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How hard can it be to maintain a rich text editor?

June 8th, 2021

3 min read

Scrabble letter tiles put together saying "Mend the roof before it rains"

Written by

Joe Robinson


World of WYSIWYG

There are over 1 billion lines of code running in all published software worldwide (excluding software projects not released). Of that code in production, 80% of it isn’t documented, nor is it well maintained. Given those findings were reported back in 2014, it’s likely that percentage has exponentially grown. 

So, what’s an ‘acceptable’ maintenance level? It’s maintenance that stops software from becoming an ongoing and painful headache for everyone involved. We can see that the maintenance of software, including adding a rich text editor, is actually pretty challenging.

It takes time to gain software maintenance skills

A study carried out at Princeton University and published in Nature, found that it takes at least a semester of study for new computer science students to reach competence. This is backed by neurological evidence from fMRI scans. Students learning the fundamentals of software development (including how to maintain their projects) took 12 weeks for their memory and planning skills to resemble (in any way) the patterns of experts. So integrating a specific rich text editor component into your application, and maintaining it, can be done, but it requires commitment and time.

Maintenance without any existing WYSIWYG libraries

Alternatively, If you have coding discipline yourself, or are backed by a team that has computer science skills, then maybe the challenge of starting from scratch looks interesting. Or, you may want to create and maintain a rich text editor component for your own project. And if that intrigues you, don’t let us stop you!

So what’s first on the list of things to build? How about vertical cursor movement, or maybe accounting for languages that have different input methods?

And then there’s the maintenance question. Again. It’s estimated that at least 70% of the cost of software development goes toward maintaining the packages and code after the product arrives on the user’s device. 

At Tiny, our mission is to save you the headache that comes with ongoing maintenance costs of WYSIWYG rich text editor development. By seamlessly integrating our TinyMCE rich text editor into your software projects, you can totally avoid the additional work and costs of maintaining your own editor.

Paying attention to your WYSIWYG users over time 

Yet another aspect of maintenance is taking the time to pay attention to your user’s behavior, and how that affects the evolution of WYSIWYG rich text editors in general. 

Rich text editors have evolved as writers find new ways of communicating online. Thinking back to the days of Myspace, editors only allowed for plain text. The theme of the Myspace page determined things such as fonts and headings. By applying HTML, Myspace users could edit and style their profiles. It was only with the introduction of color, font, and other styling features that accounts with style became commonplace.

Users no longer needed a solid grasp of HTML tags to communicate.

And it was only the work of the dedicated experts at Myspace that brought on that change. They did it by paying attention to their users' habits and predilections – and armed with that knowledge, they were able to adapt their text editor into a rich text editor.

Similarly, as long-standing experts in WYSIWYG rich text editor development, we track subtle trends in how users behave, pass that information to our developers, and they then develop relevant and useful features for our users.

Where to from here? Prioritize savings on maintenance costs

If you have any doubts about how to handle maintenance in your software project, especially if your product is heading through the planning stages, get in touch with our support team. We can not only recommend a rich text editor solution for you, but we’ll also save you the ongoing cost of rich text editor maintenance after your product launch. 

byJoe Robinson

Technical and creative writer, editor, and a TinyMCE advocate. An enthusiast for teamwork, open source software projects, and baking. Can often be found puzzling over obscure history, cryptic words, and lucid writing.

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