Rich Text Editors 2023 Developer Survey: Highlights and trends towards AI
Published September 13th, 2023
7 min read
Now in its third year, the State of Rich Text Editors Developer Survey is the world's largest review of both the trends and desires of the broader developer community that works with Rich Text Editors (RTEs).
Director, Content and Communications at Tiny
The survey reflects how developers learn, and level up their skills with rich text editors, which tools and frameworks they're using and what’s being built. It also highlights areas where rich text editors’ need to lift their game. Or, developers are likely to quickly move on to the editor-in-waiting.
This presents both a challenge, and opportunity for rich text editor builders.
They need to not only continuously, and noticeably, improve the base capabilities of WYSIWYG editors, but also incorporate the rapidly changing technology of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Most importantly, AI needs to be incorporated not just to satisfy the latest buzzword claims, but be truly useful in improving the editors’ capabilities, as well as enhancing the content creation outputs of users.
However, while these innovative features are desirable and very topical, the market also needs to refocus on the fundamentals:
- Better explain the opportunities to customize an editor
- Help every skill and knowledge level, to easily get started
- Provide comprehensive support, documentation and community outreach.
When a rich text editor doesn’t do the basics well, or integration and customization are too hard, it’s the editor that loses out. Not developers. They quickly move on and choose another – any of the three types of WYSIWYG on the market – that better suits their project, use case and tech stack to further their digital transformation plans.
Read on for the key insights and trends that emerged in the 2023 State of Rich Text Editor Developer Survey, that are shaping the world of rich text editing.
2023 developer survey highlight – the AI takeover
Technology’s rate of change is nothing short of rampant. But thus far, nothing compares to the emergence of Generative AI, from the shadowy sidelines into mainstream rich text editor development.
For some time, AI has quietly improved certain rich text editor capabilities, but it’s only with the release of ChatGPT and its Large Language Model (LLM) in late 2022 that its true power was felt by the wider population.
Unbeknown to many, AI has played a key role in collaboration for some time, but the emergence of Generative AI shows it can also generate human-like responses, suggest improvements, analyze SEO best practices, and more. Over time, rich text editors will integrate these generative content, layout, and optimization features into the overall WYSIWYG editing process, to deliver an enhanced, and more productive user experience.
AI-powered assistance in content discovery and optimization will augment the creative process of content creation, balancing automation and human creativity without replacing it. The future of rich text editing lies in the integration of AI technologies, and we are only at the beginning of this exciting journey.
4 key 2023 trends in rich text editors
1. Rich text editors maintain their position as a critical component of platforms and applications, across both internal and commercial products
Over three-quarters (77%) of respondents agree rich text editing is an extremely important component within a product. Contrastingly, the number who believe it’s not important, is almost negligible. This result recognizes that rich text editors have become an essential and ubiquitous component within the majority of platforms, apps and software.
It similarly recognizes that a poor performing or out-of-date and inflexible editor, negatively impacts the performance and user experience of an app. Users are accustomed to easily and quickly formating, structuring and enhancing their content, but without a user-friendly rich text editor, that’s almost impossible.
2. AI is demonstrably shaping the market and engineering expectations of what rich text editors need to offer in the not-too-distant future
The launch of ChatGPT by OpenAI in November of 2022 demonstrated the remarkable potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and has led to the widespread adoption and democratization of this technology across the tech and media industries. It’s revolutionizing the way text is created and edited, and redefining the possibilities for rich text editors (RTEs).
Users now expect cutting-edge advancements and complete integration with generative Large Language Models (LLMs) that are trained on trillions of words across many natural-language tasks, or with predictive AI, and include advanced features such as AI-driven spelling and grammar checks, intelligent formatting, and enhanced customization.
In the longer term, the market foresees rich text editors will potentially carry the technology to convert voice-to-text – using voice recognition technology – as well as more seamless integration with other software programs.
3. The fundamentals of performance and security remain of utmost importance for a rich text editor (73% and 70% T2B, respectively)
Three other factors closely follow performance and security in rich text editors: easy customization, quick and user-friendly onboarding, and a familiar UI that resembles popular applications like MS Word or Google Docs. Users are looking for an editing experience that’s user-friendly, intuitive and is reminiscent of what they’re accustomed to with major editing platforms.
While it may be challenging for market leaders to keep pace with advances and innovations, it’s a mandatory expectation from within the market, that the best rich text editors’ closely monitor and adopt critical new features that emerge from other technology giants.
4. Challenges point to possibilities for rich text editor improvements in the fundamentals
A significant number of participants didn’t report any significant frustrations with their rich text editor. However, the primary sources of frustration for rich text editor users are difficulties with manipulating specific content (particularly media files), along with restricted feature availability, integration with other tools, and widespread issues with cleanly copy-pasting content from external sources.
Users also commonly cite inadequate documentation, lack of autosave functionality, and concerns regarding speed, security and overall stability as issues.
Developer survey changes
Several changes were made following the inaugural State of Rich Text Editors 2021 Report and again with the State of Rich Text Editors 2022 Report. These were designed to gather more granular data and explore more deeply the key areas of development for rich text editors. The 2022 changes included:
- Additional questions were included, relating to –
- Programming languages
- Perceived value
- Important RTE features
- Future technology
- Potential paradigm shifts in rich text editing
None of the 2021 questions were removed, which has enabled year-on-year comparisons of the text editor usage statistics collected.
Statistical validity of 2023 results
This year, 1,100+ professionals completed the State of Rich Text Editors Developer Survey, delivering a 3% margin of error at a 95% confidence level. The study was completed by 4x as many respondents this year, showing that the survey is growing in popularity, adds value to the community, and that the results can be considered valid generalized guidance on the attitudes, approaches and current trends occurring in the rich text editor market.
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.