In Search of a Lightweight WYSIWYG Client

By Deane Barker

I’m interested in finding a nice, lightweight, WYSIWYG HTML editor for use by non-developers. In this scenario, as I’m sure you know, is not having too little functionality, but having too much. I haven’t found one yet that I’m comfortable unleashing on non-developer content editors.

How about FrontPage or Dreamweaver, you say? Dreamweaver is too complicated for the average editor to grasp. Yes, I know it makes perfect to HTML jockeys, but it’s not for the faint-of-heart. FrontPage is simpler, but I’ve found it gives the user too much rope. They end up with more than enough to hang themselves.

Contribute from Macromedia comes close. It’s a scaled-down version of Dreamweaver, but it’s not problem-free. It requires some voodoo to get it up and running and I didn’t find that it was easy to edit file system-based files. Contribute is at its best when used on a site managed by a geek with a copy of Dreamweaver.

Surprisingly, Mozilla Composer – part of the Mozilla Suite – is very good. Not quite perfect, but it’s clean and simple. However, you have to have the whole Mozilla shindig to use it. I hope they break it off into its own product.

What I’m looking for is a WYSIWYG editor with which I could let a user edit a pre-created site. Using some strategic rewrite rules, a limited FTP account, and php_append and php_prepend files, you could very easily build a nice, maintainable site that handles all the common elements of the page, leaving just the “content valley” to be managed by a content editor with a lightweight WYSIWYG client.

Now if I could just find the right one. Any recommendations?

Update: One last requirement: the client needs to be page-centric. Too many HTML editors drift off into concepts of “the Site” or “the Web.” I want one that is concerned pretty much solely with the page that’s currently loaded into it, and doesn’t try to wrap its arms around the entire Web site at once.

This is item #297 in a sequence of 356 items.

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