IOS 5 Finally Supports WYSIWYG Editors

More and more people are accessing the web using smart phones and tablets and while much progress has been made to provide a good web experience for those devices, until now one major shortcoming has been the lack of support for use of web based WYSIWYG editors like CKeditor and TinyMCE. The problem has been that while the WYSIWYG editors would display ok, they did not trigger the keyboard input so they were not usable because clicking/touching them did not put the focus in the editor and did not bring up the keyboard. The best solution we could come up with was to force the use of a plain old textarea which would trigger the keyboard but required entering raw html making it more tedious to use and requiring knowledge of html from the user. We tried to make it a little better by using MarkitUp to at least provide a toolbar with some helpful html elements as shown below in this screen shot from an old iPhone 3.

iPhone 3 editor

HTML 5 actually defines a contentEditable attribute which is intended for use in making web pages editable but it wasn't supported in previous versions of IOS/Mobile Safari until now with the recent release of IOS 5. Fortunately for us the makers of the popular open source WYSIWYG editors have been working on this using the beta versions of IOS 5 so that now since the official release both of these editors can work in iPhones and iPads that have IOS 5. Shown below is a screen shot of TinyMCE used in iPhone 4S.

TinyMCE in iPhone

We've modified mojoPortal to take advantage of this and not force the plain textarea if we detect an IOS 5 device. This change is already in our source code repository and will be in the next release of mojoPortal. You can also try it out on our demo site using your IOS 5 device. For other devices we still use the textarea approach but I suspect that over time we will be able to enable the WYSIWYG editors for even more devices.

I'm very excited that this major limitation has been overcome in IOS 5 and especially for iPad which is a great web browsing experience and now is even better since you can actually edit your content easily. Huge kudos to the developers of TinyMCE and CKeditor for their great work in supporting mobile devices.


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Gravatar Joe Audette is the founder of the mojoPortal project and was the primary developer until February 2017.