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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

tiny mce is what i'm writing this in now. It sems to be not letting my standard inbrowser spell checker work so please excuse the por english.

tiny mce took ages to load in my browser and it didn't work on my ipod or android device.

on the desktop it tempts and invites me do stuff like this which as we all know our tutors love to do, but at the end of the day creates a terrible user experience for learners.

READ THIS ITS IMPORTANT!!!

It can also leave you in a bit of a pickel when you try and turn off the styles you just applied but cannot, it might actually be as bad as ms word (sobs a bit) sad

 

anyway...(changes to html mode, removes inline css etc...) our tutors find it a pain in the ass and i can see why.

Consuming web content these days is pretty cool. We use things like rss readers, readability and currents to transform barely ledgeble content into something we enjoy reading - however you styled it.

Creating content on the web these days is pretty cool - facebook, twitter, wordpress and google plus don't even give the content creator the choice to make it all artistic/illegible and people happily except that.

Evernote, gmail, social media and many other webapps have moved away from the legacy clutter of tinymce - taken that dicison to use comic sans away from the content creator, and like wordpress and others they leave the display of content down to the cms theme or users choice - which aids both accessability usability and readability in a huge way, while also putting less crud cdata in the database.

To our customers consistancy and readability is important. We don't want to keep teaching the content creators how to use a rich text editor 'the right way' we just need one that dosn't make them think - like gmail or evernote.

That sn't tinymce - no matter how much of an 'industry standard' it might have been in the late part of last decade.

 

I don't expect this to happen when i'm reading an article in a book, on the bbc/guardian or even an email so how can it happen in my online learning/moodle?

So sod all this legacy stuff, lets get a bit modern with moodle and use something that works on mobile and everything down to ie8 like http://html5demos.com/contenteditable

 

http://xing.github.com/wysihtml5/ ?

 

 
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Picture of Danny Wahl
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Wow, for a moment I thought I was reading the 3x a week company newsletter.

Where everything is important!Wish I was kidding...  Maybe what's more important is training in usability- because people will always find a way to make stuff ugly ( ever see people typing stuff in paint and then posting that in Facebook for "presentation")

 
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Picture of Paul Nicholls
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

I'm with you on that one, Stuart.

I have two main points to make here:

  • Moodle 2.4 allows you to customise the TinyMCE toolbars, so you can remove the worst offenders
  • Since 2.something, editors are plugins (sitting in /lib/editor/) - so it should be reasonably straightforward to implement a new editor (such as WYSIHTML5, which looks like a good basic editor - though it seems to be lacking table support, which may or may not be an issue).  Of course, you'd also need to implement the Moodle-specific editor plugins, which might prove a bit trickier...

If/when I can find some time, if nobody has beaten me to it (please do!), I'll have a go at making a WYSIHTML5 editor plugin (or, if a better editor is found, one for that instead!).

Your post reminded me of this site, which was recently posted on Boing Boing.

 

-Paul

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

oh, nice nesting cheers for sharing Paul ;)

we removed the table options from our 1.9 editor in 2010 and to date from our 1500 tuors we have had 2 complaints.

 

 

 

 
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Picture of Joseph Thibault
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

I'd rather see a default simplification of Tinymce than a new text editor altogether.  Doesn't Wordpress use TinyMCE (see attached)?

The ability to add plugins directly to TinyMCE is huge (<-- for emphasis I might otherwise have chosen to make  that large, red, bold and a different font) for administrators) for users.  


 
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Picture of Paolo Oprandi
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

Sussex University considers itself a very typical Moodle user. We are a large organization with many non-expert content creators, aka tutors/academics. 

For these users it is really important to have an enjoyable and "don't make me think editor" html editor.

At Moodle Moot Dublin Stuart and I did a talk on Interface Design for Beautiful Moodle Courses

A central theme in our presentation was the importance of changing the interface to encourage users to add online text, images and videos - to create online learning content rather than an online learning repository for files to be opened offline. Obviously if you are going to encourage online content production you need a seductive editor.

We are also aware that one possible direction for the future of Moodle is inline editing of "labels", where a good editor is essential.

In our talk we asked "what if BBC pages were created using Moodle by our busy academics?" and we showed a screenshot with a load of resources to download and links to a forum rather than online content with comments.

Another screenshot we could have shown was one or more BBC pages with inconsistent headings, layout, font and colours.

The BBC does not allow its journalists to create pages in any style they like - inconsistent and copied from Word with all its weird formatting. They have standards which their technical systems do not allow them break (and admittedly they probably have the luxury of quality control). 

Most of our tutors just want to concentrate on delivering good quality learning materials. How it is formatted is not their focus or their strength.

A simple editor will improve:

  • the tutor's experience of creating Moodle courses
  • the student's experience of consuming the material
  • Moodle performance
  • and in time Moodle functionality, allowing inline editing and so on 

Is a cut down version of TinyMCE the answer?

Or are other editors more appropriate - for example, I like the Tumblr editor, although doesn't leave much room for semantic markup.

Tumblr editor

How many lines of code did you use in codepen mockup, Stuart? 50?

Maybe - just maybe - keeping the TinyMCE integration with Moodle will more expensive than adopting an html5 alternative.

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

And as has been pointed out Paolo, Stuart's mock up does not provide the power and facilities that SOME users need. My position in all of this has never been that we shouldn't find a better/lighter editor, but that the original proposition was to drop TinyMCE entirely without providing those tools for those who need them. (Maths/Chemistry have been identified, for me and the staff I support its the use of the TinyMCE Templates plugin, I'm sure there are others)

If the proposition was to find a better/lighter editor alongside TinyMCE, even as the default editor, with TinyMCE needing to be selected as a replacement/alternative as needed, then I think it would have a lot more support, but so far the only suggestion has been the need to drop TinyMCE altogether.

The attached screenshot is my TinyMCE editor that I intend to put live when we upgrade to 2.5 this summer (my current version looks similar but works slightly differently because of the changes in the way moodle works with TinyMCE plugins and the new TinyMCE settings page) - I added the pdw toolbar toggle plugin with Mauno's help and although I haven't finished sorting out exactly what icons are needed where exactly, or my developments that I would like to put in to have options for showing 1 (default), 2 or 3 (current toggle) and as such is a work in progress, I believe it does answer some of the issues that have been raised in the discussion:

1. It does provide a simpler interface for the majority of users by default

2. It retains the power of TinyMCE for those that need it

Build (or persuade someone to build) a workable simple (trivial?) html5 editor and get it put in moodle - Great!!! but as I have stated before in this thread several times, the idea that was initially put forward of dropping TinyMCE entirely, without being able to replace the features that some (even a small number) of users require should be thought about VERY carefully.

Richard


 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

Paolo,

While the premise that the Moodle interface could (and should) be improved is a good one I have several points:

1. That is not the original premise of this thread which is that TinyMCE should be dropped. In my opinion, and given the range of comments on this thread about the need for more than the basic features by a range of users, no suitable alternative has been proposed, just the continued point that that TinyMCE should be dropped in favour of a lightweight html5 editor.

2. The BBC may well have guidelines and even technical restrictions in place to govern the layout and style of their content - but would those guidelines work if applied across the entire television media industry (forget the entire media industry - or don't! - just try to apply those same BBC style and layout guides to the websites of Sky, CNN, The Times, The Sun, People Magazine, Linux Format magazine, and so on!)? If Moodle was created and applied solely to one institution, then applying those guidelines would be straightforward and would be built into core. But its not! Core Moodle has to be able to handle users from everything from Nursery schools through to Adult education and professional training. The same set of guidelines cannot be applied to a tool used by such a wide range of people - they have different needs and requirements.

3. Just like the contrived examples of over formatting in this thread, your BBC screenshot is also over contrived to make a point. It deliberately ignores the fact that the BBC site as shown in the screen shot could quite easily be duplicated in the existing Moodle tools - videos can be embedded directly into label content, as can links to other articles as Moodle pages or as other moodle courses, while the sidebar could be recreated in much the same way using an html block having embedded videos with links in a (dreaded!) table if required.

While the points being made in the presentation are excellent, they are let down by such contrived and unrealistic 'evidence'. Yes the page could be made the way you say and look as bad as that, but the available tools are very simple to use already to create something much better than your example without resorting to a completly new interface (although that may in fact be necessary - just not with that evidence). Can we get better ways of creating style guides into Moodle - I hope so! That would be amazing! Can we get a better, lighter editor as an alternative (maybe even as default) - again I hope so, Great!

Does the 'evidence', investigations and discussions so far support the original heading for this discussion of dropping TinyMCE - I strongly argue that it does not!

Now - personally I feel I have said enough (too much possibly) on this thread, I am repeating my opinions again and again and it is very apparent that some of us have different opinons - That is healthy in any community in my opinion, but at the same time, constant repetition of the same differences of opinon is not smile

I will continue to hope that Moodle does not drop TinyMCE unless another full powered alternative is found - while I will also continue to hope that a light weight, simple and mobile friendly editor can be found to work alongside it. And if Moodle does eventually drop TinyMCE from core (without a full replacement) then I will hope that it is packaged as an optional plugin, because it will be the first thing myself and I believe many other users would add back in.

Thank you for your time - and Stuart, thank you for your investigations and your thoughts. I DO look forward to seeing a lightweight editor come into core as a result of this dicsussion - alongside a full-fat alternative smile

Richard

 
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Dan at desk in Moodle HQ, Perth
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group DevelopersGroup Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

Why are you asking developers? We are the worst people to answer this question [1].

I disagree with your premise that other sites have moved away with tinymce - they never started with it.

We've got a community of millions of teachers who write tables and bright text using the html editor. Moodle sites like primary schools don't just want monochrome authoring tools.

I'm not fan of tinymce bloat so if you can do it without the entire Moodle community turning against you, I'm with you..! But maybe an easier way forward is for you to create a html5 editor plugin to be shared with other institutions. Or even easier - you could restrict the functionality of your tinymce using Moodle settings. Unfortunately moving the mammoth Moodle community at pace is not so straight forward.

Dan

[1] This post was authored in markdown using a plain text field

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

@dan - i'm sure the primary schools with there colourful templates are as unhappy when the tutors post in #ccc baskerville, as we would be if they posted in luminous comic sans.

That choice for almost all cases shouldn't be the tutors editors to make. 

Lets kill the bloat yeh?

 

 
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My Hero
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

Correct me if I am wrong, but can't you just disable the editor?

Site Administration > Plugins > Text Editors > Manage Editors > Disabe 

 

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

This is a joke, right?

No

Surely you can disable editor from site administration, you can change most buttons and some settings from site administration (moodle 2.4+), each user can select from their profile if they want to use HTML editor or "standard web forms" and if you are capable enough you can even create custom editor integrations or plugins yourself - it just takes some weeks, months or years depending on your skills.

Whatever you do some users are never satisfied, some things never work, some people do it always "wrong".

I love my tinymce!

I love the plugins in it that make many things so much faster and easier!

Yes, I know how to use HTML to add images, embed media files, use css to format output (that gets sometimes mystically changed by theme css and particularly yui reset/base css...), I can remember most emoticons/smileys, I can even remember all those latex symbols,... wink ,... but I am not a typical user, right?

Surely editor is just a tool that should help in formatting HTML. Ideally each user should be able to select the tools he/she wants to use so different user/role/course/site based settings or options to change settings might be welcome because all users are different and have different needs.

We had some really interesting usability-discussions in the past about necessary buttons in core editor and if you ask 10 different people you get 10 different answers: ask your users who needs different font families, font sizes, formats, undo, redo, find, find/replace, full screen mode, bold, italic, underline, alignment, cleanup messy code, remove formatting, paste as plain text, paste from word, text colors, background colors, direction (LTR/RTL), lists, indents, links, unlinks, prevent automatic links, images, emoticons, media, equations, symbols, tables, spellchecker or HTML?

Or... where are those buttons X and Y - WHY are they missing from core editor?

See for example https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=130470

PS. I am not against adding new optional editors to moodle if you find a better one - when HTMLArea was replaced with TinyMCE we were testing 4 other open source editors and then TinyMCE was clearly the best (most functional and well supported) option, (F)CKEditor next ... but we had no HTML5, Ipads etc then (about 5 years ago) big grin

 
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Picture of Joseph Rézeau
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup TestersGroup Translators

Mauno "... ask your users who needs different font families, font sizes, formats, undo, redo, find, ..."

And you forgot to mention the all-important (to French writers) nonbreaking space.wink

Joseph

PS.- Frankly I do not see why the OP is getting so wound-up at this issue. Because you have many formatting possibilities at your disposal does not mean that you have to use them. It's all a matter of education, not restriction of the available tools.

 
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Picture of tim st.clair
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 
It's all a matter of education, not restriction of the available tools.

Remember when Microsoft put in the <marquee> tag into browsers and then the every web developer on the planet was educated never to use it, under pain of having your font permanently set to Comic Sans? OP should remember this.

 
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Picture of Gavin Henrick
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersGroup Testers

I believe this is more a matter of training than technology.

It is possible to do the above (or close to) in gmail which has a really stripped down editor. Or even paste in worse from word, etc, which some also like doing.

Here is a gmail attempt to re-create the above wink

gmail editor

That said, having a nice alternate editor as well as tinyMCE can't be a bad thing.

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

you might be using an old version of gmail gavin - this is the current one 

http://gmailblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/introducing-new-compose-in-gmail.html

be interested to see if you can create that in http://xing.github.com/wysihtml5/ which does amazing job of stripping word formatting etc...

 
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Picture of Gavin Henrick
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersGroup Testers

You can do it all in the new compose as well, they just by default hide the extra buttons unless you click the icon

new editor

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 
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Picture of Daniel Lombardo
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

it is the technology and its awful on ipad. We need a touch optimised text editor. Quickly now.

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi,

I think perhaps some underlying porperties of mobile device environments are getting overlooked in this discussion. Javascript works great if you have "beefy" CPUs, i.e. not ARM chips, and large amounts of memory available. Feature rich, responsive UIs run into trouble on ARM chips on mobile devices so they have to be pared back considerably to give a reasonable user experience.

Here's a couple of articles on the subject: http://sealedabstract.com/rants/why-mobile-web-apps-are-slow/

And a response, with clarifications: http://www.codenameone.com/3/post/2013/07/why-mobile-web-is-slow.html

In short, if you want a "word processor-like" editor for Moodle on mobile devices, use a native word processor app and then copy and paste it into Moodle as HTML code.

Since Moodle already uses Javascript UIs extensively for navigation, etc., it's well worth considering dedicated UIs for mobile devices or even going the native app route. Perhaps Moodle could autodetect mobile devices and simply offer a paired down version of whichever text editor/formatter you like with easy intuitive copy and paste functions built in?

Re: tablets, "Turns out people want things that are the size of a laptop to work as well as a laptop." - symbolset, via /.

Just my €0.02! smile

 

 
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Picture of Alex Walker
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

I actually agree 100% with Stuart. I've been thinking about this quite a lot lately. Some lecturers like creating content like this, some developers and sysadmins like letting their staff create content like this.

One of the biggest problems is that it takes us away from semantically structured content, and we end up in a sea of <div class="no-overflow"><div class="no-overflow"><span style="color: black">unsemantic div soup.

The accessible themes on my Moodle have a bit of Javascript (jQuery, obviously) that strips out span tags with different colours and fonts, to increase consistency and usability for those who use our accessible themes.

I like how WordPress handles this kind of thing. Their editor is very stripped down, and they have a 'featured image' that can be associated with posts, which can be pulled out and used to generate thumbnails everywhere. I know WordPress is a totally different system to Moodle, build for a totally different purpose. But maybe there's something we can learn.

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 
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Picture of Joseph Rézeau
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup TestersGroup Translators

Hi Stuart,

Thanks for the link to a "lovely" website. When I see this I can only repeat my motto: "education, education, education".

Joseph

 
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Picture of Alex Walker
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Unfortunately, I'm more than familiar with that Ling's Cars website. It's long been circulated in front-end developer circles big grin. I see she's added background music now. How do I find the 'stop' button on a page like that?

This brings back what we were talking about at #mootie13, about calls-to-action and structured content. There's so much on that page that they've had to make the 'more info' buttons flash magenta.

Have you tried hovering over the pictures of the cars?

 
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Picture of Hubert Chathi
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

tiny mce took ages to load ...

I've noticed that too.  I don't think that it's entirely TinyMCE's fault, though, because it loads very quickly on the TinyMCE demo site.  There must be something about the way it is used in Moodle that makes it load slower.  So while this is a valid issue, it is possible that this would also affect any other editor that you replace TinyMCE with, until the underlying problem is found.

We don't want to keep teaching the content creators how to use a rich text editor 'the right way' we just need one that dosn't make them think - like gmail or evernote.

Why don't you want to keep teaching content creators how to use a rich text editor?  What if I said: "We don't want to keep teaching carpenters how to use a table saw the right way", or "We don't want to keep teaching construction workers how to use a backhoe the right way"?  If you are given a tool to do your job, you should be expected to learn how to use the tool the right way.

What I will agree to, though, is that most instructors do not need such a powerful tool.  To continue one of my analogies above, if your job only needs a shovel, you shouldn't be given a backhoe.  The problem is that some people on the site might need a backhoe, while some others might only need a shovel.  (Even worse, the same person might need a backhoe sometimes, and just a shovel at other times.)  The question is how do you cater to both types of users at the same time?

One possible solution is to hide some of the advanced formatting controls unless the user requests it (like what GMail does) — as far as I know, TinyMCE doesn't have an option to do that.

Another possible solution is to allow for users to use different editors, although that has its own set of problems.

This isn't just an issue of creating ugly content, either.  It's also a usability issue -- the more irrelevant options that a person has directly accessible, the harder it is for them to find what is relevant.  But again, different users have different needs: for most users, subscript and superscript are just clutter, but if you're a Math or Chemistry instructor, those are critical (so wysihtml5 would be a problem for them).  I heard once that most users only use 5% (I don't know if that's the right number, but let's pretend that it is) of the features in Microsoft Word.  So why can't they just take out 95% of the features in Microsoft Word?  Because everybody's 5% is different.  (In fact, I'm frustrated that TinyMCE seems to be missing a way to create blockquotes, while most people don't care about that.)

I don't expect this to happen when i'm reading an article in a book, on the bbc/guardian or even an email so how can it happen in my online learning/moodle?

The reason that you don't get text like that in articles, books, BBC, Guardian, etc. is because they have editors who have been taught properly.  It has nothing to do with whether or not they have tools that are capable of creating an eyesore.  In fact, the tools that they have access to are capable of creating much worse garishness.

As for why you don't get that mess in emails, most people don't care to spend as much time to make their emails "pretty", but I have certainly seen emails that look like that (plus blinking images).

Now, let me say that I'm not trying to defend TinyMCE per se — I think that the interface is mildly ugly and cluttered, and I would prefer an editor that focused on semantic structure rather than presentation.  But I think that it is important to give instructors access to a reasonably powerful editor.

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

I think the main problem here is that moodle has only one core editor with one core configuration. People don't seem to know or realize that TinyMCE can have several configurations at the same time, it is possible to switch from one configuration to another or even have custom user configurations (for example with user preferences) or select from given "editor profiles" (advanced/simple/custom1/custom2,...teacher/student...)

Stuart could view the source from http://www.tinymce.com/tryit/html5_formats.php and modify their site (lib/editor/tinymce/lib.php) to this direction if their users are more pleased to output mainly HTML5 or text. Style list gives HTML5 elements - including blockquote.

Editor

In fact latest version of tinymce could be used with most modern mobiles and tablets - moodle should just have a different editor configuration (or editor theme/skin) for them. For example Lumia 920 (Nokia's Windows 8 phone with IE9) can use tinymce except DragMath with java but selection of text is not very userfriendly with a finger over small words or buttons...

 
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Picture of Dean Leggo
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

I know nothing about the tinymce or how you can customise it but we can code in a button to compress the tinymce to only show a few buttons and then to expand it back out to show all the buttons.

On the settings page the admin can chose what to show on the compressed view and the expanded view.

An example would be Office's Minimise Ribbon button and the Customise Ribbon options.

The compressed view would be great for quizzes where the student only has to enter one line.


 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Have you tried editing a multiple-choice question question in the 2.5 development version recently? (You can at http://qa.moodle.net/.)

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

I don't expect this to happen when i'm reading an article in a book, on the bbc/guardian or even an email so how can it happen in my online learning/moodle?

Such "lecturers" or "tutors" must have been surfing too long in Web 2 tag clouds

Tag cloud

... or they have small children

Colouring

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

It's also worth considering that these days Moodle is not only used by Universities, upper schools, adult education and businesses. It is also used by Primary schools, right down to Infant and Nursery children. And while that would not excuse the sort of presentation examples given above - it does mean that the ability to put bright colours and 'interesting' graphics and various (simple) presentation layouts with tables and so on are essential for the teachers/LSAs etc who get asked to put something up on the class pages.

A simplified interface would be a good thing - but not at the expense of losing the functionality completely (hiding it, maybe; making it optional, maybe; but losing it - no)

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

"One possible solution is to hide some of the advanced formatting controls unless the user requests it (like what GMail does) — as far as I know, TinyMCE doesn't have an option to do that."

This has been possible from the first versions of tinymce - moodle just does not use any such options. For example

1) You can create a custom plugin that adds different switchers to toolbar or uses switchers (javascript) outside the toolbar. As an example one of the popular 3rd party plugins pdw http://www.neele.name/pdw_toggle_toolbars/no_jquery.php

2) You can use simple init code for actual editor and add advanced settings to full screen mode only. For example like this:

tinyMCE.init({
          mode : "textareas",
          theme : "advanced",
          plugins : "...",
          theme_advanced_buttons1: "bold,italic,underline,strikethrough,|,undo,redo,|,bullist,numlist,|,fullscreen",
          theme_advanced_buttons2: "",
          theme_advanced_buttons3: "",
          theme_advanced_buttons4: "",

          fullscreen_settings: {
            theme_advanced_toolbar_location: "top",
            theme_advanced_toolbar_align: "left",
            theme_advanced_buttons1 : "bold,italic,underline,strikethrough,|,justifyleft,justifycenter,justifyright,justifyfull,|,formatselect,fontselect,fontsizeselect",
            theme_advanced_buttons2 : "cut,copy,paste,pastetext,pasteword,|,search,replace,|,bullist,numlist,|,outdent,indent,blockquote,|,undo,redo,|,link,unlink,cleanup,code,|,insertdate,inserttime,preview,|,forecolor,backcolor",
            theme_advanced_buttons3 : "tablecontrols,|,hr,removeformat,visualaid,|,sub,sup,|,charmap,advhr,|,print,|,ltr,rtl,|,fullscreen",
            theme_advanced_buttons4 : ""
          }
        });

3) You can use different classes (for example mceQuiz, mceNormal, mceFull...) when you need different editor configurations and just add multiple configurations to init code

see http://www.tinymce.com/tryit/multiple_configs.php

Each configuration can be used with totally different buttons, plugins, settings...

4) Moodle has functions set_user_preference - get_user_preferences to save and get different user preferences to database. This is how for example splash theme saves color profile that user has selected...

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

You can control this in Moodle 2.4 and later. Look under Plugins -> Text editors in the admin menu. There is not a nice UI yet, but then this is only used by admins.

 
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Picture of Joseph Rézeau
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Tim "[...] but then this is only used by admins."

Exactly, that is the core of the problem. An admin can customize the tinyMCE editor used on a moodle site, but that means the customization will be done for the whole of that moodle site, for all of its users. On a large moodle site, this means that, to answer the various needs of the users, the admin will have to add more and more features, which will result in a bloated editor interface.

 
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Gareth J Barnard
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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For the whole control / mobile thing, can TinyMCE's configuration be controlled by themes?  As there is device detection in moodlelib.php and theme's know the device they are rendered upon.

Cheers,

Gareth

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Yes it can and it has been possible in all versions of moodle 2.

Default editor can be changed dynamically (not only from administration menu) in theme, default is

$CFG->texteditors = 'tinymce,textarea';

but you can for example create a mobile editor version 'tinymobile' and use in mobile theme something like

$CFG->texteditors = 'tinymobile,textarea';

With math plugins of moodle 2.0-2.3  I was using a modified clone of tinymce called tinymath this way and I had a switcher in theme to allow users change editor (options tinymath, tinymce, textarea). The selection was then saved to user preferences with yui...

But it is also possible to create different editor themes or editor theme skins to tinymce and just change these for mobiles, not the whole editor. The benefit of this is that mobiles can have same configuration as main editor but with different layout and tabs ( something like http://tinymce.swis.nl/demo ) . In fact I think editor skin could be modified to use responsive web design (css) just like main themes. Core editor is using a sprite for core buttons but nothing prevents changing custom editor skin css or editor theme javascripts.

 

 
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Gareth J Barnard
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Dear Mauno,

Thanks smile

I have code to manipluate:

$CFG->texteditors = 'tinymce,textarea';

etc.  But do not yet understand how to define my own and instantiate it in a theme.  Or use the 'use_editor()' function in tinymce's lib.php.  Currently looking at code as this has options to manipulate the look as the simple version looks like a good try... http://www.tinymce.com/tryit/multiple_configs.php

Do you have a link to your theme's code please?

Cheers,

Gareth

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

In https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=182627 those packages have a theme called "stylist" and this theme has a yui editor switcher like splash theme has a colour switcher. Note that you should not try those packages in moodle 2.4 or later, editor plugin integration was changed to moodle 2.4 and tinymath editor is not suitable as such to moodle 2.4-... you can still check just the files of stylist theme there.

I could also test this "responsive mobile theme/skin" issue myself this weekend  wink

If it does not seem to work I can test next using some mobile setting to change init code or a complete "mobile version" of tinymce and report back next week...

http://www.tinymce.com/tryit/multiple_configs.php is using different classes for different editor types and moodle should add those classes to textareas dynamically (and these textareas would be replaced with different editor depending on given class).

 
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Gareth J Barnard
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Dear Mauno,

Thank you smile

I'll look at the code smile, my primary intent is an improved version to the solution I have on MDL-31342 for the MyMobile theme in core.  As it knows its a mobile theme, I just want it to reduce the look of the in built TinyMCE editor.

Thanks again,

Gareth

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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I think it might be better to use device detection and init code based on device for all mobiles and tablets, not just MyMobile theme...

I added an example how to do this to MDL-31342

But changing only editor theme to simple from advanced with

if (get_device_type() == "mobile" || get_device_type() == "tablet") {$mtheme = 'simple';} else {$mtheme = 'advanced';}

...

                    'theme' => $mtheme,

...

may not be the best solution - some people may want to use more (or different) buttons than simple theme offers in mobiles too so a totally different init code for mobile devices and tablet devices or user preference based selection of editor (based on some given settings) might be a better solution.

 

 
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Gareth J Barnard
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Dear Mauno,

I did have a glance at http://tinymce.swis.nl/demo and see that it's using a ribbon concept.  Now I'm not a lawer but I have glanced at Microsoft's patents regarding the ribbon concept and I'm faily convinced they are infringing them.  So best not for Moodle to use it.

Cheers,

Gareth

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Considering many of the coments in this thread are from people who otherwise contribute largely to developments within Moodle I am surprised no-one else has picked up on Mauno's comment here that TinyMCE can have multiple configurations.

This is exactly what I did when I was first looking at TinyMCE when we were upgrading to Moodle2.x last summer.

I put a setting in the user profile for 'Text Editor choice' (simple, standard, advanced) and then created three different configurations for TinyMCE depending on what choice the user made within the tinymce code itself. I defaulted everyone to 'simple' and then if people came asking for certain features I would tell them how to alter their profile setting - and make sure they had the knowledge to use the additional features appropriately!

What is in each of the different configurations is under my control, but which one the staff use is under their own control. And yes, we do have staff who missuse fonts and colours - and unfortunately the worst offenders seem to be in the Graphic Design areas! :D And there will always be staff who 'know enough to be dangerous'. But there are also staff who use the tools appropriately to create content for their users

Personally I would not want to lose TinyMCE as many of our staff here now make use of the predefined templates tool (one of TinyMCEs tools which isn't part of the default Moodle toolset, but which provides the opportunity to create templates that staff can then complete just using the most basic tools! - Now if I could just create a front end for that so that other people could create those templates not just me with server access!!!)

Oh - and this was written in the full TinyMCE, which does not mean I have to use any of the font sizes and colour tools and effects that are available if I know not to!!!

Richard

 
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Picture of Hubert Chathi
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

Mauno, thanks for the information.

I would say that linking the extended controls to fullscreen mode wouldn't be a great option since 1) fullscreen does not imply extra controls, and so users would not think to try going there to get extra controls, and 2) in most applications, fullscreen mode gives you less controls, rather than more.

The PDW plugin definitely looks interesting, though.

 
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Picture of Kevin Mueller
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

Thanks for bringing this up Stuart. I absolutely agree. Having an editor that can't be used on mobile devices is a big showstopper, besides the formating issues you mention.

 
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Picture of Joseph Rézeau
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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@Kevin,

I beg to disagree. Your reasoning seems to imply that, because a mobile device cannot use all (or any?) of the features of tinyMCE, then a simplified, mobile-compatible, version should be imposed upon all users, including desktop users.mixed

Joseph

 
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Picture of Alex Walker
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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What would happen, in that scenario, if someone created a label (or page) in the fully-featured desktop editor, then later tried to edit that resource in the cut-down mobile editor?

What would we do for training issues? "Here's how you use this editor if you're using a computer. Here's a different editor and a different tutorial if you're using an iPad."

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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I have to agree with Joseph - the extension of this argument is that I shouldn't use a full scale editor on my PC because I (or someone else) might someday want to edit it on a mobile phone, or their Google glasses, or their Apple wristwatch.

Likewise I should never use the full version of Excel or Word or Powerpoint because I can't later edit it on my mobile phone?

Some tools are more suited for some tasks than others.

 

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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It would be nice if people who created mobiles and tablets could also create the apps and tabs for them...

If some users can't use some buttons of editor it is a usability problem on user level - most likely the same users can't use tools like Photoshop or MSWord any better, they should be using Paint and Notepad. The best solution to that problem is education - you can't prevent more advanced users from using more advanced tools just because some people can't use those tools.

For mobile and tablet users the best solution is to create a custom editor (configuration) for such devices that can't use normal editor. Lots of old mobile devices can't use ANY editor. The "mobile tinymce" could look like this

iImage

but I don't know if anybody has yet tried to create a mobile (theme) version of tinymce or some other text editor...

 
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Picture of sam marshall
Not without a bunch of research...
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The Open University was a bit involved in this as we used TinyMCE (in Moodle 1.9) before Moodle did as standard! Some important factors:

  • As others have said, you can turn off the most horrid options in settings (font family, font size, I'm looking at you).
  • Even though other options like text colour can be bad for accessibility this does not mean they should never be available. Personally I would like to turn them off but if we have a course with a tutor who wants to use colours to make things clearer, and the tutor knows everyone in their tutor group and none of them are colour blind, why shouldn't they use colour? And using colour can actually be an accessibility improvement for dyslexic people...
  • Way back, we got an expert to accessibility-test a range of editors and did a report which indicated that the accessibility support was really terrible in all of them but TinyMCE was least bad. This may not still be the case, but if anyone's considering changing the default editor, they would need to re-do this report. (With regard to HTML5 features specifically, in the past I've noticed that browser manufacturers have frequently given no consideration to accessibility.)

Of course as others have said this does not prevent anyone from adding a new editor plugin type if they want but changing the default would be a big step.

--sam

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 
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Picture of Joseph Rézeau
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Thanks, Tim. Hilarious!

 
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Picture of Bob Puffer
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Very funny.

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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I love the way people keep talking about the real solution being to do training or educate our tutors to use the tools moodle provides.

Personally i'd love to run a course about font stacks, line height and how your choice of type has an unconcious effect on the lizard brain of the end user.

Much the same as i'd love to run a course on how to edit content copied and pasted from word to be accessable symantic html.

I'd love it if all our tutors understood these concepts along with colour theory, the golden ratio, the rules of writing for web, using photoshop/illustrator to create scalable vecor graphics, transcoding multimedia into the correct format and everything else you want people creating web content to know.

But at the end of the day they know the subject they teach, their research and how to teach with passion and anything we can do to enable them to get on with doing what they know how to do has to be a good thing right? 

So i'm not falling for this 'they are bad teachers', 'they cannot use the tools' or 'they need educaion' bullshit. . They don't need to know or understand all the other shit - that is our job. We should be creating systems that enable teaching, instead of imposing a learning curve.

We don't want to be training people how to correct that 12px size font they pasted in from word because it won't be readale/clickable on mobiles. We don't want to be training people in these complex rules we spent years learning as web designers - tutors just want it to work so they can get on with doing what they know how to do - being great teachers!

So while expert content editor systems like tinymce may be ok for those in the know, the majority of systems on the web today have taken that complex learning curve away and left the focus on creating great content.

i stongly believe that is what moodle needs to do too.

If you really still believe that training and education or teaching teachers to teach/be web designers is the solution i extend an open invite to you to visit Sussex and our 1500 constantly changing tutor roster. Just email us, and we will be very pleased to meet you.

Moodle should enable people to teach, without having to read the f**king manual. This rant is a general thing about moodle, tinymce really is just a small part that really isn't helping.

on a possitive note we are going to have bootstrap in core soon so http://jhollingworth.github.com/bootstrap-wysihtml5/ should be available which will make us and our tutors jobs a little bit easieir, and our students experience a little bit better.

 

 
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Picture of Rex Lorenzo
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Wow, I want to buy you a beer.

Completely agree with your sentiment that technology shouldn't get in the way of instruction. The learning curve it pretty dang high in Moodle and while its tools are powerful, it also gives people the ability to shoot themselves in the foot.

The focus on mobile really does bring to light usability issues and concerns and it is only going to increase as we continue forward.

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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How many of your students have had problems with editor? They use the same editor as teachers and most likely they are still able to write plain text anyway...

'Education' does not mean that you NEED to tell all your users all the tricks how to use moodle. It simply means that IF some of your tutors or students have problems with moodle they can find some sort of help desk or "tutor's tutor"... they don't need to read any manuals if they don't wan't to.

Our new teachers have contacted me if they need some "introduction"/"training" about moodle and during a short session (1-2 hours) we have gone through the "basic tricks" - but our secondary school has only 50 teachers to tutor. Each teacher using moodle can still share experiences and if necessary show their students how to do the basic tricks, we don't train students to use editor.

"Paste from Word" is one of those "taboos" - but if you trust your tutors you can show them a short video click like

Schools are different, users of moodle are different and settings of sites really should allow different settings for different sites/users. All users (tutors) are obviously not technology lovers http://blog.alwaysprepped.com/the-7-habits-of-highly-effective-teachers-who-use-technology/ but hopefully future Technology lovers share best practices, which benefits everyone (which is the point!)

 

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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How many of your students have had problems with editor? 

at least two this week, and its only monday!

 

anyone know when tinymce 4 is landing in moodle??

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Why do staff need to be taught all these things? They don't need all that to be able to use TinyMCE as a basic editor - just set up a config of TinyMCE with the basic functions only and make another config available to users who want/need/can cope with more advanced features.

We have large numbers of staff on campus who add their own content, only a small number make use of more than the basic features and only a small number of those make such a mess of their pages that we need to go in and deal with it. BUT there are also a number who want help to add additional things to their content which would not be possible without myself or other Learning Technologists having access to the full features of a solution such as TinyMCE.

I neither want, or need, to teach every member of staff in the university about all the best practices of web design and content creation (nor would they be interested!) but that does not mean we should take the ability to use those features from those who do want/are able to use them.

Now MAYBE Moodle should come with a choice of editors, or even multiple configurations of TinyMCE built in, as a default - as I posted previously its one of the first things I do on my moodle install anyway, but please don't take the power of TinyMCE (or something like it) away from the 'power users' just because some people can't use it properly.

In summary Stuart - I agree with you that not all people can appropriately, or should even be given the opportunity to, use the full TinyMCE, but I don't agree that the solution is to remove TinyMCE entirely, preventing its use for those who can use it appropriately

Richard

 
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Picture of Hubert Chathi
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

Huh?  Your original complaint was about people going crazy with formatting, not about creating amazing content layout.  You're setting up a straw man.  I don't think that anybody here expects teachers to become world-class graphic designers, but they may need to be taught how to not make a mess of things.

But at the end of the day they know the subject they teach, their research and how to teach with passion and anything we can do to enable them to get on with doing what they know how to do has to be a good thing right?

So, you wouldn't have a problem with a teacher who couldn't write or speak properly in whatever language they were teaching in?  Or, in the good old days, if a teacher didn't know how to write on a chalk board (e.g. wrote too small, or too lightly), you would blame the tool, or would you teach the teacher how to use it properly?

I agree that the tool shouldn't get in the way, and if there are obvious deficiencies with the tool, then they should be addressed.  But some degree of training in the tools is absolutely necessary.

So while expert content editor systems like tinymce may be ok for those in the know, the majority of systems on the web today have taken that complex learning curve away and left the focus on creating great content.

Sure, but some teachers will need (some of) TinyMCE's power.  If you give a Chemistry or Math teacher an editor that can't do superscripts and subscripts, they'll complain.  Or else they'll just post a PDF or image, which is in nobody's best interests.  Colour can be very effective, in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing.  So if some people need a full-blown TinyMCE, and some people only need basic editing capabilities, then how do we satisfy everyone's needs?

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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We had some discussions about user/role/theme/activity/course based editors already six years ago but it was too early then... this should be easier now when we have more options to use settings, roles or user preferences in moodle 2.4+ wink

As an example in https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=41831#p310606 Marc Bria Ramirez introduced a module called storytelling (easyeditor) that was using role based tinymce when core moodle was still in HTMLArea.

It is also in our old modules plugins database https://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?d=13&rid=630 (for moodle 1.8 and 1.9)

In storytelling you could configure editor role based

roles

and this way kids could write short stories using a few buttons that administrator had set to that role, share their stories and print them.

Create

share

Print

Read

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Quote:

The main method to encourage tutors to create engaging content with a standard Moodle install is training

Poalo Oprandi

http://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/elearningteam/2013/02/27/e-learning-team-presentation-at-moodle-moot-dublin-2013/

 
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Picture of Steve Wright
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

From the initial post here may analysis is that the big problem here is that users may be tempted to write in 50 shades of grey text - and it is the temptation that is the problem.

The proposed solution seems to be to appropriately discipline the user and punish those who transgress.

In which case: what is the "safe word" to get your admin to turn TinyMCE back on? 

===============================================================================================

More seriously this is one of THE worst proposals I've heard or read. It smacks to me of the worst sort of technical powermongering wherein "the fault is always with the user" logic. We must turn things off in case someone gets it wrong etc. etc. But... what about the people who need to insert special characters? What about the maths department or student? what about people who use tables to present data in tabular form? 

The one place I have seen fonts creatively used the most is in OU wiki activities where the wiki has been terribly introduced and is used in lieu of a forum - so users use different fonts to show their posts. NJow that's a fault of activity design not TinyMCE and can be resolved by good activity design, if necessary enforced with activity completion conditions. (A subject of my presentation at moodlemoot 

Good practice for writing posts and using fonts could be included with activity completion so you have to read that. Else suggest a style manual - there's plenty out there. If you lock down options for getting it wrong how can people learn to get it right? 

I also totally disagree with the notion that this is "complex"

"So while expert content editor systems like tinymce may be ok for those in the know, the majority of systems on the web today have taken that complex learning curve away and left the focus on creating great content." 

which seems predicated on the idea no-one has used or knows how to use a word processor???? Following your logic should we put all our students on textpad as well for their essays in case they format an essay "wrongly" by using all those apparently-impossible-to-use buttons. =

The example that opens this thread is filled with so many logical fallacies  (as a shortlist: strawman, anecdote, slippery slope, bandwagon) with examples deliberately and ridiculously constructed to make a point rather than an example from practice - this goes for ALL of the examples in this thread of why to turn it off. Give me examples from practice that are systematically problematic not articficially  constructed strawmen posts and perhaps the argument could hold more water but for now: why should we all lose something so valuable (Compared with VLEs without such a comprehensive formatting opprotunity with familiar word-processing feel that TinyMCE brings) for the sake of constructed examples made by zealous techno-priests who can't trust or want to "protect the user from themselves" and ensure that they will "lead them not into temptation" and seek to restrict valuable options for "the greater good". 

Steve Wright

 
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Picture of Steve Wright
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

PS: I see your lingscars and I raise you one http://everyfuckingwebsite.com/ - 'good design' a good message does not make wink

 
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Picture of moxie moxie
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

Hi guys,

I'm the main developer of TinyMCE and I see this problem all the time. The problem that users just stick our editor into their CMS fully featured then after a while their content gets messed up since the users have way to much editing control. This is why we have very restrictive HTML rules/filtering settings in TinyMCE so that you can tailor the output exactly to your needs. Most other editors out there has nothing like that and just passes though all HTML as is or very basic restrictions.

We been working with CMS systems for 15 years and over that time period we have learned a important thing. Restrict the user to a bare minimal then loosen that restriction based on the needs of the user base. Don't enable every feature right away.

We are currently working on the 4.0 version of TinyMCE comming out in a few weeks or so. It has a radical redesign of the UI it's now much more clean/restrictive and we will introduce a recommended configuration example.

Regarding iOS/Andoid editing. This is a very hard issue to work with since WebKit on mobile devices are horrible buggy and currently some of those bugs can't be worked around. The two most important ones are the quriky on screen keyboard and the impossibility to hide or modify the selection context menu. We will try to get Apple/Google to solve these issues.

When it comes to loading slowly. If you have a server with gzip that everyone should use these days it loads very fast. It's around 90k gzipped and that is very tiny compared to for example google docs or gmail. You can also use the compressor packages we have that dynamically compressed the js files based on specific plugin configs.

We would be happy to work with the Moodle community to improve your user experience and help you to integrate TinyMCE if you are interessted.

Regards

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

TinyMCE has never been slow wink

There are some known issues:

- Some sites have zlib.output_compression On ( see https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=201934 ) - it causes delay.

- Integration method of TinyMCE in moodle 2 - see  https://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-29831 Multiple occurrences of the editor on the same page cause excessive db queries

but in a big picture such issues are not caused by the code of tinymce smile

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

mobile==spoon

desktop==knife and fork

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

And

tablet == spork, spife, knork and sporf ? wink

( http://techpinions.com/put-a-fork-in-the-tablet-controversy/8165 )

 
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Picture of Paolo Oprandi
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

What if the Moodle editor looked something more like google plus - would what we gain in simplicity make up for what we lose in terms of flexibility?

googleplus editor

 

 

 
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Picture of Hubert Chathi
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

If it just looks like Google plus, it's just a plain text box that allows the user to enter text, and it looks like there's no way to do any formatting.  But looks can be deceiving.  In the case of Google plus, you can bold text by surrounding it by asterisks, and italicise text by surrounding it by underscores.  And the best part is that none of this is documented officially (at least not that I could find).  As far as I can tell, it's only documented in various blog posts by users.

So even though you gain simplicity in appearance, you are imposing a higher cognitive load on users, because you no longer have the WYSIWYG that everyone expects -- users have to guess whether they got their magical incantation right, until they hit the save button and discover that they missed something.

I know that some people love this type of system, and I personally wouldn't mind it too, if Google had 1) provided a preview button so that I could see what it looks like before I save it, and 2) actually documented what markup is supported.

So, the answer depends on what you're actually asking for.  If you want just a plain text box that only allows unformatted text, then I think that we would be giving up too much power (e.g. see my comments in other posts about subscripts and superscripts).  If you want a text boxs that allows users to enter formatted text via markup, then we're giving up discoverability (there's no indication that formatting is allowed) and increasing cognitive load.

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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I think what paolo is talking about is letting go.

"For years, we’ve been telling designers: the web is not print. You can’t have pixel-perfect layouts. You can’t determine how your site will look in every browser, on every platform, on every device. We taught designers to cede control, think in systems, embrace web standards. So why are we still letting content authors plan for where their content will “live” on a web page? Why do we give in when they demand a WYSIWYG text editor that works “just like Microsoft Word”? Worst of all, why do we waste time and money creating and recreating content instead of planning for content reuse? What worked for the desktop web simply won’t work for mobile. As our design and development processes evolve, our content workflow has to keep up. Learn how to adapt to creating more flexible content."

https://vimeo.com/56705945

 
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Picture of Hubert Chathi
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

Letting go of what?

Letting go of trying to get pixel-perfect layouts?  I'm certainly not trying to get that.  But if a user can't see whether their text will be bold or not, I'd say that it's a big step backwards.  (By the way, for the record, I would be much happier if web editors had "emphasis" and "strong emphasis" buttons instead of "italics" and "bold", but I know that's not going to happen unless every user gets educated as to what that means, and why that's better.)

Wait a second.  I thought that you had taken the position that we shouldn't have to educate users.  Why did you just paste a quote about teaching them that the web is different?

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Stuart,

https://vimeo.com/56705945 was a very useful and interesting video, thank you!

I agree that moodle 3 should go to that direction - for moodle 2 it is too big step to take. I am not sure if blaming editor is the right place to start creating structured content. TinyMCE not only supports contentEditable ( my mobile can use it !!! ) but it supports also any kind of templates http://www.tinymce.com/wiki.php/Plugin:template in addition to structured HTML5 http://www.tinymce.com/tryit/html5_formats.php

So if you want to restrict user input hide all other buttons and add only one plugin called 'template' and one button called 'template', create necessary template for accessable "article" formats and tell users how to use those templates.

template

 Another option might be to add some meta data to activities like joomla does

article

Adding metadata, abstracts etc could be done with separate form fields in activity, not necessarely with editor.

One of the difficult issues still remains - how to write maths or add unicode symbols without plugins. Non-educated tutors don't know latex syntax, they don't know mathml and if there is no http://webdemo.visionobjects.com/equation.html type "hand-writing app" available that can detect all unicode symbols from your mouse or touchscreen you can't write maths (or draw graphs) without some plugins...

Edit: ... or hopefully programmers at University of Sussex could create and share that "article course format" or "article activity" that we discussed with Paolo in another post ... https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=223377  wink

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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hi moxie thanks for replying! really nice to see you are listening to user.

Had a play with tinymce 4 and it does indeed address many of these issues we are raising - the redesign of the UI is much more user friendly, the more clean/restrictive approach is a great start along with the clipboard api stuff.

will be happy to give some more feedback after testing with our tutors.

cheers

stuart lamour

 

 
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Picture of Dan Rapoza
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

Hey Moxie,

Any updates on TinyMCE 4 and Moodle? I noticed Moodle 2.5 uses 3.5.8. But I've also noticed that 4.0.3 works much better with iOS!

 
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Dan at desk in Moodle HQ, Perth
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group DevelopersGroup Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

There is an issue for this: MDL-40421

Unfortunately one of the cons is that it will break backwards compatibility with existing Moodle tinymce plugins.

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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just a quick demo of how simple it is to write an wysiwyg editor for modern browsers and mobile 

http://codepen.io/stuartlamour/pen/hgbtn

havn't done any parsing of word formating, which is what https://github.com/xing/wysihtml5 handles so simply.

hopefully this sample code will show that building a modern wysiwyg is actually realtivly trival and simple to understand the inner workings of, build plugins for, hook services into ect ect..

I have massive respect for projects like tinymce that made all this possible back in the day but its really not rockets science anymore.

 

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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I think at present we have two discussions going on in this thread

1. Should TinyMCE be dropped because it allows people to create horrendous looking pages:

My opinion, no - there are enough configuration features available for TinyMCE to allow a simplified toolset for many users while still providing the powerful tools that some require. And if some users require training and support, make it available (no Stuart, I am not going back to your comment of teaching 1500+ tutors all the ins and outs of good web design, I'm talking about supporting the relatively few that need a relatively small number of more advanced tools to support their teaching)

2. Should TinyMCE be dropped because it doesn't work on iPad/Android: My opinion, no - but moodle allows for more than one editor to be in place and quite possibly a mobile specific editor should be available in core

If a single editor can be found that does all these things - provides a simplified interface that can be extended to provide the necessary 'power user' toolset and works on both mobile and desktop, then and only then should we consider dropping TinyMCE, but to head towards the lowest common denominator is (again my opinion) a mistake. In the meantime, Moodle can operate with additional editors as plugin, providing more (oh, sorry LESS) features.

Richard

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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@richard - not really, its just one.

is tinymce the right tool to give people in 2013 when there are better options available.

 

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Which brings it right back to my final point

If a single editor can be found that does all these things - provides a simplified interface that can be extended to provide the necessary 'power user' toolset and works on both mobile and desktop, then and only then should we consider dropping TinyMCE, but to head towards the lowest common denominator is (again my opinion) a mistake. In the meantime, Moodle can operate with additional editors as plugin, providing more (oh, sorry LESS) features.

 We should not drop TinyMCE unless something better can be found - there may be better editors for use on mobiles, there may be better editors for providing simple features, but where is the editor that does all of that AND still provides the tools for the 'power user'. Otherwise we should be talking about supplementing TinyMCE with other options NOT dropping it.

Richard

 
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Picture of Hubert Chathi
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

So which option do you suggest that Moodle uses?  You've suggested wysihtml5, but IMHO that's too limited to be Moodle's default editor (no plugins, no sub/superscript, no tables, no undo/redo).  Unless it has more features than what's visible in the demos.  wysihtml5 also has an issue where if you write two paragraphs of text, make the first one an ordered list item, and then make the second one an ordered list item, then you end up with two separate ordered list instead of one.

Another question is: what makes TinyMCE the wrong tool?  From what I can gather, your complaints that you've raised in this thread are:

  1. it allows teachers to over-format their text
  2. it doesn't work on mobile
  3. slow loading time
  4. can't clear formatting

My personal responses to those are:

  1. any sufficiently featureful editor will allow teachers to over-format.  Some editors will limit the amount that they can do it, but if a teacher decides that every second character should be bold, and every third character should be italics, the only ways to stop that are to 1) educate the teacher, or 2) remove all functionality from the editor and make it just a plain text box.  (But even then they can still do stupid things TO G*E*T E-M-P-H-A-S-I-S, so you're probably better off just educating them.)  Given that you can configure TinyMCE to get rid of almost all functionality, I wouldn't call this an argument against TinyMCE, though one could complain that if they aren't using any of TinyMCE's functionality, then they shouldn't need to ship the whole thing.
  2. I'd say this is a valid complaint, and I can't say much about it because I don't have a mobile device.  To address this issue, there are two options: 1) fix TinyMCE (which Moxie is saying they are looking into) or 2) switch to a different editor (as long as it has the required functionality)
  3. Another valid complaint, though it's not clear that this is entirely TinyMCE's fault.  Does TinyMCE have bloat?  Probably.  After so many years of supporting many different browsers, I'm sure there's code in there that isn't needed because nobody uses those browsers any more.  So we can 1) live with it (does the cruftt really slow it down that much?), 2) clean out the cruft, or 3) ditch it and start with something new (again, as long as it has the required functionality).
  4. Never having pasted anything from Word, this doesn't affect me, but I can see that it would affect a lot of people.  I would imagine that it would be fairly simple to create a plugin for TinyMCE to do that, though, assuming that one doesn't already exist (which would surprise me).

Regarding your sample code on codepen, yes, modern browsers make WYSIWYG editors much easier to write.  (By the way, did you know that TinyMCE uses contenteditable?)  But as they say, 90% of the functionality requires only 10% of the code, and the remaining 10% of the functionality requires 90% of the code, and you haven't even implemented 90% of what one might expect from a modern editor.  There's tons of edge cases (like the list issue that I mentioned above with wysihtml5), and browser compatibility issues.  So the fact that you can get basic editing functionality with that little amount of code doesn't mean that much.

 
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Picture of Hubert Chathi
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

wysihtml5 also has an issue where if you write two paragraphs of text, make the first one an ordered list item, and then make the second one an ordered list item, then you end up with two separate ordered list instead of one.

I just noticed that TinyMCE (at least the version on this site) also suffers from this issue.  Harumpf. sad

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Stuart,

thank you for giving a perfect example about something that does not work as you expected. big grin

I just visited http://codepen.io/stuartlamour/pen/hgbtn with Nokia Lumia 920 (mobile IE10) and this demo is not at all usable. I could write some text, I could select text but once I tried to format text focus was lost and no button had effect, no formatting was taken to text... the space for buttons and text box is limited in all mobiles, they are not suitable for editing WYSIWYG, they are just suitable for viewing content or writing plain text... wink

"Writing" a WYSIWYG editor for mobile browsers and mobile is not at all trivial - wysihtml5 is a good (basic) editor and it can be used for some simple tasks but it has no plugin support for many advanced features that people want to use. If you want to implement it to core and want to use file repositories of moodle you need to integrate file manager to editor (or use just external links). Another option is that mobile editor does not use any plugins or dropdown lists for formatting, no dialogs anywhere. Just a few buttons ( bold,italic,underline,strikethrough,bullist,numlist,outdent,indent,undo ? )

What happens when your wysihtml5-user inserts an image or link to a course  and you backup/restore this course elsewhere or move the whole site to another server - that image/link vanishes ?

Your editor needs to support languages of moodle (translation for hover texts etc). Moodle 1.9 had HTMLArea and it had some plugins and features that people wanted to have also in moodle 2 ("advanced editor") see first http://docs.moodle.org/19/en/HTML_editor and then http://docs.moodle.org/24/en/Text_editor

Many of those features or plugins can't be used in (all) mobiles and for example HTMLArea in moodle 1.9 had a "lang drop down list" that could be used together with multilang filter - many people used it but it is not yet implemented to tinymce. It has taken only about 4-10 years to implement such features to editor, starting from "first HTMLArea moodle hacks" and continuing with tinymce/moodle 2. For example emoticons/emotions/smileys plugin is not using just smiley images, it is a complex plugin that translates those smileys that administrator has given (or defaults) from text smileys to image smileys and back so that when you add a smiley in plugin you see it as image, when it is saved to database it's text and on pages of moodle filter changes it back to image... plus you can as well write text smileys in text mode smile

But it is not trivial wide eyes

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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@mauno - the code in codepen is the example - not the output.

did you try the demos from http://jhollingworth.github.com/bootstrap-wysihtml5/ ?

from your lack of comments about the actual code i can tell your not a programmer so you'll forgive me if i don't answer almost all of your questions above which become obvious/trival if you programme. 

i would however like to take issue with your comment that "the space for buttons and text box is limited in all mobiles, they are not suitable for editing WYSIWYG, they are just suitable for viewing content or writing plain text"

i'm more than happy writing blog posts and most other content on an iphone using a mobile wysiwyg editor or cut down version. It's really fun when well designed.

have you tried evernote, gmail, google docs or any of the other great html5/apps that provide a useful wysiwyg editors on small (>400px) screen?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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No I don't call myself programmer or not even developer - I am just a "moodler" (teacher) who has tested these issues about 10 years now... and wasted a lot of time wink

I have not seen a well designed "mobile editor" yet - I have used some mobile apps where I can type something with my elephantine fingers and even writing an url like http://jhollingworth.github.com/bootstrap-wysihtml5/ to a mobile url field is a pain... evil

One of the main problems is that there are too many kinds of mobiles - too many screen resolutions http://stats.areppim.com/stats/stats_mobiresxsnapshot.htm

Some of the most common of these

Apple
     iPhone        320 x 480
     iPhone 4    640 x 960    
     iPhone 5    1136 x 640
Samsung
     Galaxy Mini    240 x 320
     Galaxy Ace    320 x 480
     Galaxy S/S2    480 x 800
     Galaxy S3    720 x 1280
Nokia
    Lumia 920    1280 x 768

So I have Lumia 920 and it has better screen resolution than IPhone5 - but I can't do much in such a small screen space (about 5 x 5 cm), I need to scroll here and there when I write long texts or if I open some plugin with preset width and height I need to scroll here and there to find the Update button etc.

Yes, I tried http://jhollingworth.github.com/bootstrap-wysihtml5/ and writing text is ok, I can select single words and change it bold, italics, underline but what if I need to select several words in mobile? In this example when I clicked Insert Image button I thought it would launch a modal but guess what happened... the screen stopped responding. I had to close the demo.

Gmail, Google docs,... yes, I have used them with desktop computers. But guess what, Windows Phones don't like Google Apps: http://www.7tutorials.com/how-access-google-docs-your-windows-phone

Apple, Samsung and Nokia have all good Stores where you can try to find different apps for different desktop tools, lets say Office app, and for example in mobile Word editing is easy - but very limited http://www.windowsphone.com/en-US/how-to/wp8/office/use-word-mobile

I can't copy and paste links or text in my mobile from browser to browser/apps or from apps to browser/apps. And I can't use my right/left finger like I use mouse right click in PC to get quick options... big grin

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Then rather than refusing to adress the issues that Mauno raises on the basis that he is not a programmer, I guess you will be overcoming these 'trivial' issues and we can look forward to your fully featured, mobile and desktop friendly version of your editor in the very near future?

To be honest, I would think very few of us are actually interested in the code itself, we want the editor to do what we want it to do. And in this case, you have suggested dropping TinyMCE but have not come up with a workabe alternative that answers the issues raised by people who disagree with your assertions.

The only thing that keeps coming up in the thread is a simplified html5 editor which does not provide many of the necessary features for a significant number of users and does not answer the issues.

If you want to promote dropping TinyMCE then you need to be able to suggest a workable alternative that meets the needs of the users - ALL the users, not just the ones who need to enter basic text on small mobile devices.

The wysihtml5 examples you have given so far do not meet that criteria - that would not appear to be just my opinon but that of other people posting on this thread. Therefore the solution would appear to be if you want that as an editor, by all means develop it as a Moodle plugin, add it to Moodle as an option for people to select side-by-side with TinyMCE and that would be great, I for one would love to have more choice like that. But that is not the same as your heading for the thread of dropping TinyMCE.

Richard

 
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Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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I do agree that TinyMCE could do with a bit of a face-lift, but I really disagree that we should entirely remove the option for users to make their own choices. As others have pointed out, this should really be about education rather than limitation for all. There are times where it may be preferable to remove certain features (e.g. colour), but equally there are plenty of times when it's helpful to have all of these features.

I think that taking these things away would be bad, wrong, and ultimately bad for users.

Personally, I would prefer a user preference allowing the user to select their preferred editor toolbar level (basic, medium, advanced or something), with a per-editor toggle too.

I also think that it would be great to offer an alternative editor to TinyMCE for those who prefer it (and such an editor could possibly become the default over TinyMCE) but, again, as others have pointed out writing a WYSIWYG HTML editor is not easy and there is a lot to get wrong.

Looking at WYSIHTML5, it is highly jQuery specific and dependent making support for it in core difficult (if not impossible). Also, looking at the code, it doesn't seem to easily support writing additional plugins (without hacking) because of the way in which it is written (though I've not spent a huge amount of time looking so I could be wrong). It's also sticking everything in an iFrame (which isn't necessarily a bad thing but I understand makes styling more of a pain).

One of the guys at Smugmug (http://smugmug.com) told me today of an editor he's been writing, written using YUI. It's not complete yet, though a lot of the infrastructure is now in place. I've just written a quick fiddle to demonstrate it - see http://jsfiddle.net/andrewnicols/z8zVc/ (or http://jsfiddle.net/andrewnicols/z8zVc/show to view just the Results pane).

As I say, it's not yet complete and is missing things like toolbars and has a couple of minor bugs (mostly affecting older versions of IE), but it is extremely lightweight and works on mobile (though admittely you currently can't change the font size/style/etc yet owing to the lack of buttons). The hooks are already written for menus to work and it's extremely pluggable so we should be able to (relatively easily) add support for our existing TinyMCE plugins (since they're already written using YUI).

It uses a standard div with contenteditable="true" and is very easy to style.

Andrew

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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@andrew - not sure if you saw  

http://codepen.io/stuartlamour/pen/hgbtn

as you can see its hacked together in about 5 min, not tethered to any js lib, is incredebly easy to understand and build plugins for.

 

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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And I am looking forward to seeing some of those 'incredibly easy' plugins and 'trivial' matters that us non-programmers cannot understand being demonstrated as well, so that the points raised by Mauno, myself and others are adressed.

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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@richard

as a scientist i use the term trivial in meaning something which can be broken down and easily acheved, as compared to a non-trival task http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice's_theorem

as browsers, html, css and javascript improve all those previously non-trival web tasks become increasing simple and well defined problems with common patterns or solutions e.g. http://www.wufoo.com/html5/example/

the wysiwyg editor is something that has historically been a complex problem to solve on the web, but is becoming increasingly simpler thanks to modern browsers and the web comunity.

as users/customers experience patterns of interaction they find useful they begin to expect them in other web applications and indeed become unsetled if things don't just work. 

the experience our tutors at sussex have of tinymce and other wysiwyg editors is not a good one, it often dosn't just work the way the want it to, the way they expect or like the rest of the web anymore.

please except my appologies if my thoughts and investigations into if this can be solved are not to your liking.

 

 

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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More generally, the word "trivial" is used to describe any result which requires little or no effort... wink And some things really do change quickly - like browser support for HTML5 ( http://html5test.com/results/desktop.html vs http://html5test.com/results/tablet.html vs http://html5test.com/results/mobile.html ) , some don't - like our attitudes often need some time to change big grin

But most people don't buy a new mobile every year, some people use old mobile models for years and MANY educators may still use Windows XP with IE7 or Windows Vista with IE8, hopefully nobody is using IE6 anymore anywhere... for these people HTML5 is something that "breaks their browser", does not work big grin

Most of our teachers are willing to try new things, willing to learn how to use cool features and tools like tablets or "social media" in teaching. When they test new things these demos usually need to work or they drop new tools immediately. I was talking with one of my teacher colleagues yesterday about using iPad in teaching (maths). She has now tested iPad about month intensively but has not found yet how to use it for something really useful, not just for limited demo apps or playing.

We have a very enthusiastic group of teachers testing different e-learning tools because all of our student are going to use computers in The Finnish Matriculation Examination http://www.ylioppilastutkinto.fi/en/ in first exams 2016 and finally in all exams 2019 including Maths.

No pencil and paper in maths test??? It's a revolution!!!!

First reactions were not all positive because today there is no reliable and quick way to write maths with computers, not even with tools like http://webdemo.visionobjects.com/equation.html

So it probably means that because our government wants to get these e-Exams to all subjects we might see a multiple-choice maths test in our national exams - or text fields where students can write some text like "integral of exponential function ..."

There may be 3 worlds we live in - the past, today and the future world. Most of us might like to live in the future world where everything is easier and cool - but we can't because we need to live in today's world where all things do not work like we want them to work and we just need to live with that wink

And we need both dreamers and testers, not just programmers to move things forwards - not backwards.

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Unfortunately (or not), I am not a scientist, I am an ex-Primary school deputy head and to me (and I believe most other English speakers) the word 'trivial' implies something small, unimportant, or of little significance - http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/trivial

And I don't believe your efforts to find a better editor are 'not to my liking' - If anything can be improved then I am in favour. My whole response to your argument has been to find alternatives that are usable alongside TinyMCE unless an editor which provides all the features that are already in place can be identified - and if that is with a simpler mobile friendly interface, then great. My responses are based around your suggestion that TinyMCE should be dropped completely, while not having what I (and I believe many other people, including others posting in this discussion) would consider a suitable replacement.It would not bother me to see a smaller, lighter editor adopted as the default one - provided that something with the power of TinyMCE is available for those who DO need it. And your investigations are very worthwile when seen along those lines - but currently I would see your solutions sitting alongside TinyMCE as optional editors and not as being a convincing argument for dropping TinyMCE altogether, which appears to be the position you have taken.

In short, it is not the search for something better (even if 'better' equates to lighter and less functionality) that I disagree with, it is the premise that TinyMCE needs to be dropped completely when there is no suitable replacement suggested.

Richard

PS and Stuart - I would happily accept your apologies if I thought you had anything to apologise for in this regard, but I thought that the idea of the forums was to debate and discuss issues, to have an opportunity to air views and if those views are different and 'not to my liking' or mine are not to yours, I wouldn't expect anyone to apologise for holding them!!! If mine (or my expression of them) have offended in any way then I would apologise for that, but none is intended, just trying to get to the bottom of the issues you have raised. And on this matter it may well be that we will continue to disagree, I hope in a friendly manner though smile

Richard

 
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Picture of Andrew Nicols
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Hi Stuart,

Yes I did see it, and I also saw you inform Mauno that "the code in codepen is the example - not the output." -- which is it?

I'm failing to see the benefit of writing an editor ourselves, from scratch, using native browser JavaScript. One of the key benefits of using a library, like YUI, is that it handles much of the cross-browser pain and suffering. Even doing things like keyboard event handling is non-trivial without a library, and even with a library there can still be a lot of edge-cases to work with. Moodle is not going to drop YUI so it makes no sense to not use it.

Additionally, writing our own editor is a huge undertaking and not to be taken lightly. It's far from easy and would likely require extensive tweaking for a very long time. Are you offering to undertake this responsibility, contribute your work back to core,  and work on issues as they arise?

Andrew

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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well, as codepen doesn't work on windows mobile maybe i'll go with example?

apols thats not going to be very useful for anyone using windows mobile at time of writing who isn't a coder, but for the rest of you i get you guess the concept - its not magic, it does not have to be a lot of code.

i think Damyon is now getting some self written, from scratch, huge undertaking, dependent on yui editor into core, which seems to not address any of the issues in the thread.

discussion about it is here - https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=240774

 
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Picture of Hubert Chathi
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

FWIW, TinyMCE also sticks the whole editable area inside an iframe as well (and IIRC, CKEditor does that too).

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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contenteditable can be applied either to an entire HTML document, or one div within a document. The browser bugs are worse in the div case, which is why most editors go the iframe route.

 
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Picture of Joseph Rézeau
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Mauno "There may be 3 worlds we live in - the past, today and the future world. Most of us might like to live in the future world where everything is easier and cool - but we can't because we need to live in today's world where all things do not work like we want them to work and we just need to live with that."

Well-said, Mauno. Reminds me of that favorite French philosopher of mine, Blaise Pascal who wrote (my italics):

    We scarcely ever think of the present; and if we think of it, it is only to take light from it to arrange the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means; the future alone is our end. So we never live, but we hope to live; and, as we are always preparing to be happy, it is inevitable we should never be so.

    Pascal, Pensée 47

Joseph

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Stuart - can I ask what has changed in it please? The GitHub you've linked to says that it was library agnostic 2 years ago, so from when you posted originally?

 
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Picture of Ralf Hilgenstock
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Hey guys,

I understand this discussion fully as a discussion about controlling users to do only the things someone has allowed in formatting texts.

Two questions:

How do you control MS WORD, MS Powerpoint or if you like it more, OpenOffice, Libre Office text formatting by teachers and students if they are working on school IT infrastructure?

How do you guarantee that nobody copies documents that are not formatted correct. Is your copy machine controlling this and gives it a  feedback: "You've used fonts and colors that are not allowed. Please take your paper and correct it." Does the beamer the same before showing uggly slides to students.

Some years ago I had a discussion with a primary school teacher about Comic Sans. She told me that there are only a few fonts that use some letters in the same way as young students should learn to write if they start. For example the 'a' is written normally in a way that is quite different to the handwritten  'a'.  I think it makes sense that educational units can decide this by themself through configuration and not by decision of a dozen crazy developers. Sorry, exactly you personally are not meant.

We shouldn't try to solve human problems on technical level.

Ralf

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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@ralf - "I think it makes sense that educational units can decide this by themself through configuration and not by decision of a dozen crazy developers."

i'd love it if every author approached their book publisher and said "i'd like to decide what fonts, colour, underlining and stuff to use myself".

i find it intolerable that tutors are allowed to make such awful accessibility, usability and readability mistakes when creating content. mistakes that they would never accept from a student or in an academic article.

there is a very good reason services like http://www.teehanlax.com/story/readability/ exists.

there is a reason we employ graphic designers.

i don't believe you should have to have a degree in graphic design to be able to teach or that "educational units can decide this by themself through configuration".

i'd be really interested to see you convince penguin, puffin, pearson or any other publishers of content of your idea.

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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Except the difference here Stuart is that you are suggesting that the manufacturers of the printing press software tell Puffin, Pearson and Penguin that they can only use one set of tools - the same set of tools,fonts, etc, regardless of whether they are publishing a children's book or a scientific thesis full of formulae - unless they employ a printing press technician to change the defaults, oh and they can only then have one set of defaults across their entire published range.

Moodle is designed in such a way that plugins for other text editors can be added. You, or any other institution, can then decide (at an administrator level) to limit users to a certain set of tools - or a different editor. However, moodle does not cater for a single publishing style - it needs the facilities to address users from Nursery school, through to University and workplace/adult learning in fields from simply attracting those young children onto the class website and its brightly coloured links to activities/other sites, through to the graphic art teachers who want to demonstrate different techniques in different sections/pages of their courses, through to the scientists/mathematicians using the algebra/formula plugins. And at the same time, many of those institutions from small schools up, do not have the finances to employ a designer to customise the look and feel of their content centrally - They use an 'off the shelf' theme which allows them to change the logo and colour scheme in very simple ways - and even within one institution may want/need their content to look very different. Try giving a Year 6 Primary school child a page designed to attract the Year 1 non-reading Infant child or vice-versa, yet they are in the same school and using the same site with the same theme/branding/look and feel. Moodle caters for all of those and far more, in institutions where designers are not available to create complex themes with conditional formatting dependent on categories and pages.

If one of those institutions decides to simplify their text input method to one that suits their needs - possibly one of the ideas you have suggested - then that is appropriate and probably a very good idea for that institution.

Should Moodle as a whole make the decision to restrict those features by removing TinyMCE as you suggest - a very definite NO from me (capital letters deliberate, before you tell me off for that the way you have criticised Mauno for underlining for emphasis!) And as it already has the ability for administrators to add alternative plugins and make one of them default for that institution, then unless you are going to start suggesting that Moodle should only target a specific sector - or different versions of moodle should be brought out for different sectors, then I don't believe there is any case for dropping TinyMCE at all - while there is a very strong case for providing additional (simpler?) alternatives and allowing administrators to select between them for their purposes.

Oh yes, it already does!!!

 
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Picture of Hubert Chathi
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

In this thread, it has been mentioned a few times that people copy/paste from Word, and that that causes problems.  I think we all know that people do that.  I'm wondering why do people do it, and is there some way that we can avoid it?  Some reasons that I can think of are:

  1. They have been told that the Moodle editor is unreliable, because they can get logged out in the middle of editing something.  (Obviously, some sort of autosave mechanism would help with that.)
  2. They are "used to" Word.
  3. They have existing material that they are importing into Moodle.
  4. They want to create content offline.

Are there any other reasons?

(This isn't directly related to this discussion, other than the fact that pasting from Word seems to cause problems with TinyMCE.  So if the moderators feel it's appropriate, go ahead and move this post to a new discussion.)

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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In my experience Hubert, its often because they already have the content created offline.

However, we have had no problems with this since moving to Moodle2 because part of our training for all users was to reinforce the use of the 'Paste from Word' tool or the 'Paste as Plain Text' tool and to explicitly tell staff NOT to import text direct from Word, while providing more detailed support for those who needed it for things such as replicating a timetable grid on their Moodle page that was a table on their Word page. Or even recommending in some cases that it would be more appropriate for the content to be linked to the original document (Word or PDF) rather than in the front of the page itself. In my experience it is as much about training and support and PEOPLE as it is about technical solutions.

They have listened to that training and we have had very few problems, and those that we have had - we have had sheepish tutors phoning up and saying they knew, but forgot, or clicked wrong button to paste.

That doesn't mean this will be everyone's experience, but it is mine.

Richard

 
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Picture of Danny Wahl
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

those are pretty much the reasons I've deciphered in talking to faculty at our school and I'll add a couple more:

5. They are required to submit lesson plans / worksheets to other repositories (Principals via email, Curriculum coordinator via Atlas)

6. The use Word to "collaborate" (via emailing the document 100x) with other subject/grade teachers when building a lesson/worksheet

admittedly both of these are probably sub-points for #2

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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i tend to find that once people start using simpler/better tools than word - e.g. evernote, google docs, ect they never go back.

moodle isn't currently that better tool - so most users will prefer to use word and upload documents.

moodle thus becomes a file repository.

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 
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Me!
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group DevelopersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

Well Moodle is all about plugins - I wanted to play with contenteditable a bit too to see how well it works - and I found it quite good so I converted it to a Moodle text editor plugin here:

https://github.com/damyon/contenteditable

Feel free to make suggestions - submit patches or do whatever you like with it. 

It will only work on Moodle 2.5 - just because I used shifter-ed YUI modules. It supports sub-plugins (each of the buttons on the toolbar is a separate button) and some small plugins could be written to handle tables, moodle media, links, colors. I like that it is simple though and wouldn't really want the buttons to extend to more than a single row.

 

 

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

hi damyon, that is a lot of code there! I think many of the tinymce issues come from its code bloat, so your example might be falling into the same trap.

you can do almost all of that in about 3 lines of javascript and be library agnostic.

http://www.barneyparker.com/world-simplest-html5-wysisyg-inline-editor/

makes it much easier to edit/maintain, faster to load etc, etc....

 

 

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 
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Picture of Hubert Chathi
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

Stuart, have you taken a look at the WYMeditor that was mentioned in that article?  It seems to have more features than wysihtml5 (and even supports plugins), but still has more of a focus on the structure of the document.  While I have some complaints about how it works (e.g. there seems to be no way to switch a list item to be a regular paragraph), it seems to be a good start.

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Stuart,

organizing site content is really a much larger issue than just replacing a wysiwyg editor with a less advanced editor. Changing editor does not solve your problem.

What you want to do at Sussex University is to restrict user input so that your pages of moodle could look something like this:

http://www.wikihow.com/Climb-a-Tree

In wikihow.com (example) you can edit separately different parts of content but site administrators (or the cms/lms/etc) have preset (layout element) options that users can edit for example like this

http://www.wikihow.com/index.php?title=Climb-a-Tree&action=edit

Still most likely BBC could not use "wikihow-content-format" and Wikihow could not use "bbc-content-format" directly because both sites might want to have personal structure for their "articles"... = content.

If you want to change moodle to a "standard-type-content-management-system" the best (trivial) way to do it quickly is to re-write all necessary activities, add some new course format (Sussex article format) and set your site to use only this special course format and custom activities, not the core ones. These custom activities can have as many extra text fields as you like in as many "templates" as you like and you can implement whatever editor to these text fields if you like.

Presentations like http://www.hannonhill.com/news/blog/2013/new-webinar-series-progressive-enhancements-to-improve-content-editing-and-re-use.html are great but in the real world teachers use mostly offline tools like Word, Excel or Powerpoint to create printable course material / presentations / pdfs or they have hundreds/thousands of different kinds of documents in their hard disc and they often want to copy/paste some parts of those documents instead of rewriting every single word of new text. The facts that all mobile apps don't support all features of corresponding desktop tools or some pdf readers don't support all features of original Adobe pdf files does not prevent teachers creating content with the tools they like and have used. When a mobile user installs a mobile app she/he expects that it can do certain things the same way as desktop tools but she/he also knows that many tasks can't be done with mobiles - and they can find a desktop tool edit documents if they need to do it today... wink

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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@mauno - please stop underlining text that isn't a link - i understand its a beginners mistake, but we all have to learn sometime.

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
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@Stuart - Please use capital letters correctly. I understand that is a beginners mistake too, but we all have to learn sometime.

From a 'real user' who also happens to be a contributor on these forums https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=227805#p989550

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

@richard, mauno & hubert - my g+ is https://plus.google.com/117151225863784084515/posts - any convenient time to have a hangout with you guys?

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 
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Picture of Joseph Rézeau
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup TestersGroup Translators

Hi Stuart,

Now you see how important it is to format your text with all those glaring attributes to catch readers' attention?

Your post has now passed the 100 mark of replies. Well-done. wink

Joseph

 
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Ben talking on the phone beside a monitor
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

I've been deleting this thread as it comes into my email client's Moodle folder. Just too much to read.

This is just to attest and avow and aver and to say that Joseph's well-formatted message got me to come to Using Moodle to see what this thread was about.

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
I was spared the torture thanks to one switch. My Email format is set to Plain text format from day one.

BTW, where do we stand?
a) Cripple the authoring tool so that the stuntmen won't hurt themselves?
b) or educate the educators. in this case on typography and aesthetics?
 
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Picture of Hubert Chathi
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

I don't think there's any overall consensus yet.  Several people support a greater focus on semantics over presentation.  Many people do not want to lose some of the advanced formatting options, nor the ability to extend the editor using plugins.  Some middle-ground options have been suggested, such as supporting multiple editors, or hiding the advanced formatting options unless a user needs them, but there hasn't been much discussion about those after they were first proposed.

 
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Picture of Daniel Lombardo
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

Everyone has their opinion, but it is unanimous, lets improve the text editor!

  • TOUCH OPTIMIZED
  • QUICK LOAD
  • GOOD ON SMART DEVICES
  • WEBFONTS

Sometimes my ipad won't write', I have to click off the input and back again. Is happening right now and it's ruining my mood.

 
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Picture of aman katoch
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
 

great it works

 
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Picture of Jez H
Re: Dear Moodle, can we drop tinymce yet?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

>> on the desktop it tempts and invites me do stuff like this which...

You can create equally ridiculous examples in Word, Powerpoint, Wordpress, Mahara, Xerte, any of the tools we commonly use.

Very few (if any) of our staff or students are beguiled into making themselves look ridiculous merely by the presence of a few formatting buttons, which they have already become accustomed to in other apps.

If you want consistency you need templates, examples, guidelines that can be used across all applications, that way your PDF, video and other content all "fits" together.
... in my opinion smile

Sure the text editor could be improved, everything can, but I don't see it as big issue.

 
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