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I am a web developer putting together a system for writers/editors to efficiently add — fairly rich — content to a website.

I've previously used standard WYSIWYG editors but find that often what you see isn't what you get. I've seen this lead to frustration.

Has anyone used Markdown to write articles? If so, how did you find it?

I'd love to hear any journalists experiences with previous systems or any views on what would make a perfect system.

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3 Answers 3

Judging by your comment that you've got templates and backends already running, you may want to take a look at TinyMCE, which is a pretty good Javascript WYSIWYG editor. It's open source, fully customisable, and is easy to integrate into websites and content management systems. It's used in Wordpress, and is also used by Microsoft, Oracle and a bunch of other companies and websites, has regular updates, and fairly decent support.

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Wordpress is a popular and excellent choice.

There are Markdown plugins for Wordpress, if your writers choose to write in Markdown, within the CMS: http://michelf.com/projects/php-markdown/

I'd highly recommend the plugin 'After the Deadline', that checks spelling and grammer as you type. It's very intelligent, and works really well: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/after-the-deadline/

You could probably use a standard Wordpress install, and find plugins that suite your needs regarding this: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/

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I've developed two different content management systems in the past. One was for a major corporation's internal intranet, and the other for a large government entity. In each case, I used a database driven back end to store the content and manage the permissions. The database also separated the content by topics and kept it organized. Having said all that, I would have to say that it takes an awful lot of time and effort to do all that, but 10-15 years ago that was the only way to get it done.

Today, you can accomplish all of this with a good, well-organized blog. Wordpress, for example, allows you to add users with permissions who can add articles or posts to the site. You can categorize or tag each article, and you can even have the writers receive the comments for their own stories. I would not try to rewrite the wheel, because the progress that has been made with blogs makes it all so unnecessary.

As far as WYSIWYG editors, look at this site! If you scroll your answer box to the top, you can see what you are typing directly below it so that you can see what your readers see as you type it. You can see the hyperlinks, the bold font, italics, everything. There are widgets available for blogs that allow you to do the same thing. I think you will find your time much better spent trying to find a suitable template and piecing together a collection of widgets to provide all the functionality you need.

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Thanks Steven. The site I work on is a pretty big one and we already have templates, backend up and running. (sorry should have put that in the message above) StackExchange does indeed have an interesting system — rather than using a WYSIWYG they have a direct textarea editor with preview pannel… I'm liking this approach but wonder if a editor needs to see a preview (in a content seperation sense) –  Ad Taylor Aug 1 '11 at 12:05

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