • Slow like tractor in swamp
  • Doesn't really add anything useful
posted by Capn at 1:53 PM on June 21, 2004

I hate WYSIWYG for the web.
posted by Grod at 2:07 PM on June 21, 2004

Works great in Firefox 0.9 on Linux.
Please dear god don't do it.
posted by Voivod at 2:36 PM on June 21, 2004

I prefer the vanilla look of MeFi and agree with the sentiment above that something like this will lead to overformatting.

not that people familiar with html can't overformat as things are right now, but at least that capability is a closely guarded secret
posted by freshgroundpepper at 2:40 PM on June 21, 2004

Meh. Does absolutely nothing for me and that "double-click selects random number of words" feature is a bit off-putting as well.

Now, lat/long, that would have me perking up somewhat and would actually add some functionality (perhaps). Or maybe you could fix the spell-check instead, if you have some spare time?
posted by dg at 3:11 PM on June 21, 2004


I've long loathed trying to write comments within this tiny little textarea, but I also write epic comments. The font is small and the width and height do not encourage formating of a useful, readable block of content. It's my experience that writing in this space is cramped and difficult, so I write in wordpad or emacs. Then I paste the text into here, preview it, make changes in the editor, rinse and repeat until I'm happy or give up. (I give up about 30 to 40 percent of the time.)

My preference would be for a larger editing area, at least in width and simpler preview functionality. Having to reload a 100 comment thread just to find I screwed up the paste is discouraging. In Firefox, I can can control-scroll wheel to adjust the size of the text in the text area, but then everything else is HUGE.

As for a simpler preview, there are three ways:

1) Show the last n comments, where n is always a maximum of the number of comments since you last loaded the page, five comments or all comments if there are less than five, whichever is greater. This would reduce load times for those previewing. The problem with this solution is you're responding to a comment 50 comments ago, it will disappear on preview and require other browser window gymnastics to find.

2) Preview in a new window. On preview, a window pops up, showing all the new comments since you last hit preview and a preview of what you've written. If you're happy with what you're previewing, you can just hit submit in the preview window, which also closes the window and reloads the parent window. If you're not, you can just close the window. This is a two window solution, so it may not be ideal for some.

3) Live updating preview. Using some simple Javascript, you can type and preview at the same time. The Javascript can easily be written to work in all modern browsers. It would look something like this example I just put together (self link).
posted by sequential at 4:14 PM on June 21, 2004

I think it's cool since it's XHTML 1.0 compatible...

Tomorama, are you sure it's XHTML 1.0 compatible? It looks like when a font size is selected, FCKeditor returns a <font size="x"> tag. Isn't <font> deprecated in HTML 4.01 and non-supported in the XHTML 1.0 Strict DTD?

I don't use WYSIWYG web editors because I'm comfortable both with writing HTML and predicting its rendered result in a variety of circumstances. But I can see why it's useful for people, and I'm curious...had it been supported on Safari, Matt would you have used it for MetaFilter? Does it seem like too little value for too much work?

Y'know, I've recently been fortunate enough to test WYSIWYG in certain circumstances with users (me = web developer) and am coming to the conclusion that editing tasks that are performed on text that is the size of a "popular" understanding of a "document" (something larger than a typical comment on a forum, something smaller than a novel) can be streamlined for novice/newbie browser users and can substantially lower the barrier to entry to web application use, particularly where limited HTML knowledge brings high value to the task (i.e. adding a hyperlink)...but that's probably not a group of user personas that describe the average MetaFilter editor / poster.

Using some simple Javascript, you can type and preview at the same time.

sequential, that's cool...in my experience inline Javascript preview tests amazingly well, which wouldn't have been my guess - I would've lost that bar bet. Interestingly, I've found most of our testers leaning towards modal control of the display. Go fig'ya.
posted by massless at 4:44 PM on June 21, 2004

Warblogging has a nice feature for relpying to comments. You copy the text you want to reply to and click "reply to this comment." The comment form appears immediately below the comment you're replying to, and the text you selected appears in a blockquote inside the textarea. (The only thing I'd change is having the original commentor's name be a link to the original comment.)

We recently discussed visual editors at SportsFilter and decided we didn't want one.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:45 PM on June 21, 2004

Regarding formatting, I think less is more. But maybe that's just me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:58 PM on June 21, 2004

OMG matt U have to let us use this! It has resizeable smileys!!!

(Nah, I don't think this is right for MeFi either.)
posted by Guy Smiley at 8:38 PM on June 21, 2004

What overformatting?
posted by DrJohnEvans at 7:32 AM on June 22, 2004

it is possible, Dr.
posted by nthdegx at 9:04 AM on June 22, 2004

Comment posting ain't broke.
posted by callmejay at 1:24 PM on June 22, 2004

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