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It’s hard to find a good chameleon

April 27th, 2021

6 min read

Image of someone holding a green chameleon in their hand.  by Amy Humphries

Written by

Ben Long


Developer Insights

When you are building products that depend on other third party components, think about choosing chameleon components - they can save you a lot of time and money.

Every time you commit to a new third party component, you need to consider a range of factors; for example, ongoing costs, the time it will take to learn how it best integrates with your products, the quality of the support provided, scalability, and whether it will keep up with your level of growth and innovation.

Chameleon components can alleviate or even remove the burdens associated with these factors and the need to think through them.

What are chameleon components?

We think of chameleon components as being those that can be used more than once in your products in a variety of scenarios.

A chameleon component reduces the overheads involved in using third party components. You only need to make that painful, initial investment once. Sure, there are ongoing costs, but they’re much more manageable when you’re continuing with a familiar and trusted partner. Once you’ve made the initial commitment, as long as the component is flexible and continuously innovating, you can keep throwing it at a variety of scenarios, and it simply blends in.

When you have a use case that appears more than once in your product, or product suite even, you want to be able to reuse as much as possible. As your product is maturing, and getting a larger user base, you want to know that any third party components are up to the task. And as you continue to innovate, you don’t want your third party components to be holding you back - they need to be transforming and innovating with you.

It’s hard to find a good chameleon 🦎 😂 So when you find one, hold on to it!

Gif of a graphic chameleon walking

What makes a good chameleon component?

There are a lot of factors that make a component a good chameleon, but we think these ones probably make up the top four:

  1. Integrable - You can integrate it with your existing products or development frameworks with little effort.
  2. Customizable - It’s easy to modify to suit specific scenarios and user experiences.
  3. Innovative - It keeps evolving with the latest concepts and technologies and doesn’t hold you back from innovating in your product. It enables and, ideally, drives innovation in your products.
  4. Trusted - You can rely on it to perform correctly and efficiently, and to provide top quality support if required.

What makes TinyMCE a good chameleon component?

Perhaps we can shed more light on this concept by drawing on our own experiences as a provider of such components at Tiny. Our flagship product, TinyMCE, is a WYSIWYG rich text editor, used as the text entry component in over 100 million software products worldwide. It has been adapted to suit all kinds of products - check out 9 products you can build with TinyMCE.

We have specifically built TinyMCE with these factors in mind.

1. Integrable

TinyMCE has been designed to be easily integrated with any front-end framework. Converting an existing textarea into a fully-functional rich text editor is as simple as adding six lines of code.

We also provide specific libraries for integrating with the most popular JavaScript frameworks - like Angular, React, and Vue - to make it easier to work with and maintain.

We’ve blogged about these integrations here:

A blog built with TinyMCE

2. Customizable

TinyMCE is highly customizable, which means developers can modify it to fit almost any scenario that requires text entry from users.

  • User options - Customize the options and features you provide to users of your application. Provide a smaller set of options, for example, to create a comment box, or provide a larger set of options, for example, to create an online word processor.
  • Look and feel - Change the appearance or the position of the menus to fit in with your desired user experience, or change the skins and icons to match the rest of your product. We provide a range of prebuilt skins, but you can also create your own with our TinyMCE skin tool.
  • Extendable - The core editor is completely open source which means you can view the code and modify it to suit your own needs. If you need some functionality that is not already covered by our huge range of plugins, you can create your own TinyMCE plugin.

3. Innovative

At Tiny, we have a responsibility not only to maintain the editor but also to keep up with current trends, and sometimes set the trends as pioneers for the rest of the industry.

For instance, productivity on mobile devices has never been greater, and businesses are rethinking their digital transformation strategies to stay ahead of the curve. As the demand for mobile productivity increases, we want to make sure we are ready for however your users want to interact with your products – at their desk or on the move. Last year, we released TinyMCE 5.1 in which we completely redesigned the editor with a mobile-first mindset – a 100% fully responsive design, adapting to all devices and screen sizes.

Looking further ahead, there continues to be a growing need for better collaboration solutions in more of our online applications, especially for e-learning software and digital workplace solutions. We already have premium plugins that enable you to add comments and @mentions, but we’re also now well on our way to offering real-time collaboration. Tiny’s real-time collaboration is currently in closed beta and we’re offering limited access to select customers.

Our customers who are running TinyMCE from the cloud get updates automatically, which means that their users get all the latest and greatest features without having to even lift a finger.

A note-taking app built with TinyMCE

4. Trusted

One of the reasons TinyMCE is the most popular rich text editor is that it has been around for a while with a name you can trust, being a foundational component in many of the world’s leading content-driven applications.

Our engineers are the best in their field. Some have worked with us for many years and have a lot of experience with the concepts and the codebase. Others have joined us more recently, and have been chosen for their passion for learning and engineering excellence.

You just have to read some of our recent blog posts by our talented engineers to get an idea of their cutting-edge thinking:

Furthermore, our open source core business model gives developers peace of mind, while still offering enterprise-level support. Whether you are looking for solutions to your content or productivity needs, or you have questions about how to get started with TinyMCE, we have a devoted, friendly support team who is ready to help out at any time.

What next?

When it comes to the power and flexibility of our WYSIWYG editor, you’ve really got to see it to believe it, so stick around and check out 9 products you can build with TinyMCE.

If you want to play around with TinyMCE yourself, use the quickstart guide to get an instance of the editor up and running quickly, and you can check out our article on 3 ways to try TinyMCE.

Contact us to find out more about how we are helping other developers create the best applications for their users.

Multiple users writing simultaneously with Tiny’s real-time collaboration.

byBen Long

Computer scientist, storyteller, teacher, and an advocate of TinyMCE. Reminisces about programming on the MicroBee. Writes picture books for kids. Also the wearer of rad shoes. “Science isn’t finished until you share the story.”

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