WYSIWY.... - wait, you want what?
April 29, 2008 2:48 PM   Subscribe

My employer is searching for an end-user friendly, drag-n-drop, WYSIWYG webpage editor that is neither a CMS or a web hosting panel. Does something like this exist?

I think my employer is asking for the impossible, but I'm trying anyways. Can anyone suggest solutions to solve the following requirements:

1.) A very simple/basic drag-n-drop WYSIWYG web page editor for small "mom/pop businesses" that might only need less than 5 static web pages (doesnt need to handle dynamic / complex content)

2.) Is an online (server side) editor (NOT an application the user has to download or configure). We need it to be drop dead stupid simple to use.

3.) Wont require much (if any) support on our backend. (in a perfect world, the ideal solution would be some kind of a PHP script we can automate the installation when a customer calls up to have the service activated.) (for the record, our backend is mostly FreeBSD and Apache with a minor amount of Windows IIS)

4.) Not a CMS or Hosting Control Panel (cPanel/Plesk). Those things are overkill for our needs. We are primarily an ISP, not a hosting company. (unless you can make a good argument for a hosting control panel)

The closest thing I've found (from searching past AskMe's) is Flyspeck , unfortunately their website appears to be "down" at the moment. Its a clean simple PHP script that is only $200-ish for unlimited license. Problem is its functionality is almost to basic. (its not "drag-n-drop" enough)

Other than that. I'm kinda coming up short. It seems like the industry has really moved away from simple editors and towards CMS/Hosting Panels. I'd love to recommend to my company to tweak our backend to support installs of Wordpress/Drupal, but they seem reluctant to consider that as a viable option. ("Our target customer for this project isnt savvy enough to handle a CMS" - and - "we dont want to burden our web dev or support team to have to support CMS questions that might come up.")

Its frustrating me because its kinda like that old joke. "For technical solutions , your options are: "Fast", "Cheap" or "easy" but you can only pick 2. (and my company wants all 3)
posted by jmnugent to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
posted by acro at 2:52 PM on April 29, 2008

Maybe Google Page Creator? It doesn't have very many features but it's very simple to use. You can also use it in conjunction with Google Apps to host static pages on a specific domain.
posted by burnmp3s at 3:03 PM on April 29, 2008


I like that, but I dont understand how an end-user accesses it. If its not part of a CMS, Blog or Hosting Control panel, where does the end-user go to turn on the editor?

Lets say for example we scripted the process to create the end-users first webpage (index.html). Is there a way to password protect the editing functions?. Because we obviously dont want any public web surfer being able to modify the end-users content.
posted by jmnugent at 3:07 PM on April 29, 2008

HTMLarea is a directory of wyswiyg editors. I'm not familiar with the site now, but awhile ago they distributed a similar editor, and now maintain a directory. There's also firefox extension, Xinha-here that adds a WYSWIG editor to a textbox/textarea. Additional info on Xinha-here.
posted by ejaned8 at 3:10 PM on April 29, 2008

Will Google Page Creator allow our end users to update and modify sites that are hosted on our servers? (or another way of asking: Can we use Google Page Creator but make it transparent to the end user ?)
posted by jmnugent at 3:15 PM on April 29, 2008

FCKeditor is integrated into some wiki products I've installed, but I haven't installed it separately before... I would think that it would relatively easy to include the code in your html page (the docs page has scripts using * SP.Net * ASP * ColdFusion * PHP * Java * Active-FoxPro * Lasso * Perl * Python. Here's an alternative commercial solution (via hotscripts).
posted by acro at 3:30 PM on April 29, 2008

Will Google Page Creator allow our end users to update and modify sites that are hosted on our servers? (or another way of asking: Can we use Google Page Creator but make it transparent to the end user ?)

I'm not a Google Page Creator expert, but as far as I know Google won't let you host the pages anywhere other than their servers.

Are they going to have anything hosted on their www subdomain other than this 5-page website? If not, you can sign up for a Google Apps account, and edit the CNAME entry in their domain to make www.[domainname].com redirect to a special link Google Apps creates. I think you can also setup the Google Page Creator editor as another subdomain, such as edit.[domainname].com. You can also setup separate accounts so that only adminstators (you) can see the complex domain settings and normal users (them) can just get to the Page Creator app.

The user wouldn't know how any of that was happening behind the scenes, once you set it up for them they can just edit it on the edit subdomain and see it on the www subdomain. Obviously the app says Google all over it, but there would be no way of knowing who's actually hosting it. I use the same method to get GMail at mail.[mydomain].com even though the rest of my domain isn't hosted by Google, and it's completely seamless.
posted by burnmp3s at 3:40 PM on April 29, 2008

Acro - http://www.wysiwygez.com/

I saw that too,.. and got excited, but their "Demos" page seems to imply that its only available as a plugin to CMS packages (Joomla/Mambo/Drupal/Wordpress,etc). :(
posted by jmnugent at 3:44 PM on April 29, 2008

burnmp3s - configuring Google Page Creator and redirects

I like the creativity of that solution, but we're hoping to avoid anything overly complex/kludgy on our backend. Meaning = if we had 50 clients asking for this, we dont want to have to jump through all those redirect hoops (and have to track/document all the setup configuration).

I'm sorry if it seems like I keep shooting down ideas. I'm not trying to poo-poo everything, I'm just being hard-nosed because I know my management team is going to do the same to me when I present all this. :|

posted by jmnugent at 3:47 PM on April 29, 2008

You might be able to work with Amaya to achieve what you want.
posted by candyland at 3:56 PM on April 29, 2008

I think Weebly might be what you are looking for.
posted by crios at 3:59 PM on April 29, 2008

You might want to check out Coffee Cup, it sounds like it will work for you
posted by Mr_Chips at 4:01 PM on April 29, 2008

candyland - "Amaya ?"
Sorry, but I need a server-side app (something they can access through a browser)

Crios - "Weebly ?"
I dont think thats gonna work for us because Weebly hosts the content on THEIR end. We need a solution that integrates with websites hosted inside our building.

Mr_Chips - "Coffee Cup ?"
I like that, but once again, its a standalone/client-side app (We need server-side and dead stupid easy but also secure)

posted by jmnugent at 4:16 PM on April 29, 2008

Nobody's mentioned cushycms yet? It's come up enough times on Ask that I started to think "shilling" at one point.

The main drawback is that you have to give them the FTP password for your site. Other than that it seems like exactly the kind of thing you need.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:27 PM on April 29, 2008

Two more:
and wikiwyg .
posted by acro at 4:40 PM on April 29, 2008

AmbroseChapel: Cuchycms

Oh..we're getting closer....
I like the slick web 2.0 implementation of that, especially how it connects to any hosted FTP site. The only caveat I can see is the "new page creation" mechanism seems kinda convoluted. We're hoping for a simpler way a client can just click "create new page" and that each HTML page would have some sort of "Edit me" link. (similar to Flyspeck.net's PHP implementation.

You get points for style. :P

posted by jmnugent at 4:52 PM on April 29, 2008

Soholaunch, maybe? I am not recommending it, since I can't in good conscience recommend something that won't work on Firefox (for crying out loud) and may not be as easy as you want, but nonetheless, the price may be right.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:52 PM on April 29, 2008

Acro ,
TinyMCE - as far as i can tell, TinyMCE is only available as a plugin for CMS's. Sorry, not what we're looking.
wikiwyg - Ok. I REALLY REALLY like the simplicity of that, but there doesnt appear to be any security (anyone would double-clicks can edit. Not a good idea. :(

Chesty_a_arthur : Soholaunch ?

Hmmm.. you might just be onto something there. Its not Free, but it appears like you can install it without needing a control panel. (although, if you choose that, I'm not sure how the end-user accesses it - still reading the FAQ's). First gut reaction - its a little overkill for our needs, but its pretty damn close.

posted by jmnugent at 5:06 PM on April 29, 2008

jmnugent, even if you install it with Fantastico, you access the front end editor by going to something like yourdomain.com/proedition.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:14 PM on April 29, 2008

chesty_a_arthur , "even if you install it with Fantastico, you access the front end editor by going to something like yourdomain.com/proedition."

But doesnt that still require some kind of (backend) hosting panel (like Plesk or cPanel) ?

I'm sorry it appears like I'm so easily confused (or its not me, and these application websites explanations are terrible)... but I cant find any definitive answer to that.

In a perfect world:
1.) We dont have to install anything on our backend. (when the client orders, we can simply copy/turn on some scripts for their domain/URL)
2.) and then the client can go to http://yourdomain/edit (or something similar) , logon (security is nice) and easily, drag-n-drop, wysiwyg manage their pages and files/folders.

posted by jmnugent at 6:43 PM on April 29, 2008

I think a lot of the confusion in this thread has come from the use of the term "page editor" in the original post. People are suggesting things like MCE, which is literally a page editor in the sense that it edits the HTML of pages you've already got.

But I think what you actually want is a CMS, even though you say it isn't.

Because you really want a remote, or third-party CMS, i.e. a CMS, but on a server other than the server with the content being managed.

This is what makes cushycms more or less unique in the marketplace -- and which of course leads to the "trust us with your password" problem.

The real solution to your problem, therefore, is something that works like cushy, but installed on your server, not theirs. Maybe that's the"2. ???" in cushy's business plan...
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:21 PM on April 29, 2008

AmbroseChapel: "But I think what you actually want is a CMS, even though you say it isn't."

Oh, trust me.. I'd install a CMS or some control panel in a heartbeat if I could :P, but they want the cheapest simplest solution.
posted by jmnugent at 7:55 PM on April 29, 2008

Thanks AmbroseChapel, cushycms looks interesting... I could see them succeeding with a business model like 37 signals, where this half-hosted approach works.
posted by acro at 8:56 PM on April 29, 2008

Radria, maybe? It's not a CMS - it's just an AJAX front-end editor to html pages. You can add in all sorts of extra functions, but it's pretty simple at the heart if you leave off all the extras.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:01 AM on April 30, 2008

But I think what you actually want is a CMS, even though you say it isn't.

Yeah, that. It seems to me like what you don't want is a whiz-bang CMS with a database backend but, instead, a simple interface to editing static html files using a WYSISYG. That's still a CMS in my book.

In that case, I still think FCKeditor/TinyMCE/etc is what you need. There's 13 pages of various projects that use FCKeditor here, but if you don't see what you're looking for there, I'm sure you could find a developer to write a simple php script that uses the editor's input to save the html files for under $200.
posted by danOstuporStar at 7:15 AM on April 30, 2008

What do they want to do? Just post news, things they have for sale and have some text describing ther business?

Consider Wordpress, really. If they are this cheep you can't afford to support FCKeditor or some hacked together scripts.
posted by bdc34 at 8:04 AM on April 30, 2008

bdc34 , "Consider Wordpress, really."

Yeah, thats the "middle-ground" answer I'd really like to convince them to consider.
1.) client calls up wanting a drop dead simple to manage website.
2.) We create Mysql database and script Wordpress install and send them back an email saying: "Here you go (insert link to Wordpress Admin logon)." Have a nice day.

We already support Mysql and PHP on the backend, so it really wouldnt take much at all to prep our infrastructure to support Wordpress/Drupal,etc. I'm really confused about how/why they (my employer) dont see this as a viable option.

Thanks for all your input (so far) everyone.
posted by jmnugent at 3:41 PM on April 30, 2008

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