Wondering if there are any plans to make editing more WYSIWYG.

+1 vote
asked in WikiTree Tech by Richard Saylor G2G2 (2.9k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
Commenting instead of answering because I don't have an answer. Just that I hope there isn't, I LIKE Wiki software.

Chances are it will, little by little, as it has been going.

2 Answers

+2 votes

Nice idea, but I don't see it happening in the immediate future.

WYSIWYG requires a program like Word or Open Office to produce that look of what the finished product will look like as you work on it.  This is great for documents on your home or office computer, not for creating web ready pages.

WikiTree is based on MediaWIki which is an open standard.  Its use is primarily web development.  As such, WikITree uses Wiki Markup as the means to create our Profiles. In essence, when we use the Edit Box to format our Biography text, we are programming a web page.  Different demands require different solutions.  A WYSIWYG editor was developed,  VisualEditor, but apparently fell short of expectations and needs and is not widely used.

For a nice explanation of a Wiki based website see: Wiki

Also, I am not sure if  Magnus would like this.  LOL

answered by L J Russell G2G6 Pilot (106k points)
edited by L J Russell

LJ, "a program like Word or Open Office" is a reference to a standalone program that is used on a local computer (although nowadays sometimes the program is hosted in the cloud and downloaded in fragments to the local computer as called for) to produce a computer data file in a proprietary format.  

Editing a webpage requires a minimum of two computer files - the software to display the edit page on the user's computer and the software to perform the database actions when the user submits the edit page to the web server.  The software that produces the edit page and sends it to the user's computer can be WYSIWYG, but much more often is not because (a) requires a monstrous development effort, (b) is exceedingly complex and an order of magnitude more difficult to maintain, and (c) would result in a much larger file that needs to be downloaded each time the edit page gets displayed on the user's computer.  

WikiTree does have the PREVIEW button on the edit page, which you can click before you save changes to see a close to WYSIWYG rendering.

Programming languages (like perl, php, asp, etc.) are used for web development.  One thing done by web software is to wrap HTML markup around text either hard coded into the software or extracted from a database by the software.  MediaWiki is not used for web development - it is exclusively a markup language, used to combine formatting instructions with text content.  Although I realize that it is widely liked by folks who use it, personally I have a very low opinion of it.  I see it as a dumbed down HTML that exemplifies the antithesis of "best practice" by using text characters as markup in specific situations and as text in others without displaying any indication of which is which.  HTML is a much richer markup language, with consistency in syntax across all its elements.  I constantly hit my head against the wall trying to fathom why wiki code ever came into existence when it was preceded by such a better way of doing the same things.

Thandk, I appreciate this discussion


Thanks for fleshing out my post in a more technical aspect.  I tend to make it as easy as possible as I am never sure of someone's knowledge base in web design, development and implementation.  I used MediaWIki use for  web development as it is easier than getting into knowledge and content management for applications that are web based.  To the layman, development.

Your statement MediaWiki is not used for web development - it is exclusively a markup language, used to combine formatting instructions with text content. has me a little thrown off.  I thought MediaWiki was the overall wiki engine application for the user, here WIkiTree.  And Wiki MarkUp was the syntax used by individual members, us WikiTreers,  for the overall Wiki application to format and present our pages in the browser environment, Editing and Formatting our Profiles.  So am I incorrect in this assumption?  Thanks.

Although I do not understand the intricacies of web design, your discussion gives me some insight into the problem. My concern is twofold. First is the matter of user friendliness which is paramount in attracting new users. My other concern is based on my advanced age. I have put many hundreds of hours into creating my family history. My main interest in starting with WikiTree is survival of data in the long term. I have little faith in other sites that charge large fees and are based on the profit motive. I felt that since WikiTree is operated by a large number of motivated volunteers, that it can more likely continue indefinitely.

My worry, from your discussion, is that although many people are involved in the operation, the actual technical maintenance and upgrade of the software is in the hands of of one or two people. I would hope that you could put my mind at ease in this matter.

Gosh Richard, I wish I could just say a few words to allay your fears, but I can't.  Most enterprises, public or private, usually only have one or two at the top.  But the maintenance is not an issue for me though and upgrades are handle by a committee of Leaders who must weigh and balance what is required to keep WikiTree operational. And I totally agree that I don't trust sites that are operated on a profit motive.  Businesses fail, would you have thought when you were a little boy that Sears would be no more?

The nice thing about a volunteer based non profit operation like WikiTree is that it doesn't take a lot of money to run it. The few bits of advertising on WikiTree are sufficient to pay the bills to keep the servers running. Chris Whitten, who founded WikiTree, had a wonderful post on G2G awhile back on the plans to keep WikiTree viable for many many years.  I just can't find it.  Maybe someone else reading this post knows it and can share it.

And user friendly is in the eye of the beholder.  I caught on to the syntax in the edit format quickly, though I do have more than a few years of programming under my belt and was 8 credits shy of obtaining my B.S. in Computer Science when I was asked to....ah leave school for a temporary period.  They never should have given me the Super Administrator Password to the schools computer system and we'll leave it at that.  LOL  Gaile offered a predilection to HTML coding over  the Wiki Markup Language in use here.  All I can say is I am so glad we don't use that, talk about user unfriendly to those not used to programming.  While a stronger means to create than Wiki Markup, it has a lot of floss that is unneeded on a Wiki platform.  And as Gaile pointed out so succinctly, a WYSIWYG editor for WikiTree is a bear to install and maintain.  Not to mention all the present files would have to be converted to the format and syntax it prefers and that is what scares me about it.

So as they say, it is what it is.  And as my Grandmother used to tell me, don't worry about things cause you only suffer twice when you do.
I tried to find Chris Whiiten's G2G post to no avail.  But after a cup of coffee I started to remember a little more and basically they have made provisions for the data on WIkiTree, all of our Profiles, to be available for darn near perpetuity.  The WIkiTree site may not work to be able to load new data or make changes, but the data will be accessible and not lost.

Now that's from the memory of a guy who walks into the kitchen and forgets why he went there, so take it with a mild warning.  LOL
+2 votes

There are some WYSIWYG editing options at the top of the profile narrative box:

Bold textItalic textLink to another WikiTree profileExternal link (remember http:// prefix)Level 3 headlineIgnore wiki formattingHorizontal line (use sparingly)categorization iconCite your source with an inline reference

answered by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (662k points)
Sorry, Jillaine … those are neat tools but not in the nature of WYSIWYG.  This is the acronym for "what you see is what you get" and what we see when editing is text with any markup that we add to it.  The tools make it easier to add the markup without having to know what codes to type, but they don't change the appearance of the editing page.  WYSIWYG means that you do the actual editing on a page that looks like the view page.
Have to agree with Gaile on this. Those are convenience functions. Many other content authoring website frameworks have true WYSIWYG editing. G2G has much more of one than WT itself. Tables should be edited like a table and not require understanding arcane syntax. Footnotes should work like footnotes, etc.

I understand some of the issues. I'm a retired software engineer with decades of experience. I have done web design and user interface design (related but different things). I personally would prefer to use a subset of HTML rather than learn a new syntax for the same things. Editors like CKeditor do WYSIWYG and also allow using HTML but can be setup to only allow certain types of HTML. A good WYSIWYG editor could open WT up to a lot more users.

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