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Rich-Text Editors for 2010 and Beyond

Rich-Text Editors, inline content editors, WYSIWYG editors – or whatever you want to call them – are web applications that enable users to enter, edit and manipulate alphanumeric characters while visiting your website. Wherever you have a <textarea> form input on your site, chances are good that its usability could be improved with a Rich-Text Editor. For example, your comment form is a great place to provide users with the ability to customize their responses with a few clicks of the mouse.

RTEs help your visitors format and edit their web-based content by transforming an ordinary input field into a fully functional HTML editor. Rich-Text Editors for 2010 and Beyond By making it easy to markup and format content, Rich Text Editors provide an excellent way to improve the usability and “coolness” factor of your website. These editors can take your web design to the next level!

Even better is the fact that there are manyRTEs available, each with their own features, strengths and weaknesses. To help you sort through the many choices, here are 22 of the best Rich-Text Editors for 2010 and beyond.

1. TinyMCE

TinyMCE TinyMCE is a free, open-source Rich Text Editor (RTE) from Moxiecode Systems AB. It is lightweight and easy to customize via themes, plugins, and its own API. As a platform-independent web-based WYSIWYG editor, TinyMCE is easy to integrate into virtually any Content Management System.

Bottom line: TinyMCE is browser-friendly, lightweight, highly customizable and features tons of great community support.

2. FCKEditor

FCKEditor FCKeditor is a free, open-source RTE that has been around forever. It features image uploading, layout templates, valid code, Adobe AIR, custom styles, and much more. FCKeditor is perfect for table creation and can even clean up text pasted from Microsoft Word.

Bottom line: FCKeditor is highly customizable, fully accessible, well supported and very popular.

3. YUI Editor

YUI Editor The YUI Editor is included as part of the extensive Yahoo User-Interface Library (YUI). YUI Editor features valid XHTML, a growing number of plugins, decent documentation, great support for mobile devices, and even drag-n-drop inclusion and sizing of images. Plus, the YUI Editor’s toolbar is easily extensible for advanced and highly customized implementations.

Bottom line: the perfect RTE solution if you are already using the YUI Library.

4. NicEdit

NicEdit NicEdit is a lightweight, cross-platform Inline Content Editor (ICE) that focuses on usability and simplicity. The file size is extremely small, less than 10KB compressed, and can be served directly from the NicEdit website. Although the code may need some scrubbing to validate, the sheer compactness and ease of NicEdit makes it perfect for smaller projects and simple implementations.

Bottom line: NicEdit is a lightweight, good-looking RTE that makes it easy to convert any <textarea> or <div> into a robust Inline Content Editor.

5. Kupu

Kupu Kupu is an open-source RTE provided by OSCOM. Designed for easy integration into CMSs such as Silva and Plone, Kupu features Ajax content saving, clean cross-browser XHTML code, easy customization, and good extensibility. Unfortunately, the Kupu site seems to be down at the moment so we’ve linked to its Wikipedia page, but will hopefully be back online soon.

Bottom line: if you’re looking for a good “document-centric” RTE for your next project, Kupu may be the ideal choice.

6. Free Rich Text Editor

Free Rich Text Editor Free Rich Text Editor is a JavaScript-based HTMLWYSIWYG editor that provides robust rich-text editing, enabling users to format, preview and publish text, code, tables, images, and more. Free Rich Text Editor is ridiculously easy to use, requiring only three lines of code to integrate into any CMS or web application. Free Rich Text Editor enjoys a growing number of users and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 General License.

Bottom line: if you’re looking for drop-dead easy implementation, compliant (X)HTML source-code, and plenty of robust features, Free Rich Text Editor is an excellent choice.

7. WebWiz RichTextEditor

WebWiz RichTextEditor WebWiz RichTextEditor is a “try-before-you-buy” RTE that’s written in ASP, JavaScript, and DHTML. Despite its commercial aspect, WebWiz RichTextEditor has a lot going for it, including image/file uploading, built-in file browser, source-code editing, custom skins, and easy implementation. Bottom line: if you’re running a Windows server and need a heavy-duty WYSIWYG editor with all the trimmings, WebWiz RichTextEditor may be well worth the price.

8. XStandard

XStandard XStandard focuses on generation of squeaky-clean XHTML and delivers the goods via clean separation of structure, behavior, and presentation. Features of XStandard include great accessibility support, drag-&-drop file uploads, spell-checking, customizable image library, and much more. There are two versions available: XStandard Lite is free for commercial use, and XStandard Pro ranges in price but is available as a 30-day trial.

Available in 21 different languages. Bottom line: if you’re looking for a clean, standards-compliant RTE, check out XStandard.

9. Damn Small Rich Text Editor

Damn Small Rich Text Editor Damn Small Rich Text Editor is a jQuery-based RTE with a PHP backend. This free, lightweight text-editor features Ajax-powered image-uploading functionality, automatic HTML-cleanup, and robust extensibility via plugins and add-ons. Bottom line: Damn Small Rich Text Editor is extremely small (~18KB), but manages to include tons of great features, making it an excellent choice for your next project.

10. WidgEditor

WidgEditor WidgEditor is an open-source RTE by the Man in Blue, Cameron Adams. WidgEditor is a clean and simple RTE that degrades gracefully when JavaScript is not available on the browsing device. This means that your <textarea> will remain useful and beautiful for users without JavaScript.

Bottom line: if you’re looking for a simple, standards-based RTE for your web application or web page, WidgEditor may be just the ticket.

11. Kevin Roth’s Cross Browser Rich Text Editor

Kevin Roth’s Cross Browser Rich Text Editor Cross Browser Rich Text Editor is a free yet basic RTE that offers a few skinning choices and features XHTML-compliant code. Features include table support and good cross-browser compatibility. The “compressed-code” version of Cross Browser Rich Text Editor is released under a Creative Commons License, and the uncompressed source code is available for around $40. Bottom line: styling this RTE has been reported to be a bit of a pain, but otherwise a solid RTE that is worth checking out.


OpenWYSIWYG OpenWYSIWYG is a free, open-source RTE that comes equipped with many awesome features, including robust HTML content-editing, user-friendly table creation, and great cross-browser compatibility. OpenWYSIWYG is easy to implement, loads extremely fast, and requires no server-side code. Bottom line: OpenWYSIWYG is an excellent choice for many CMS-based applications.

Highly recommended.

13. CodePlex Rich Text Editor

CodePlex Rich Text Editor CodePlex Rich Text Editor is an ASP.NET-based RTE that is designed to simplify and consolidate the implementation process as much as possible, requiring the developer to simply place a single dll file into the bin directory. Even though the code output is far from standards-compliant, CodePlex is cross-browser compatible and features numerous styles, commands, text-views, and multiple language support. Bottom line: the UI is a little funky and only supports Internet Explorer and Firefox, but even so, the CodePlex RTE seems like a good choice for simple, pain-free ASP.NET-based implementations.

14. FreeTextBox

FreeTextBox FreeTextBox is a highly popular ASP.NET-based RTE that is packed with great features, including a robust, easily customized JavaScript API, integrated image gallery, spell-checking, and complete control over the creation of tables, lists and other complex markup elements. Bottom line: for ASP.NET projects, it just doesn’t get any better than FreeTextBox.

15. Silverlight Rich Text Editor

Silverlight Rich Text Editor Silverlight Rich Text Editor is a highly useful RTE designed to work with Microsoft’s Silverlight. Although the project is currently orphaned by the original developer, Silverlight Rich Text Editor provides many excellent features, including <sup>/<sub> formatting, homogeneous underlining of multi-font-selections, blockquotes, unordered lists, block alignment, insertion of custom framework elements, secure content serialization, find-&-replace with regular expressions, clipboard support for formatted text, integrated scroll viewer, custom design, macros and much more. Bottom line: if you’re using Silverlight and need a robust RTE, look no further!

16. BXE (Bitflux Editor)

BXE (Bitflux Editor) BXE (Bitflux Editor) is an open-source (since 2002!) XML-based WYSIWYG that enables users to edit entire web pages. BXE is strongly supported by a loyal community of designers and developers who help make BXE one of the best content editors available on the Web. BXE uses XML, XSLT, and CSS for rendering, and features support for tables, lists, images, special characters, clipboard, undo/redo, and more.

Note that the BXE site provides several “demo” links, but none seem to be working at this time – hopefully this will be resolved soon. Bottom line: reportedly one of the finest WYSIWYG editors available – definitely worth checking out.

17. MarkItUp!

MarkItUp! markItUp! is a free, open-source RTE built on the jQuery JavaScript library. markItUp!

makes it easy to transform any (X)HTML<textarea> into a robust, fully-functional WYSIWYG content editor. Features include lightweight file size, keyboard shortcuts, Ajax-powered live-preview, standards-based code output, and great cross-browser compatibility. Supports many different markup systems, including HTML, Textile, Wiki Syntax, Markdown, BBcode or even your own custom markup system.

Bottom line: markItUp! is a lightweight, customizable, and flexible universal markup editor that is perfect for blogs, CMSs, forums, websites, and just about everything in-between.  This can be great to use for a ton of websites in varying industries, such as a hotel using the CMS wordpress.

18. Dijit Editor for Dojo

Dijit Editor for Dojo Dojo’s Dijit Editor is a robust, full-featured RTE built on the popular Dojo JavaScript framework. Referred to as a “text box on steroids,” the Dijit Editor is designed to look and function like a typical word processor. The Dijit Editor features a toolbar, clean HTML output, plugin architecture, fresh buttons, and plenty of other great features.

Bottom line: with all of the other Rich-Text Editors available these days, the Dijit Editor may not be enough to justify adoption of Dojo, but for those already using it, the Dijit Editor should be at the top of your list.

19. EditArea

EditArea EditArea is a free, open-source code editor that makes it easy for your users to share and format virtually any type of code from within the comfort of your website’s submission form. Features include easy integration, clean source-code output, real-time syntax highlighting, auto-indentation, multilanguage support, multiple instances, full-screen mode, and much more. Bottom line: EditArea is easy to implement and customize and provides all you need for beautiful, well-formatted source code.

20. WYMeditor

WYMeditor WYMeditor is a free, open-source, web-based (X)HTMLWYSIWYM editor that boasts strong adherence of Web Standards and valid markup. Everything outputted by WYMeditor is clean and valid (X)HTML Strict, so you can be rest assured that your source code is squeaky clean. As it says on the website, “WYMeditor’s main concept is to leave details of the document’s visual layout, and to concentrate on its structure and meaning, while trying to give the user as much comfort as possible (at least as WYSIWYG editors).” Bottom line: WYMeditor is widely supported, easy to use, and the best solution for “perfectly structured” (X)HTML source code.

21. Whizzywig

Whizzywig Whizzywig is another free, open-source, JavaScript-based RTE that features easy implementation and configuration, multiple languages, text-color modification, customized user-interface, and much more. Features include cross-browser support, web-safe color picker, table support, image support, MS-Word clean-up, code editor, spell-checker, plus tons more. Bottom line: Whizzywig is a lightweight yet powerful RTE that looks decent in just about any browser.

22. Xinha

Xinha Last but not least, Xinha is a free, community-developed open-source HTML editor available under BSD license. Built with JavaScript, Xinha is easy to implement, feature-rich, and highly extensible. Xinha functions properly in all modern browsers and its extensibility makes it perfectly suited for virtually any project.

Bottom line: if you’re looking for a solid, community-supported RTE that is highly flexible and extensible, Xinha is an excellent choice.

What’s your favorite RTE?

With so many excellent Rich-Text Editors available on the Web today, designers and developers have everything they need to setup the best possible RTE for virtually any project. There are indeed many to choose from, but you can help others by sharing your experiences and opinions about the various RTEs reviewed in the article.

Which one is your favorite? Any bad or good experiences with any particular RTE? Know of any good editors that weren’t mentioned in the article? Chime in!

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