Looking for a rich text editor? See the future in 2023 Rich Text Editor Developer Survey Report
Published Nov 8th, 2023
9 min read
Our 2023 Rich Text Editor Developer Survey results gave glimpses of the future: users migrating, new technologies being employed, and an AI takeover is looming. But then again, there's also clear indications that some RTEs are performing better than others and are delivering on their role, really well.
Director, Content and Communications at Tiny
Rich text editors are crucial components in modern, agile tech stacks. They offer almost limitless opportunities for reuse when deployed via APIs and allow businesses to scale faster, with less drain on development resources. But, how those rich text editors perform and how much value they add to an organization's workflow, content management setup, data capture processes and productivity, affects the level of satisfaction felt by its users.
The results show there's two clear leaders – TinyMCE and CKEditor – with a commanding market share. More than half (58%) of the developers surveyed most often used either editor. There’s also clear indications that developers envisage a future for rich text editors that’s heavily impacted by the various forms of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology.
A must-read section covers the eternal debate of Buy vs Building a key component, and the crucial contribution buying a rich text editor can make to the agility, velocity and productivity of your company.
Read on to glimpse the future of rich text editing, in the 2023 State of Rich Text Editor Developer Survey results.
What paradigm shifts do you see coming? What big game-changing features do you anticipate in the future?
This open text question encouraged participants to envision the future of the rich text editing industry and predict new features, based on the emerging trends and changing needs that they’re observing today.
The shift that’s expected to most heavily impact rich text editors is the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Widespread speculation on how an AI integration could manifest – Generative AI, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, and other automation techniques – to assist in in-editor content creation and integration.
Other themes mentioned include automation, collaboration, and voice-to-text technology. These themes are summarized below.
AI integration: AI will play a crucial role in streamlining content creation and integration.
Automation: Automation will significantly improve efficiency in rich text editors.
Collaboration: Collaborative tools will enhance communication and teamwork.
Voice-to-text: Voice-to-text technology will simplify data entry processes.
What features do you expect to become standard in rich text editors within the next two years?
Another open text question, where participants considered upcoming advancements in technology itself, as well as the rich text editor industry. The top result was once again AI, indicating significant progress is expected across the industry and the integration of AI into general everyday conversation.
Similar themes emerge as the previous question (paradigm shifts), including voice recognition and transcription, collaboration tools, and enhanced integration with other software. However, new themes also emerge, such as clean copy/pasting, industry-wide adoption of top-notch features, optimization for mobile usage, and multi-language support.
Robust AI integration (generative, predictive, spelling/ grammar check, autoformatting, etc.)
Seamless copy/pasting regardless of input source
Industry-wide adoption of best-in-class features from MS Word and Google Docs
Which rich text editor do you use most often or centrally in your projects?
TinyMCE and CKEditor, hold a commanding market share between them, with more than half (58%) of the participants using them most often.
TinyMCE is the most popularly used editor, with 32% of participants centrally using it in their development projects.
CKEditor is used by 26% of participants.
Custom-built editors: Coming in third place, custom-built editors have a 12% share. This indicates that there is a significant group of developers who prefer to create their own editors, tailored to their specific needs.
Less popular players: The remainder of the market is spread across various other editors that are not as widely used as TinyMCE, CKEditor, or custom-built editors. Although these players may have a smaller market share, it's important to understand that they cater to specific user preferences and needs, and help to deliver a diverse range of choices to users.
Rich Text Editor Used Most Often
What rich text editors have you ever used, or have experience in using?
It seems developers tend to experiment and try out different versions and editors before deciding on a primary rich text editor provider. Although some individuals may try or prefer using open-source editors, the majority ultimately choose one of the two major providers that offer a combination of open-source and premium, paid offerings.
TinyMCE and CKEditor offer a more comprehensive, fully-featured and extensively supported product that satisfies the needs of most users.
Rich Text Editors Tried or Used
What are the main reasons you chose/used a particular editor for your most recent project?
As an open text question, this allowed participants to share the underlying drivers behind their choice of rich text editor. The results clustered into eight thematic groupings:
- Easy to use/user friendly
- Easy to integrate and implement
- Easy to customize
- Powerful and highly customizable
- Many features, richness of features, plug-ins, rich API
- Collaboration features
What drives your choice to buy and use a ready-made rich text editor, as opposed to building your own?
Unsurprisingly, the decision between buy or build is heavily influenced by cost considerations. Cost is the determining factor both in the short-term – with development time and resource costs – as well as in the long-term, encompassing ongoing development and maintenance. Notably, these cost drivers have experienced a significant increase in 2023, which may reflect the economic volatility in the previous year.
In addition to cost, the speed of development and ease of implementation remain crucial factors that drive the decision to purchase a ready-made editor.
The decision to buy is further validated by the knowledge that it takes US$15–28M+ and 115–220 person-years to build the core editor of TinyMCE or CKEditor (excl. Maintenance and extensibility work).
Note: This question allows people to select multiple options.
Drivers to Buy a Ready-made Rich Text Editor
The Great Debate: Buy vs Build a Rich Text Editor
Agile businesses are combining buying, subscribing, or renting, with building, to iteratively reshape and assemble a flexible software stack.READ THE WHITE PAPER
What drives your choice to build your own rich text editor (RTE) as opposed to using a ready-made editor?
Those who choose to develop their own rich text editor in-house, possess the internal knowledge and resources required to pursue this approach and believe that utilizing these resources is a preferable alternative to investing funds in a solution that may not fully meet their specific needs.
The key reasons are increased control and flexibility over how the editor interacts with their applications.
This highlights the opportunity for more extensive customization options, enhanced control, and use cases that are best served by a headless rich text editor.
Note: This question allows people to select multiple options.
Drivers to Build Your Own Rich Text Editor
What’s your preferred deployment option for your rich text editor?
Deployment options are an important gauge of the speed of transformation being undertaken across the digital landscape. Despite the continuing race to achieve digital speeds required for large scale digital transformations, ‘Self-hosted’ remains the preferred option (40%). Cloud deployment (38%) continues to slowly grow, while just under 20% seek a hybrid option.
In the next two years, is it likely that you’ll change the way you deploy your rich text editor?
This question delved into the intention to change rich text editors and is indicative of the fluidity of the market. The results reveal that half the users are considering switching editors, indicating:
Users aren’t completely satisfied and are searching for a better option, with some expressing the need for additional features.
The rapid pace of innovation across the technology sector is driving organizations to constantly look for the next ‘breakthrough’ in performance, features, or lower cost.
Notably, in 2023, more users are contemplating switching rich text editors as compared to previous years. This change is likely being driven by digital transformation
In technology, a two-year window is a long time. Therefore, because it’s widely accepted that significant changes are a given, switching essential tech stack components, like a rich text editor, is a given within that time frame.
Likelihood of Changing Deployment Within 2 Years
Frequently asked questions
How can I read the full report?
Read the complete RTE 2023 Developer Survey Results 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Director, Content and Communications
Messaging strategist and copywriter whose passion lies in working with brands like Tiny, that have deep-seated values and embrace the power of their story. She gets a kick out of solving problems, loves learning new things and making stuff, every day. When she’s not thinking through clever copy lines or clarifying value propositions, she’s knitting amazing socks for everyone she knows.