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The SharePoint Collaborus
The SharePoint Collaborus™ is a publication from Portalogiks that addresses collaboration trends, issues, enterprise architecture, and information management techniques of enterprise-class organizations using SharePoint products and technologies. Members receive the primer to each monthly newsletter via email and access to the members section to download the full publication as well as read past issues.

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The SharePoint Collaborus
May 3


5/3/2010

As a SharePoint developer and trainer, I'm always asked by my enterprise customers: "Why do all the free CMS technologies (DNN, Drupal, Joomla, etc.) have a spectacular WYSIWYG editor, but those paying the piper for the privilege to use SharePoint technologies are punished to use the pitiful SharePoint WYSIWYG."

Unfortunately, SharePoint 2010 is not much of an improvement. In fact, the Rich text editor has the same one-row tool bar.

Now in its fourth version, Microsoft is late to realize users want to place pictures, apply rich formatting and used advanced layouts. Unfortunately SharePoint 2010's  full-blown WYSIWYG editor is still a far cry from Microsoft's flagship editor Word. Why is it that the decade+ leader in word processing technologies can't offer its valued SharePoint adopters a robust WYSIWYG editor to author and edit SharePoint web pages?

Thankfully, someone else stepped up to the plate and now there is a free tool that trumps the SharePoint editor; and it only requires a browser add-on! Write-Area is a free add-on to FireFox where once installed, any rich-text area on any web page can employ the powerful FCK Editor that all the community CMS technologies knew to adopt years ago. 

I know many of you immediately are thinking "SharePoint works best in Internet Explorer so this is useless". While this may be true with editing Office documents, it's not true with managing web content. How many times do you already have FireFox open to do security penetration testing under different logins simultaneously? Is using FireFox easier than cracking open SharePoint Designer and going through the entire check-out and publication process for a simple change? Write-Area will never replace the power of code-level control offered by SharePoint Designer, but the majority of content-level changes shouldn't need to go to a piece of software since web technologies are so mature.

Let's take the below Announcements list Body field below. Using FireFox and the Write-Area add-on, we can right-click inside the text-area which launches FCK Editor.

 

Those already familiar with DotNetNuke immediately recognize this as the powerful editor they are familiar with. Bringing MS Word-style tool bars, the FCK Editor is the WYSIWYG editor that can be your daily editor for managing SharePoint content.

One can work in Source-view if comfortable, but FCK Editor really shows its value by providing easy to understand consoles to provide "fit-and-proper" content management controls.

Two of my favorite features are the ability to click-and-drag columns:

As well as the ability to quickly manage table rows, columns and cells from the browser:

In summary, the Write-Area add-on for FireFox is a valued tool for any content manager, or even a SharePoint webmaster's arsenal. Would I recommend all your enterprise users know about this, absolutely not. But for those who have the responsibility to author and evolve SharePoint pages, wikis/blogs, or list-level content fields, this is a fast and proven tool to quickly author lush web content.

 Download Write-Area for FireFox

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