Get yourself a great WYSIWYG

While in the process of rebuilding the Headscape website, I have come across the ultimate in WYSIWYG editors for your content management system.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I have been trying to rebuild the Headscape website for a very long time. One of the main reasons for a rebuild is that our current site does not demonstrate the web standards and accessibility experience that has become core to our company’s approach.

The problem with Content management systems

Of course, it is relatively easy to build a web standards site and ensure it conforms to the basics of accessibility but it is much harder to keep it that way. In my experience, it is the WYSIWYG editor that often lets you down. The whole point of having a content management system is to enable even those with no programming knowledge to make changes to their site. Unfortunately, the majority of content management systems rely on editors that provide the user with little or no help ensuring that the underlying code is clean and accessible. The result is that within days of launching a site becomes non-compliant and potentially no longer accessible.

An outstanding solution

Enter XStandard.

Unlike many WYSIWYG editor that rely on native Internet Explorer Active X components, XStandard has been built from the ground up to provide standards based code and highly accessible content. Not only that it has been beautifully designed to be easy to use and novice friendly.

Superb features

Just some of my favourite features include:

  • The user selects from a list of clearly named tags that define what content is NOT what it should look like. The designer’s style sheet then automatically controls the appearance of these tags.
  • Encouraging the user to conform to accessibility guidelines. Wherever possible it automates this process and if it cannot it prompts the user.
  • Enables drag and drop of both images and files directly from your desktop
  • Microsoft word documents can be copied directly into the editor and it cleans the code and marks it up appropriately.
  • It has a multi-lingual spell checker built-in.

The list above refers to the best features from the users’ point of view. There are also numerous benefits from the programmers’ viewpoint as well.

Responsive customer support

The other thing that particularly impressed me is their customer support. We have received fast responses to our email enquiries and they have done everything possible to deal with all of our queries.

Problems with pricing

I have only one criticism of the product and that is its pricing policy. The price is calculated on both user licenses and site licenses which gets very complicated especially when integrated to a cms that can generate unlimited numbers of users.

Highly recommended

However other than pricing I can thoroughly recommend this product. Not only will we be adopting this editor for our own site we will also be integrating it into all of our content managed sites moving forward. In fact I would go as far as saying that if you already have a content management system that uses another editor that you should seriously look at the possibility of retro fitting this editor into your site.

  • David Whittle

    Hey Paul,
    Looks like a great solution… except for Mac clients!

  • Yes that was a concern to us as well until they informed us that they have almost completed a Mac compatible version that will be released later this year.

  • Barbara

    Does this editor work in Mozilla/Firefox?

  • Oh yes! As I said in the article, unlike most WYSIWYG this does not use the default ActiveX component most WYSIWYG are built on. This beauty works in IE/Mozilla/Firefox/Netscape.

  • Just listened to your podcast for the first time (the xmas special) and decided to start from the beginning!
    Love the show!
    Anyways, just wanted to add a plug to Xstandard. We’ve been building an in-house CMS for our organization and I must have looked at a dozen WYSIWYG editors and the ONLY one that produced clean markup was Xstandard.
    The main reason that Xstandard is better then many of the rest is that it isn’t depending on the browsers’ built in javascript text controls. Must text area replacement tools depend entirely on javascript, which produces significantly different output depending on whether or not the editor is loaded into IE or FF.
    I agree that the only main drawback is the pricing. It is convoluted and a bit pricey. However, they do offer xstandard lite, which has all the WYSIWYG features. You just miss out on the nice file and image upload/linking tools.
    FYI, it sounds like the OSX client is well underway so the product looks to be getting even better.

  • For those of you interested in the mac version of xstandard I am pleased to say that an alpha is now available and can be downloaded at: This has all of the features of the lite version. A full pro version should be available within the next 3 months.

  • Sounds exactly what i’m looking for, is it easily installed on a linux box? i had heard it was windows only on the server side?

  • To be honest I couldnt tell you. I have only ever installed it on a windows box.

  • CB

    There is still no Mac version of XStandard… as of July 9, 2006. Sad.

  • BD

    I just found references to xstandard and a link to this website from google. I read the xstandard website and I am still confused on how you install and use this product. Its not a stand-alone editor, correct? So if I wanted to use xstandard in my blog software (wordpress) how would I go about installing it? I assume it would replace the current editor that comes with wordpress? Any help appreciated.
    Also, love the design of the boagworld site. Can’t wait to check it out.

  • Ed

    BD – any answers from anywhere else on the wordpress question?
    Anyone got any idea how to get xstandard working in wordpress?

  • Anonymous

    Wow, this is 6 years old and I can remember you talking about this on the podcast. Those were the times…! ┬áJust wondering if you still recommend this as a solution or whether something more new and dazzling has arrived? A client of mine wants to paste from Word into the editor and of course that creates problems.

  • Wow, this is 6 years old and I can remember you talking about this on the podcast. Those were the times…! ┬áJust wondering if you still recommend this as a solution or whether something more new and dazzling has arrived? A client of mine wants to paste from Word into the editor and of course that creates problems.