WYSIWYG improvements are on the way

Today we want to give you a little peek at some improvements that are coming soon to the LightCMS system. Since these changes involve the WYSIWYG editor, which affects nearly every user on the system, we wanted to give you lots of advanced notice so you have time to prepare your own clients for what is in store.

The WYSIWYG editor is the interface you see when you edit a text element, blog post, calendar event, or any other rich text area on a LightCMS website. We are constantly working on ways to improve this interface. We have received tons of feedback from many of you and that feedback has informed our own discussions as well.

We currently have a plan in place to make significant improvements to how the WYSIWYG interface works. We are really excited about these changes as we know they are going to greatly improve the functionality of the system while exponentially increasing its ease-of-use for you and your clients. These changes are going to be rolled out in phases to help smooth the transition. Today, I’d like to share with you what we have in store for phase one.

Simplifying the toolbars

In this first phase, we intend to simplify and improve the editor’s toolbar, making it less cluttered and easier to understand. We will accomplish this in two ways.

First, we will be collapsing the toolbar into a single row and adding a “show more” button to allow the user to expand out additional tools as needed. Along with this, we will rearrange some of the toolbar buttons so that the top row of the toolbar houses the simpler tools, while additional rows house the more advanced functions. Therefore, when the user loads up the editor, they will be presented with a much more streamlined and simplified view with a single row of toolbar buttons. By clicking the “show more” button, they can access the more advanced tools as needed.

In a future phase, we plan to add the ability for you as the LightCMS account holder to control whether or not your clients and users can access the “show more” button. If you turn off the advanced tools for a particular website, users of that website will only have access to the simple tools when editing content. This will enable you to more tightly control what clients can do to the content on a website. However, in our first phase, everyone will have access to both the simple and advanced tools.

The second initiative we’ll be taking in phase one is removing or changing a few of the toolbar buttons. These changes are outlined in detail below and are intended to reduce clutter, prepare for future phases and, in some cases, to bring the functionality more up to date with common practices. We know that removing options may impact you and your clients and so we don’t take these changes lightly. But, after much discussion and consideration, we are confident that the changes outlined below are an important step in our plan for improvement.

The new toolbars

We don’t have actual screenshots of the new toolbar layout just yet, so here’s a look at the current toolbar. Please use the numbers next to each button for reference as I describe the changes we’ll be making below.

toolbar_current

Simple tools (row 1) on the new toolbar will include:

  • Bold (1)
  • Italic (2)
  • Align left (4)
  • Align center (5)
  • Align right (6)
  • Numbered list (11)
  • Bulleted list (12)
  • Image manager (13)
  • Docs manager (14)
  • Insert video (new, see below)
  • Add link (17)
  • Remove link (18)

Advanced tools on the new toolbar will include:

  • Heading chooser (22)
  • Apply CSS (23)
  • Font size (24)
  • Font color (25)
  • Indent (9)
  • Outdent (10)
  • Undo (31)
  • Redo (32)
  • Horizontal Rule (35)
  • Find and Replace (33)
  • Spell Checker (26)
  • Table manager (19)
  • Symbols (20)
  • Flash manager (16)
  • Module manager (36)
  • Full screen (21)

New tools

As you can see above, there is one new toolbar button we’ll be adding. We call it the “insert video” tool. This tool will simply pop up a text area into which the user can paste the embed code for a hosted video player from sites such as YouTube and Blip.tv.

Another new feature of the editor isn’t actually a toolbar button, but a built-in behavior. The new editor will automatically treat all content that is pasted into the editing window as plain text. This not only solves the issue of users bringing in unwanted formatting from outside sources, but also eliminates the need for the multiple format stripping tools that currently exist on the editor.

Tools to be removed

You may notice that some of our existing tools will no longer appear on the editor. The following is a list of the tools that currently exist but won’t be a part of the new editor:

  • Insert paragraph (34) – this tool is fairly redundant since you can create a new paragraph in the editor by pressing the enter key. We also have more improvements in the way the editor handles markup including paragraphs in store for future phases.
  • Format strippers and “paste as” tools (27-30) – as mentioned above, these tools will be replaced by default behavior that forces all pasted-in content to be pasted as plain text.
  • Strike through, Justify and Remove Alignment (3, 7, 8) – these lesser-used tools will be removed to reduce clutter on the simple editing toolbar.
  • Media manager (15) – this tool does not function effectively and so it is being replaced by two things. First, the new “insert video” tool mentioned above will provide a more effective and current way for users to include video content on their site. Second, if the user wishes to upload media files to their site, they can do so using the document manager tool.

Launch schedule

The changes described in this post are what we are calling our “phase one” changes. The launch of phase one is tentatively scheduled for the week of March 1st, likely on Wednesday or Thursday of that week. We will be following up with more specifics as we near the time of the launch, but we wanted to give you this information now to give you as much time as possible to prepare for this change.

Much more to come

This is only the beginning. We have additional plans already in the works for further improvements to the WYSIWYG interface on LightCMS. We know you are going to love what’s coming. The launch of phase one simply paves the way for future improvements. We appreciate your patience and support through this process and we work to continually improve LightCMS.

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