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Choosing The Right Craft CMS Wysiwyg Editor

10 min read
Choosing The Right Craft CMS Wysiwyg Editor

Selecting the best WYSIWYG editor is crucial for a smooth Craft CMS content creation experience. But with so many options, making the ideal choice can be overwhelming. This guide cuts through the confusion with specific criteria, comparisons, and customization tips to help you pick the perfect editor for your needs. Gain the insights needed to avoid buyer's remorse and build a tailored editing environment your team will love.

Choosing the right WYSIWYG editor for Craft CMS requires comparing features, customization, performance, and long-term support across leading options like Redactor, CKEditor, and Summernote. Carefully evaluate must-have capabilities, extensibility, security, accessibility, documentation, and pricing to select the optimal editor aligned with your budget and needs.

Comparing Leading WYSIWYG Editor Options for Craft CMS

Redactor Editor Overview and Comparison

Redactor is a premium WYSIWYG editor for Craft CMS that stands out for its polished, robust feature set. It provides extensive inline formatting tools, intuitive media handling for images and videos, table generation, and code view for direct HTML editing.

Redactor shines in its overall usability and stability, aided by its premium status. The interface is smooth and intuitive even for complex options, and performance remains snappy even with large amounts of content. This makes Redactor a great choice for more advanced websites where the editing experience is a priority. The robust features also appeal to developers and clients who want granular control over the editor's capabilities.

Of course, there are some potential downsides as well. Being a paid plugin, Redactor requires a yearly fee after the initial purchase which can limit adoption for budget-conscious users. The extensive features may also feel overly complex for simpler content editing needs. Compared to open source options, Redactor lacks the range of free community-driven plugin extensions.

So while powerful, Redactor may be overkill for simpler websites or those needing to watch costs closely. But for projects where a polished and customizable editing experience is critical, Redactor remains one of the premier WYSIWYG editor options for Craft CMS.

CKEditor Editor Overview and Comparison

CKEditor is a highly capable open source WYSIWYG editor used widely with Craft CMS. As an open source tool, CKEditor benefits from constant development contributions which expand its features and capabilities over time. It provides all the expected formatting features like bold, italics, links, and media embedding in an interface familiar to most content editors.

One major advantage is the availability of over 500 free community-provided plugins that customize and extend the editor's capabilities for niche needs. For example, advanced media handling, specialized formatting options, accessibility tools, and API integrations can all be added through plugins. This open and flexible plugin architecture is a key benefit for developers needing to craft a custom editing experience.

Of course, being open source means CKEditor lacks some of the polish and reliability of paid commercial options. The interface may not be as intuitive out-of-the-box compared to premium editors. There is typically more setup and optimization required to smooth out performance and stability issues, especially when utilizing a wide range of plugins.

So CKEditor may not provide the most seamless turnkey experience. Yet for many, the extensive free features and customization potential outweigh the rougher edges. For simpler needs or constrained budgets, CKEditor remains an appealing choice as a free and capable WYSIWYG editor for Craft CMS implementations.

Summernote Editor Overview and Comparison

Summernote is an open source WYSIWYG editor optimized for simplicity and ease-of-use. It provides basic formatting features like bold, italics, links and lists in a clean and distraction-free interface. The limited features and intuitive UI make Summernote very beginner-friendly for casual users who may be overwhelmed by the full toolsets of CKEditor or Redactor.

Summernote also benefits from fast performance and smoothness when editing. The stripped down approach can be easier for users to grasp compared to navigating a vast array of options.

However, Summernote's simplicity does mean more advanced capabilities are lacking. Features like tables, media embedding, and granular formatting options are not included out-of-the-box.

The availability of plugins and extensions is also more limited compared to CKEditor. So while the minimalist approach has advantages, it may feel too restrictive for power users or complex site builds. The cleaner interface also lacks some of the visual cues and prompts that aid discoverability in more full-featured editors.

In summary, Summernote fills an important niche as a simpler WYSIWYG editor optimized for beginners. For content editors that only need basic formatting capabilities, Summernote provides a fast and distraction-free experience. However, evaluating if its streamlined toolset can serve long-term needs is important. For complex content and formatting requirements, the advanced capabilities of solutions like CKEditor or Redactor may prove necessary.

Criteria for Selecting the Right WYSIWYG Editor for Your Needs

Must-Have Features and Functionality

Selecting a WYSIWYG editor for a Craft CMS website involves carefully evaluating the features and functionality needed to fulfil your content creation requirements. At a minimum, the editor should provide versatile text formatting options like bold, italics, headings, lists, links, and block quotes. Handling images and other media is also essential - at bare minimum inserting images, but ideally also embedding video/audio, image cropping and resizing capabilities.

Other key features to consider are:

  • Tables: For structured data and layouts.

  • Code view: For editing HTML/CSS directly.

  • Undo/redo: For easy corrections while editing.

  • Special character insertion: For symbols, emojis, etc.

  • Alignment tools: For controlling text and element alignment.

  • Copy/paste from Word: To retain formatting.

  • Keyboard shortcuts: For efficient editing without mouse.

Additional advanced capabilities like collaboration tools, version control, automated SEO suggestions, and AI writing assistance can provide nice-to-have extras for robust websites. But focus first on ensuring the core formatting and content insertion tools are covered.

Evaluate if the editor provides sufficient tools on its own or if plugins/extensions are needed.

Factor in the availability, quality and cost of plugins - a robust plugin ecosystem can greatly expand an editor's capabilities. Prioritize must-have features, but consider nice-to-have capabilities that may be beneficial long-term.

Customization and Extensibility

Given the central role the WYSIWYG editor plays in content creation, customizability is hugely important.

Some key aspects to evaluate:

  • Theming/Styling: Can the editor appearance be tailored via CSS to match your brand?

  • Interface Options: Are options like toolbar buttons and dropdowns customizable?

  • Plugins/Extensions: What extensibility options are available to expand capabilities?

  • Developer Docs/API: Are developer customization docs available if needed?

  • Templating: Can output markup be configured for consistency?

Ideally the editor offers customization without needing to edit core source code. Configuring toolbar options, styling and available buttons/dropdowns via config allows fine-tuning the editing experience for your workflows.

For advanced custom needs, extensibility via plugins, templating and API access is key. Having guides and docs accelerates building custom functionality.

Overall, assess how easily the editor can adapt to your specific needs versus forcing a rigid out-of-box experience.

Performance, Security and Accessibility

An editor can have all the right features, but ultimately the performance, security and accessibility experience determines day-to-day usability.

Performance is critical - the editor must feel snappy and responsive when typing and applying formatting. Laggy performance severely impacts editing efficiency. Test the editor with long, complex content to spot any slowdowns.

Security is equally important - you want robust protection against cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities while editing. The editor should proactively sanitize and validate content as it gets inserted. Having regular security updates and fixes is essential.

Accessibility should also be considered - evaluating if the editor provides ARIA tags, keyboard navigation, screen reader support and is compliant with standards like WCAG 2.1. This ensures equitable access for users with disabilities.

For open source options, be mindful that performance and security testing may fall more on the user compared to commercial counterparts. Factor in the need to proactively audit code and stay on top of dependency updates.

While not as exciting to assess as features, these technical considerations have an enormous impact on real-world editor experience. Prioritizing performance, security and accessibility ensures benefits beyond just functionality.

Cost, Documentation and Support

The final key criteria revolve around long-term sustainability - evaluating cost, documentation quality, and availability of support.

For commercial editors like Redactor, factor in the yearly subscription cost after initial purchase. Is the pricing appropriate for your budget and needs?

For open source options like CKEditor or Summernote, evaluate required development resources. Is your team prepared to work without official support and documentation if issues arise?

Ideally, you want sufficient documentation to get up and running, configure features, and build custom integrations. Video tutorials and demos are a plus.

Official technical support and community forums are also beneficial to get questions answered. Having accessible support resources saves time over solving issues fully internally.

Weigh the cost against the value - a paid editor like Redactor can provide greater reliability and polish. But free open source options offer customization flexibility and avoid recurring costs. Take a holistic view on cost beyond just the initial price tag.

Overall, selecting the ideal WYSIWYG editor depends heavily on your specific needs and priorities. Consider all these criteria like features, customization, performance, cost and support when making the right choice for your website and use case. Evaluating editors in detail ensures you pick the optimal blend of functionality, flexibility and usability.

Implementing and Configuring the Editor in Craft CMS

Installing and Integrating the Editor

Once you've selected your preferred WYSIWYG editor for Craft CMS, it's time to set it up. The exact installation method depends on the editor, but generally follows these steps:

  1. Obtain the editor plugin if using a 3rd party option like CKEditor or Summernote. For Craft's native Redactor editor, no separate installation is needed.

  2. Upload and install the editor plugin according to the documentation. For plugins from the Craft Plugin Store, you can install directly from the Craft admin CP.

  3. Configure the plugin settings like the editor language, theme and toolbar buttons. Enable the plugin to integrate it into Craft.

  4. In your Craft site config settings, set the chosen editor plugin as the Primary Rich Text Editor. This makes it available to all Rich Text fields site-wide.

  5. You may need to further configure Craft's text parsing settings if integrating a non-Redactor plugin. Adjust textFormatters and purifier config as needed.

  6. Test creating an entry or other content with Rich Text fields to confirm the editor is working as expected before launch.

Some common issues like broken styling or images not uploading properly can occur during integration. Check the plugin documentation and support forums to troubleshoot. For optimal results, use the editor's latest stable version and verify Craft CMS's requirements and compatibility.

Configuring and Customizing the Editor

With the editor installed, it's time to tailor the editing experience. Here are some key customization and configuration steps:

  • Toolbar setup: Determine which formatting buttons, tools and menu options are needed in the toolbar. Remove unnecessary clutter.

  • Keyboard shortcuts: Enable or customize keyboard shortcuts for efficiency.

  • ** Typography**: Choose font sizes, fonts, colors and formatting presets.

  • Embeds: Configure preferred embed codes from YouTube, Twitter, Google Maps etc.

  • Media uploads: Adjust image quality, resize options, allowed types.

  • Code view: Choose between raw HTML vs a tidier formatted representation.

  • Paste from Word: Configure cleansing and formatting preservation.

  • Tables: Adjust table styles, formatting options, and defaults.

  • Accessibility: Ensure ARIA roles, keyboard support, screen reader capability.

Take time to learn all high-impact configuration options, and optimize them for your content workflows. Preview how staff will experience content creation during this process.

For further customization, utilize theming support, Templating, and API access if provided. This allows crafting fine-tuned experiences, like enforcing site style guides.

Managing Editor Users, Roles and Permissions

Most editor plugins provide user management capabilities that should be leveraged. Key features to configure:

  • User accounts: Create individual accounts to track activity and assign permissions.

  • Roles: Define roles like "Editor", "Marketer" or "Admin" with granular permissions.

  • CRUD controls: Limit access to create, read, update or delete content by role.

  • Asset permissions: Restrict which image folders and media users can access.

  • Visibility settings: Hide toolbar buttons and UI based on user role.

Take time to properly setup users, roles, content/asset permissions and visibility. This allows enforcing security policies and prevents inappropriate changes.

Audit permissions over time as new staff join or as processes evolve. Keeping user accounts and privileges aligned with actual needs improves security.

With robust user configuration, you can ensure every team member has precisely the capabilities needed for their editing tasks. This improves productivity while securing content integrity.

Optimizing the Content Editing Workflow and Experience

Collaboration and Communication

Optimizing collaboration and communication is key for multi-editor workflows in Craft CMS. The editor itself can provide built-in features to enable transparency and coordination, such as comments for discussions, version histories to rollback changes, draft status to indicate incomplete work, and notifications to alert other editors of updates. Tools for assigning content ownership, live previews of changes, and change tracking by user further improve awareness of all activity.

Supplementing editor capabilities with external tools can further enhance team alignment. Editorial calendars allow planning and scheduling upcoming content in advance. Established style guides and markup conventions ensure consistency between creators. Shared asset management systems make finding and using approved media easier. Instant chat tools like Slack facilitate rapid real-time discussions if questions arise mid-edit.

With the editor seamlessly facilitating versioning, comments, previews and notifications, combined with process tools for planning, guidelines and chat, teams can work together efficiently with much greater transparency than traditional workflows.

Structured Templates and Consistent Markup

Leveraging templates and encouraging consistent markup are other optimization best practices for the editing experience. Pre-defined entry templates allow editors to start from ideal structured layouts for different content types, rather than facing a blank page. Global reusable elements provide pre-approved chunks of markup for headers, footers, and other commonly repeated components.

Configuring allowed markup output promotes consistency - for example, restricting headings to H2 rather than allowing arbitrary H1 use. Formal style guides further unify voice, word choices, formatting rules, and preferred terminology. Together these approaches provide structured foundations for productivity - editors don't waste creative effort deciding how to organize content or memorizing formatting minutiae. They can focus efforts on optimizing messaging and presentation within established templates and guidelines.

Organization, Findability and Content Migration

Even the best content is useless if teams cannot find and reuse it efficiently. Optimizing organization, taxonomy, metadata and migrations is crucial for long-term productivity.

Descriptive titles, slugs, categories and tags help content stand out within the CMS for easy discovery. Detailed metadata and alt text improve visibility in search engines. Interlinking related content via backlinks provides trails to follow.

Thoughtful information architecture and section/entry organization ensure intuitive findability over time. When migrating legacy content, tools that automate transferring metadata, URLs and links are hugely beneficial. They retain search rankings and site structure while improving organization.

By auditing and enhancing titles, metadata and tagging, then carefully migrating content, teams sustain findability. This minimizes duplicated efforts and ensures existing assets remain valuable. With purposeful taxonomy, architecture and migrations, editors can always locate relevant content for inspiration or repurposing.

Shape April 2022 HR 202
Andy Golpys
- Author

Andy has scaled multiple businesses and is a big believer in Craft CMS as a tool that benefits both Designer, Developer and Client. 

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