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All Posts  /   /  September 27, 2012 

Inside Ektron 8.6 - Part 1: The New Content Editor

Yes, we’ve talked about the great things coming with Ektron 8.6 – in general terms. Now we want to do a deep dive and get much more specific about the features and functionality of the new release. First up? The new content editor.

Ektron is integrating the new Aloha Editor, “a semantic Rich Text Editor framework written in Javascript with the best support of xHTML5.” One of the tremendous attributes of this editor is how it extends the attribute “contenteditable,” which up until now has been implemented inconsistently on different browsers. We at iMedia have experienced real pain as we were forced to manipulate our templates and copy to display properly in all browsers. But according to Aloha Editor’s website, their extension of “contenteditable” has made it useable in ALL browsers. This will not only make our lives much easier as developers, but will reduce the amount of time we spend creating usable templates.

This and this alone deserves a cheer. But there’s more to come.

As we opened up a preview of the new content editor, the difference between the old and the new was immediately apparent.

Here’s how it appears today – with an array of controls at the top that can be, frankly, confusing to non-expert editors.

Here’s how it appears in Ektron 8.6:

So our first question – where are the editor controls? – was answered the moment we placed our cursor inside the yellow box of editable text. The editor controls popped up:

The controls are intuitively organized into three main categories: Format, Insert, and Review:

As we played with the copy, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the controls followed us down the screen as we added more text. This means no more scrolling up and down the page for controls when your content expands past the fold. The controls are always exactly where you want them. And if, by chance, you want to keep the controls fixed in a certain spot on the screen, the thumb tack tool lets you do so.

The formatting controls are familiar to anyone who has used Microsoft Word. The ability to see the various headings and other pre-formatted formats is a particularly user-friendly feature.

But the controls seemed somewhat sparse – until we clicked on copy we wanted to link. Then we saw how the new editor adds additional tabs based on the required function.

The Ektron library has clearly been incorporated within the Insert menu, allowing access to the Ektron Library. This functionality will be familiar to any user of the old Ektron content editor.

But some Insert functionality is both new and welcome – including the ability to insert special characters or to insert a Template, which will clearly make Ektron developers much more productive.

Similar to the Link functionality, inserting a table brings up the table tab, which offers common Word-like functionality, such as splitting and merging cells.

The Review tab gives users the ability to inspect properties, validate the HTML (according to xHTML5 standards), and translate the copy using Ektron’s CMS400 translation extension. But most exciting of all for content editors is the View HTML selection. Previously, clicking View HTML would toggle to a completely new screen. Now, the Source Viewer is offered to the side of the current content pane, so that you can see both simultaneously. Changes to one are instantly reflected in the other, making it much easier to use the text-based interface.

We’re certain there’s more to come once we dig in even deeper, but this quick review of the new content editor functionality shows us how much more user-friendly and efficient the Aloha editor will be. We’re looking forward to using it in upcoming projects!

Interested in migrating to Ektron 8.6? Read more about it here.
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