Content editing is the heart of Web content management systems, yet have received little attention in the past decade. During CMS product demonstrations, vendors tend to focus instead on nifty marketing features, social media tricks and their mobile features.
Now CMS vendor Ektron, once themselves known more for their text editor than their CMS, have decided to transform the content editing experience within the new version 8.6 of their CMS. Out goes the heavily customized version of the Telerik editor and in comes the HTML5-based Aloha Editor.
Why is content editing so important?
Despite what goes on during the vendor demos, what most people using a CMS spend their time on is entering and editing content. Nearly all content management systems today have a text editor that resembles the Microsoft Word interface inside the browser.
This might sound easy, but the reality has not been pleasant. Many have found the editing experience cumbersome and overwhelming. Some have even created text editor cheat sheets to help their editors. This shouldn't be necessary!
What exactly have Ektron done to their content editing features?
According to Ektron, web content editing is now fun again. Behind the scenes Ektron has created a "provider" model for 3rd party editors in Ektron 8.6. This will eventually allow customers to plug in other 3rd party editors of their choice. With 8.6, Ektron support Aloha in addition to the older editor with prior versions (a heavily customized version of Telerik) for backwards compatibility.
The Aloha editor now powers almost every place inside Ektron where you would edit content, including Ektron's in-context editing UI, SmartForms (structured content editor) and blog comments. According to Ektron's Chief Marketing Officer Tom Wentworth:
It's Aloha everywhere
Ektron has also added some custom functions to Aloha, for example, so a user can browse Ektron's image library and browse for URL links.
What does this mean for your CMS projects?
The renewed focus on content management is good news for CMS professionals. A basic and essential task such as working with content should and can be much easier than what is the case today in most organisations today. Many J. Boye Group members have reversed plans to decentralise content responsibility as they've run into technical challenges with content editing and severe push-back from colleagues over real usability problems.
Much has happened to the Aloha Editor since we first saw it in the summer of 2010. According to Gentics, a small Austria-based CMS vendor that is heading up the Aloha project, other CMS vendors are also looking to integrate Aloha in future versions.
Whether you get to work with the Aloha Editor or some of the many other text editors out there, we recommend that you do everything you can to make your editors happy.
Learn more about content editing
Read a story about Telekom Austria Group which uses Aloha Editor on their intranet. You can also find more on the Aloha Editor website. A free and open source alternative to Aloha is the Create.js project.