November 5, 2006

Rich Text support in Drupal

Filed under: CMS, Drupal, open source, PHP — Prateek @ 15:02

First and foremost, i will make it clear that I am a drupal fan. I have used it on a couple of sites and was taken away by the simplicity and ease of use. Things I appreciate most in drupal are is simple admin interface and the ease to add extensions. The themes are gorgeous!

Now the bad part… May be the only thing I do not like is its failure to support rich text editing. Not that it feels incomplete without it, its just that a lot of my users had been craving for this feature lately. I was wondering why it did not come built-in with this feature… Lately, I read about the ongoing debate on whether drupal should include this feature or not… or if yes, then in what form?

I do not want to get involved in this debate, as there is heavy fire going on from both sides. What I would express here is my own opinion only. Drupal developers have a genuine reason when they say that none of the open-source options are stable and they do not want to introduce instability in the distribution. Moreover, this will bloat the distribution, which is remarkably small compared to its features. Both perfectly valid.

The same developers claim that its blog is its killing feature. And indeed, the integration of blog and other fundamental features of drupal are extremely well integrated. But a blog without aesthetics is not very nice. Compare it with wordpress, or even blogger.com. All offer basic rich text editing within blog posts. Why should drupal users be deprived of his feature? I cannot ask my users to learn tags etc just for blogging? They are familiar with MS Word and its clones. Why should the learning curve be so steep. I do not want to scare away my clients.

So, what is the solution? I propose that one should suggest using a WYSIWYG editor for blogs, which runs as a browser plugin. Something like performancing but with few tweaks. User must be able to select when he wants to use it or keep the text plain. Maybe, when the focus is in textarea, user can right click and select “Edit using rich text editor”. The text area becomes disabled and a rich text editor firs up and it takes the current text as input and allows wysiwyg editing. One user has finished adding stuff, he closes the editor and the editor converts all its stuff into html code within the textarea. Not just drupal, all the blogging tools will benefit from it. It need not be bundled with drupal and its roadmap may be different from drupal’s. This way, drupal developers will not be scared away by unstable code and users will not be scared away by the formatting tags.

But the big question is: will the users install a tool just to start blogging? I believe that they will, if they love blogging so much!

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