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Rich Text Editor developers in 2021: survey says full-stack all the way

Published November 2nd, 2021

Usually considered a front-end UI component and/or API, it appears that rich text editors (RTEs) aren’t the shy retiring components we all thought. They’re primarily being used by full-stack developers, for more complex major projects.

Di Mace

Communications Specialist at Tiny


As one of the most surprisingly complex components to create — especially when a single button like ‘Bold’ can have 40+ different calls and interactions — this finding has big implications. For developers, teams and companies.

Similarly, in an average (but simple) RTE, the ‘Enter’ key performs over 100 different actions depending on where you are and what you’re doing… and that doesn’t take into consideration browser compatibility or other dependencies built into your product. So it seems that building your own RTE isn’t something that just any developer can achieve.

There’s indications of even deeper challenges for your dev team talent pool. With over 80% of respondents self-rating their experience as high, the Rich Text Editor 2021 Survey results clearly debunk the theory of hands-off involvement in an RTE after it’s integration into a product, project or platform. It seems RTEs really are a developer’s BFF!

Who responded?

With the advent of COVID-19, a wider gamut of companies are investing in their tech stack and platforms and trying to stay ahead of both the competition and the innovation curve. How they’re doing that, may surprise you.

TAKEAWAY

Choose an easy, user-friendly interface that’s suitable for both developers
and non-code users:

  • Lowers ongoing support requests from non-coders
  • Increases user base opportunities
  • Maximizes productivity across workflows


How many years experience do you need to use RTEs?

Despite finding their first home within those websites of yesteryear, rich text editors are now all grown up. They’ve become the silent stalwart — a fundamental component that’s always there to support you — yet is surprisingly complex to build, maintain and update. It’s likely for that reason, that the majority of the survey respondents were senior developers, with 10+ years experience.

It may also reflect the fact that the survey sample leaned towards full-time developers, who are more likely working on complex projects where the RTE is an integrated component of another product — thus requiring senior expertise.

Takeaway

Rich text editor onboarding procedures, and support, must reduce friction and speed set-up:

  • Ensures a wider base of users are learning the underlying importance and uses of RTEs
  • Early exposure of young developers to RTEs aids market longevity, loyalty, and usage
  • RTE skills are carried forward throughout careers

How often do people really develop with their editor?

We get it, generally most people choose a component, integrate it, ignore a few releases and then finally update to the latest version. However, because RTEs are such core components within a diverse range of applications, it seems developers are frequently working with them, updating them and fine tuning their capabilities.

An extension of the same (now overturned) assumption of intermittent use, is the idea that the more frequently a user works with an RTE, the more entwined it becomes within their systems. In turn, that grows the users’ skills and experience with rich text editors.

With over 80% of respondents self-rating their experience as high, the 2021 survey results clearly debunk the theory of hands-off involvement in an RTE, after it’s integration into a product, project or platform. It seems RTEs really are a developer’s BFF!

It’s taken years to create the hundreds of tools used by websites. Equally, Rich Text Editors have taken decades to create a simple experience that’s used by millions.

Takeaway

Developers must have full access to easily customise and adapt RTE base code:

  • Able to mould code around their needs (but does the core meet the open source test?)
  • Flexible code and configurations to suit the specific projects and/or products being built
  • The ability to pick and choose features that fit the use case

Read more insights from the complete RTE 2021 Survey Report, or download a copy

Read more

Preferred programming languages

Given the future of rich text editing relies on developers, it’s vital to understand the programming languages they use (and favour). PHP is predominant, followed by JavaScript — and while there’s a cluster of other languages noted, just as significant is a segment of no-code respondents using rich text editors.

Rich Text Editors are one of the Internet’s primary tools that produce terabytes of content daily.

RECRUITMENT TIP

Not all languages are the same, nor are all developers. When recruiting developers, it sometimes pays to not solely look for 10+ years’ experience in niche languages. Instead, focus on the ability to problem solve and learn quickly on the fly — because industry changes aren’t slowing down anytime soon.


What front end framework do you use?

Not unexpectedly, ‘React’ and ‘Bootstrap’ ranked equal first in usage, but what was most interesting is that ‘Regular HTML/CSS/JS’ ranked equally to those two frameworks. Whilst we’re currently in an era of new frameworks emerging, none of them have quite reached the full adoption that some developers might have been expecting.

This could signify the importance of ensuring the provision of APIs for custom work — to support those people who are not using an off-the-shelf framework. It also highlights the need for quality documentation and 24/7 support to answer integration queries from developers.

Frequently asked questions

How can I read the full report?

Read and download the complete report here


Did only TinyMCE users take the survey?

No, it was open to all software professionals across various industries, roles, and geographic locations


How can I ask questions or give feedback?

Please direct questions or comments about the survey to team@tiny.cloud


I’d like to participate in the next survey. Can I sign up for alerts?

The best way to receive news about the Rich Text Editor Survey is to sign up for our monthly newsletter, below

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