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Building a rich text editor is expensive

Buy vs build cost blowouts

Do we buy, or
do we build?

It’s a familiar question…

that arises in almost every development project,
no matter the size.

Rich Text Editors (RTEs) are one of the highest-risk areas
for both cost and development time overruns.


Wolfram & Hart


Montgomery Burns


Baxter Stockman



Four companies* who decided to build their own
core rich text editor in-house, paid dearly for their decision.

How did they get that $ price tag?

Some enterprises still persist in believing they need to build their own… everything.



of organizations say IT completed
all their projects++

fewer than

4 IN 10


fulfil their project commitments
to business stakeholders++


development cost for an advanced
copy-paste feature


person-years to build an advanced
copy-paste feature

$15M — $28M+

development cost for
a basic rich text editor

115 — 220

person-years to build a basic rich text editor

Transformation and speed-to-market have made the old belief, in custom-building all your own technology, redundant. Neither budget, nor developer resources, are elastic.

What’s the answer?

Buy vs Build isn’t
the conundrum

It’s how you build everything you need…
at scale

A more agile approach is to assemble rich text editor components into a flexible, reusable tech stack.

Either… buy an out-of-the-box RTE or utilize an open source core that your dev team can use as a framework for customization and support it with advanced feature plugins.
You then get the best of everything

Using a buy-and-assemble component approach for your rich text editor

Minimizes custom-build

outside your expertise


continuous deployment of software

Maximizes dev talent

who pick the exact tools needed

That’s how you get products faster-to-market at a smaller
price tag

Get more insights in our
Buy vs Build White Paper

Download the White Paper

In a rush?

Download the ‘Building a rich text editor is expensive’ Infographic and read it later


*Company and personal details are fictional, but indicative of the costs and time taken to build a functioning rich text editor.

++ Mulesoft 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report
A person-month is equivalent to approximately 160 hours of labor, and is the amount of work performed by a single average worker in one month (ie. 12 person-month project will take 4 developers 3 months work to finish). A person-year is the total effort in person-months divided by twelve, to estimate the project length in years.

+ Estimate of the cost of building the basic open source components of three leading rich text editors (excluding advanced features and plugins)

^ Using a normalized COCOMO Model, the estimated engineering requirements for building a single clean copy-paste advanced feature


The Great Debate: Buy vs Build Rich Text Editors

Buy vs Build: Clean copy-paste feature cost estimate

All cost estimates quoted are in US$


The rich text editor behind great content creation experiences

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