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Best JavaScript rich text editor

Elise Bentley

March 17th, 2021

Written by

Elise Bentley

Category

Engineering

Whether you’re building a blogging platform, a word processor, a chat app, a design tool, or something else, you’ll want to make sure you use the best JavaScript rich text editor you can find. 

The right features can make or break your product, so let’s take a look at 16 features you should look for when comparing JavaScript text editors.

1. Fast setup

It’s great when you can get external components set up, integrated, and functioning as quickly as possible. Especially when your backlog is already packed with tasks or you’re on a tight release deadline. 

With the TinyMCE Cloud subscription, you can create an API key and set up the editor in just 6 lines of code, and deployed in under 5 minutes. That means you can focus on other components, customization, and getting the user experience just right.

2. Self-hosted and cloud options

While there are certainly benefits to using cloud components in your products (and it’s the preferred option by most developers and companies), sometimes you’ll need the option to self-host your JavaScript text editor and other elements. Maybe you need more control over your components for security, cost, or compliance reasons.

TinyMCE offers both. Check out the Cloud plans here or get the latest self-hosted release.

3. Open source

The source code in open source software is open and available to users. With no limits on downloads, installations, copies, and modifications, you can use the code however you want to. This kind of freedom is invaluable in a JavaScript rich text editor, especially if you’d like to customize the software or create an entirely new product. 

As the world’s most popular open source WYSIWYG HTML editor, the TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor is free forever. That means it’s perfect for integrating into any project, even if you just want to experiment with a text editor without having to invest upfront.

4. Essential core plugins

You should be able to use your JavaScript rich text editor in its most basic form without having to pay for extras. That way, you can enjoy a fully functioning rich text editor (that won’t feel like it’s missing something) and only upgrade when you’re ready for extra functionality.

All versions of TinyMCE offer the core plugins, including:

5. Powerful premium plugins

Maybe you don’t want a basic JavaScript text editor. Maybe you want something that you can extend with more advanced capabilities like accessibility, comments, and Real-time Collaboration

For example, here are some of TinyMCE’s most popular premium plugins:

  • Accessibility Checker - Make it easier for content authors to check and improve accessibility in line with industry standards
  • Advanced Code Editor - Easily edit content in HTML mode
  • Enhanced Media Embed - Embed media from popular content sources
  • Export - Generate a lightweight PDF from content
  • PowerPaste - Easily paste text from Word and Excel without breaking formatting and underlying HTML
  • Spell Checker Pro - Guarantee globally consistent spelling and enable simultaneous multi-language spell check 

Here’s how you can get started with our premium plugins if you’re self-hosting. If you’re cloud-hosting, it’s even easier

6. Toolbar customization

It’s always good to have options, especially when it comes to your rich text editor toolbar. Toolbar customization can enable you to control the user experience, minimize distractions, prioritize important functions, and control what type of content users can produce. 

With TinyMCE, you can configure and customize the toolbar to hide some functions, highlight others, or remove it entirely.

7. Modern interface and aesthetics

Screenshot of the TinyMCE editor

This applies to both the developer experience and your users’ experience. Users shouldn’t feel like they’re being transported back to the 90s every time they add a comment or write a post. The default design of your JavaScript text editor should look modern, and fit right into any contemporary, up-to-date UI. The design should work out-of-the-box, without needing a lot of customization. Users should be able to edit and add text in much the same way as other products they’re used to, like Google Docs and Microsoft Word.

At the same time, implementing and maintaining your text editor should be intuitive and enjoyable - and it should reflect the aesthetics you’d expect from a modern, up-to-date tool.

8. UI customization

While your JavaScript rich text editor should be ready to go out-of-the-box, it’s also ideal if you can customize the UI to make it seamlessly fit your product. Some tools (like TinyMCE) offer skin and icon packs so you can quickly match your editor’s UI to popular design systems, like Fabric (Microsoft Office), Material Design (Google), and Bootstrap. Or combine elements from skin or icon packs to create an editor UI that best fits your app.

Learn more about Tiny’s skin and icon packs or see examples here.

9. Real-time collaboration

Real-time collaboration is increasingly an essential part of any rich text editor, as products become increasingly collaborative. The future of content creation looks like multiple people in a live document at the same time so that they can improve workflows, reduce friction, and speed up the publishing process. We expect this will be the norm for all JavaScript rich text editors (and the apps that use them) within the next 12 months.

Tiny’s Real-time Collaboration technology is now in closed cloud beta, with a public release coming very shortly. Register your interest to get updates on our Real-time Collaboration release as we go through testing and open up this feature to more customers.

10. Inline editing

These days, most content creators prefer to edit content directly in applications or web pages without switching between edit and view modes. It means they can see the rest of the content while editing, which provides valuable context. That’s why many developers favor rich text editors that offer inline editing, with the option to show a menu or toolbar for formatting options.

11. Easy integration

Look for a tool that has plenty of native integrations - it’ll make setting up and maintaining your app a lot easier. 

For example, TinyMCE can easily integrate with JavaScript libraries, including React, Vue.js, Node.js, and AngularJS, plus content management systems like WordPress and Joomla! If you need a specific integration but can’t find documentation on it, reach out to the sales or support team. Chances are, they can point you in the right direction, or may even help you set up the integration.

12. Accessibility

Accessibility has always been important, but users and developers are more aware of it now than ever. Your content authoring experience should be as accessible as possible - and support your content authors to create content that’s accessible by their audience. 

Find a JavaScript text editor that offers built-in accessibility features, and is designed around popular standards, like WCAG. This might mean ensuring that images come with a field to enter alternative text. Or perhaps that users can easily navigate the editor options using a keyboard only. Or even including a built-in accessibility checker that finds accessibility issues in the content to help authors make improvements before the content goes live.

Read more in our blog about how to make your content accessible with TinyMCE.

13. Mobile accessibility

By 2021, all apps and websites should be mobile-friendly, responsive, and work on any screen size. But it’s not always straightforward when integrating complex components like a JavaScript text editor. Small details can make or break the experience. So, make sure your text editor considers the mobile experience, especially when it comes to toolbars, tables, and scrolling.

The team at Tiny have been hard at work improving our mobile experience over the last few years. Now, the TinyMCE editor detects the platform to deliver an ideal UI, based on the device type and screen size.

14. Solid documentation

Every developer knows that a product is only as good as its documentation. You need to be able to find and understand docs that cover setup, features, integrations, and troubleshooting. So, before you even test out a potential JavaScript text editor, read through the documentation and make sure that it makes sense. If you’re not sure, message the support team - this can also help you gauge their speed and effectiveness. 

Check out Tiny’s docs and make sure you can find everything you might need.

15. Stability

Check the update history - it’s the best way to see how active or stable a project is, and whether it’s likely to be easy to maintain or cause headaches. If you’re looking at a product that hasn’t been updated in years, it’s likely that development has stalled and you may have trouble getting support if you find a bug or want to request a new feature. 

At the same time, you may want to exercise caution if a product has updates released too regularly. This might mean it’s still in its early stages of development and testing, and may be less stable.

You can see from Tiny’s GitHub updates that we regularly release updates to some components, while some may remain untouched for a year or more.

16. WYSIWYG!

A lot of JavaScript rich text editors claim to be WYSIWYG, but many of them fall short. Make sure that you test out a range of different JavaScript WYSIWYG editors to see how the user experience compares - does the input closely match the output?

Check out this blog we wrote about “How WYSIWYG is your editor?”.

JavaScript rich text editor checklist

Here’s a handy checklist you can tick off when evaluating rich text editors:

  • Fast setup (~5 mins)
  • Self-hosted and cloud available
  • Open source
  • Core plugins
  • Premium plugins
  • Customizable toolbar
  • Modern UI
  • Customizable UI
  • Real-time collaboration
  • In-line editing
  • Easy integration
  • Accessibility
  • Mobile accessible
  • Good documentation
  • WYSIWYG

Find the best JavaScript rich text editor for you

Is Tiny the best JavaScript rich text editor? Well, it does tick all the boxes! But we believe that the best text editor has to be the best fit for what you need. So check out our full list of features and plugins and try our demos to see if it matches up with what you’re looking for. Or check out this blog from Tiny customer, Marty Friedel on why he chose TinyMCE.

Reach out to our support team if you’d like to discuss your use case and we’ll let you know what options we’d recommend. And if you’d like a specific feature, integration, or custom setup, we’ll do our best to help and might even add it to our roadmap.

What do you think is the best JavaScript rich text editor? Or what features are on your wishlist? Let us know over on Twitter @joinTiny.

Open SourceTinyMCE
byElise Bentley

Senior Director of Marketing at Tiny. Elise has marketing experience across a range of industries and organisation sizes, and loves to blend the creative aspect of marketing together with data to develop engaging and effective marketing strategies and campaigns.

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