« Win Adobe software at the Boston CFUG's Open Mic Night | Main | Links to last night's Boston CFUG Open Mic presentations and Adobe software winner »

WYSIWYG editor for wikis

Have you ever entered content into a wiki using the Wikitext markup language? Wikitext was created with the goal of being simpler to write than HTML. That may be so, but that still doesn't make it easy, especially the first time you try to use it, and especially if you're a non-technical user. So what should you do if you want your user base, all of whom are decidedly not technical, to actually start using the wiki you created for them instead of ignoring it because they don't want to bother learning a markup language themselves?

That's the question we had to ask ourselves at work as we configured a wiki for our sales team, who, while a nice bunch of folks, isn't going to learn the wikitext markup specification just to make us in the operations team feel happy. Luckily, we found a better way to let sales enter content content into our wiki.

What we found was a version of FCKeditor called MediaWiki+FCKeditor. It's a MediaWiki plugin which enables a WYSIWYG editor when someone edits a wiki page. To install the editor, you have to copy the project files to your plugins folder, and change a couple of configuration settings. Unfortunately, this still doesn't make the WYSIWYG editor the default-- you'll still see the regular wikitext editor, and you'll have a link which will let you switch over to the new editor:


What we really needed was for the WYSIWYG editor to appear immediately when someone clicked on the edit link. Short of altering the PHP code for our whole wiki, I just added the following JavaScript to the page which does the same thing. It happens so fast that the user never notices that the editor changes.

<script language="JavaScript">
if(document.getElementById('wpTextbox1')) { // If the page is in edit mode
	ToggleFCKEditor('toggle', 'wpTextbox1'); // Call the rich-text editor automatically

Once that code's in place, you see the FCKeditor that your users may already know and will definitely love:


Comments (5)

What about http://markitup.jaysalvat.com/home/ ? This one seems much better suited for the task of Markup. Wiki is by nature markup and not WYSIWYG.

@John, markItUp does seem to be a handy markup editor. Putting a toolbar at the top makes editing quite a bit easier. But, a non-WYSIWYG editor still wouldn't achieve the goal I was trying to reach of making wiki content management so easy that our sales staff would spend their valuable time on it. If I put raw markup in front of them, even in an editor like markItUp where they just had to click a button to insert wiki formatting, they wouldn't be able to read their own content and would abandon the site.

And I would argue your point about how a "Wiki is by nature markup and not WYSIWYG." That's not true-- there are two layers to all content on the web: markup and presentation. When you browse a wiki, you don't see wikitext; you see formatted content. So why can't there be an wikitext editor which shows you formatted content but saves wikitext in the markup layer? I don't see the problem, at least for end users. If you're saying that a developer should write straight wikitext in order to understand what they're doing and to use all elements of the language, I'd agree with you. But for end users, a WYSIWYG editor makes a site worth using.

I'm using the Xinha-Addon for Firefox. By activating the "raw HTML" option in the engines it allows working with html-tags in firsthand.

But i like yours aswell. Very Comfortabel.

Why doesnt WIkipedia already use FCK for itself?

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.