[whatwg] Authoring Re: several messages about HTML5

Adrian Sutton adrian.sutton at ephox.com
Wed Feb 21 14:15:42 PST 2007

> I am therefore devoting a lot of my time into developing a
> new kind of authoring environment that combines a semantic view with
> a wysiwyg view, and which will use dictionaries to generate the
> markup that few of us can be bothered to write directly.

As someone who writes a WYSIWYG HTML editor for a living - I wish you the very best of luck, you're going to need it. Writing an editor is one of those problems that seems really easy until you get into it, then it starts looking hard. You get through that and ship it to users and they love it and you pat yourself on the back. After about six months of solid usage users have worked with the editor enough to start getting frustrated about its quirks, limitations and bugs and the complaints start pouring in. Then you *really* understand how big the challenge is.

I don't say that to deter you - I'm actually very keen to see what you come up with. The main message to take out of this is that you have to pay attention to and get right the very smallest details because they all make a very big difference to users. When people get into writing they want to focus purely on what they are writing and they don't want to have to think for a second about how the authoring tool they are using wants them to work. If you want the tool to succeed you will need to solve the keyboard shortcut problems - they are vital, you will also need to make sure that whatever interface you come up with to try and get users to create semantic mark up doesn't require them to think about it. If you haven't already, you will come to learn that users think visually and they are and probably will always be more interested in their content looking good right there in front of them than on it being all nice and semantic. To succeed you will need to leverage this by making the content look best right there in front of them when it is semantic.

You also need to realize that users are very, very picky. Expect to devote many years reviewing and refining the basic functionality of your editor - stick to the minimum of functionality and get it into the hands of real users doing real work as much as possible. Then use the feedback from them (carefully because they will change their views after using the tool for a period of time) to drive new features and improvements to the way the editor works.

Best of luck with it. I'm definitely interested in keeping track of the project.


Adrian Sutton. 

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