Forum OpenACS Q&A: WYSIWYG editor...

Posted by David Kuczek on
There has been some talk in the past about an apropriate WYSIWYG editer to be used for all sorts of textarea input...

What is the most advanced and community backed open source editor out there? I saw Robert's editor that has been integrated into modetp. Looks very nice already, but doesn't really support Mozilla/Netscape.

My plan is to use this editor as an independent piece of software to be used with any kind of future oacs "CMS". I would also like the editor to be able to define certain css styles to the html code is it producing. For example if you want to mainstream all tables that display some certain sort of information you can click on a css table style and then pick the rows and columns.

2: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by Dave Bauer on

The best way to integrate something like that would be to write a form builder widget.

Right now we have the richtext form builder widget. I recently started work to get the richtext widget working in ETP. You can see it working at

If you register you will be able to add pages and edit them.

If you find any bugs, please don't reply to this thread, I am still working on it. Email me or visit #openacs on

3: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by David Kuczek on
Hey Dave,

it looks nice already, but why don't you use Robert's (Locke) widget? It doesn't work with IE though, but is already very advanced...

BTW Robert, is it easy to integrate it into an oacs package? And is the code in the public domain?

4: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by Dave Bauer on
I haven't looked at Robert's widget. It is not a form-builder widget, and richtext already is. So it only takes a couple of lines of code to make it work.

I would like to build a rich text widget with more features in OpenACS.

It looks like I can't seem to get the ad_form version of etp-edit working quite correctly so if anyone tries that link, it will probably be broken.

5: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by Jun Yamog on

Robert's solution was to use a activeX control.  Use hotmail and IE, that is the exact same control from what I recall, maybe it has changed don't know.  Anyway there is much opposition to make use of this activeX control from the community.  Its been years since I first brought up the first demo of modETP.  And that has been one the main negatives.  Which I guess I have to agree, we can't use an activeX control only.

I think DaveB suggested something, I forgot what it is.  But its a Mozilla based project.  The goal of this project is to be a front end of different cms.  If any one out there who has funding I think its about time that a good editor is put into place.  I think the name is twingle, twiddle, what ever.  Dave B knows about it.

I hope this time this issue is finally addressed.  If you are in a hurry to have one.  Go with an activeX control comes will all windows :)

6: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 5)
Posted by Danielle Hickie on

Since this editor is going to be used (at least in our case) by the editors of the site and since we are using Mozilla as the standard browser, we are looking into Mozilla Editor, as pointed by Jun. It's really neat and works very well. The problem is that if you were to provide a functionality for people to edit their pages in a community, well, 95% of -at least our- users are using IE... :( ... but maybe we could just tell them: "you use IE? No WYSIWYG for you" ;).

Just my 2 cents

7: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 6)
Posted by Bruno Mattarollo on
Sorry, I was logged as Danielle on my machine ... I should have looked at the navigation bar "logged in as ..." :))
8: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by David Cotter on
I have added a WYSIWYG editor into ETP for a project I'm working on. Here are the details of how to add it:

(note the test login doesn't work anymore)

I also integrated (in an ad-hoc fashion) the WYSIWYG editor into Photo Album to allow you to insert images into a ETP by choosing the desired image from the album. This is intended for users who can't use HTML.

The editor is TextArea is open source and I used a version for IE 5.5 only. There is a beta version that works with IE and Mozilla and includes a spell checker and advanced HTML tables functionality which I will check out soon - it's worth looking at:

9: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 8)
Posted by Tom Jackson on

The htmlarea seems to work with Mozilla and Gecko derived browsers as well as IE. It also seems pretty easy to add it to a site.

I can't really say why someone would use it for anything serious, textareas are still unfriendly even if WYSIWYG. It might be nice if you could select a file to upload, then put the contents into a text field in the database. Then you could use your favorite editor, save your work, spell check, etc.

Nicer still would be a simple upload tool, where you could map local files to content, maybe keep track of what you changed via an mtime or whatever. Hit one button and update.

The same format could be used to upload a zip file: read the mapping file and update the content.

10: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by Talli Somekh on
Tom, that's what WebDAV does.


11: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 10)
Posted by Tom Jackson on


I thought WebDAV updated files. I'm talking about a local file to database object.field map. I guess OpenACS has the double problem of html output/location not corresponding to the file content/location on the server, plus, content residing in the database which is sometimes more than just text.

12: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by Dave Bauer on

Generally we want to keep track of everything in the database. The user should never need to know if the content is stored in the database or the filesystem. Using OpenACS you can map content to a URL. (Hypothetically at least 😊

Other content management system that store "objects" in some sort of database so allows access to them through webDAV. A key feature of webDAV is the concept of properties which are additional attributes of a "resource" which is basically whatever "thing" is available at a certain URL.

13: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by Tom Jackson on

I'm sorry if I missed the point about WebDAV, but it doesn't sound like it works yet in our situation. I just thought you could use a simple little text file to say 'this file corresponds to this chunk of content', and then use a simple POST to make the update. For database content, I don't see why you need WebDAV, I mean isn't WebDAV just trying to use the filesystem as a database and managing access, etc. Even if WebDAV can access object properties, I believe we can do that with OpenACS, with HTTP, right now.

Adding or editing a large chunk of content in a textarea is less than ideal, other than copy & paste from a real text editor. If content is short, it isn't that big of a deal.

I'm probably confused as usual, if anyone has any links to good WebDAV products, please post 'em.

14: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by Torben Brosten on
OT, but related to an ETP discussion about a year ago lost in the depths of the boards (or was it just in my world?). Anyway, this suggestion is not for 5.0, but maybe 5.x or 6.0?

What if the question is rephrased to:

What editors can OpenACS import/export pages to/from?

Perhaps ETP (in the context of CMS) could function by allowing the user to download the page (in the format of their favorite editor), make changes, and then upload the file. Or, just upload a file to create a new page etc. etc.

Openoffice has an expanding set filters for importing/exporting file standards for various editors. Maybe these filters could be a jumping point for developing this "knowledge-base" system. It could be expanded beyond text formatting for applications involving graphics, such as shared development of engineering drawings, or other formats etc.

15: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by Torben Brosten on
ps. There would still be a need for simple textarea editing of pages to more conveniently make minor changes (and be less of a load on the system).
16: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by Dave Bauer on

Yes these are all good ideas. One way to accomplish the upload/download/edit/upload process is with webdaV. Word can open DAV resources.

Besides that plain old upload of content is also a good idea. One area that needs to be addressed is conversion of other formats to html, but there are solutions to that that can be integrated to OpenACS.

Posted by Dave Bauer on
I have started a thread over in the CMS forum

to discuss various ways to get content in and out of OpenACS.

18: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 3)
Posted by Robert Locke on

Sorry for the late reply.  The WYSIWYG editor I use only works with IE5+ unfortunately.  I just saw the HTMLArea demo at and that appears to hold the most promise since it's free, feature-rich, etc.

I would be more than willing to share the code, though it would need to be cleaned up.  You can see it and our CMS in action at:

Instructions are here:

There's a simple Tcl API for creating the wysiwyg widget.  It's also integrated with acs-templating so it can be created as easily as any other widget.  Though this did require a few code changes relating to the widget's need for a specialized submit button.

19: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by Brian Fenton on
Kevin Crosbie wrote an OpenACS package WYSIWYG editor for IE. You can find it at

More info at

20: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by Andrei Popov on
Not to sound critical, but using Word as a page editor -- even if that in some way simplifies the pulishing process -- I just have grave reservations about...  Unless you'd try to parse a resulting doc using something like libwv, converting it to a more sensible XML/XHTML/HTML representation...

I'd say that a properly handled textarea could be a lot more flexible than that.  Both RTE and HTMLArea linked from this thread, as well from related threads look quite promising.

Now, generating an RTF document out of whatever is stored in the dB -- that is something *very* useful.  This could, probably, be extended to be even more flexible -- why not generating an XML doc out of the dB, applying an XSL stylesheet to it and then generating an HTML/RTF/PDF/whatever representation?  One step in that direction could be making sure that all of the generated validate against XHTML TR...

21: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by David Kuczek on

"I'd say that a properly handled textarea could be a lot more flexible than that." ... I also think so. There surely are a lot of designers using dreamweaver etc. but there will also be beginners and designers that just want to set up a certain amount of pages and use consistent style sheets etc. so that everything looks professional from the very beginning. The ability to define the input content by what it is supposed to represent and not by how it is supposed to be displayed is another pro for a textarea input. At least when you pre define classes that represent the different parts of a content page.


22: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by Windell Dubois on
Has anyone seen htmlArea version 3.0 Beta?  It includes some nice features, Im gonna try to integrate it to etp on my test page, and if I can make it work, I may post a how-to later on.

This thread has been rather interesting, lets keep on brainstorming!!!!


23: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 1)
Posted by Don Baccus on
HTMLarea has already been integrated with the richtext widget for the form builder, see this thread:

I'm not sure when Lars intends to commit it but I think the plan is to officially support it for 5.1.

24: Re: WYSIWYG editor... (response to 23)
Posted by Lars Pind on
Yes, it'll be in HEAD as soon as I find the time to clean it up. Have a few other half-finished little things sitting in my checkout.