Month: <span>August 2002</span>

Radio UserLand: “The commentOnThisPage macro lets you add the comments feature to stories, or indeed to any page in your Radio site, whereas previously readers could only post comments in response to weblog posts.”

All you have to do is add the <%radio.macros.commentOnThisPage ()%> macro to your template, and turn on the comments feature — piece of cake. Here’s a how-to.

FYI, Lawrence wrote the macro, and the How-To.

Also, In case you’ve missed them, Lawrence also wrote the previousDayLink and nextDayLink macros.

Jake's Radio 'Blog

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More on Macromedia and editing widgets from Timothy Appnel:

“…At a meeting with Macromedia I made the same suggestion as Jake — develop a markup editor widget for the communities use. I was told that Macromedia would leave such an effort to its partners or the flash developer community at large. After several messages to the folks at illogicz I received a broadcast message thanking me for my interest and stating their intent to package the editor into a product that they would offer for sale shortly. I believe some of Macromedia’s partners also have plans along these lines.

“I don’t think this really is going to help if there is a price tag involved. I’m not a flaming Richard Stallman FSF type. I just think that a simple and extensible markup editor is too integral to web applications that it has to be ubiquitous and without constraints…”

I completely agree with Timothy that an editing tool like this has to be ubiquitous and free. The web needs this probably more than 99% of web users know. People see the browser primarily as a reading environment because writing in the browser just plain sucks.

Here’s another idea: If Macromedia won’t give us an editor, perhaps it’s time for Bare Bones and Helios Software to get together, find the browser plugin API specs, and dig in a bit to give us the editor we so desperately need.

No need for HTTP PUT or WebDav support: We have desktop tools already that talk with servers beautifully on that level.

No need to edit tables or generate CSS: 99% of people writing for the web don’t need to and they don’t care — they just want to do some simple formatting without having to type the damned HTML tags.

An editor that generates fragments of validating HTML 4 with simple formatting options and hyperlinks is more than enough. Go low-tech, and give us a tool that works, not some dot-com dream of the end-all and be-all of HTML editors. We already know that doesn’t work. Time to let the dead horse rot.

If I had the time and the background I’d do it myself.

Oh, and by the way: According to Timothy apparently the illogicz editor is read-only, and communication between Flash and the DOM (JavaScript running in the browser) is “dicey”.

Jake's Radio 'Blog

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Lawrence Lee and Sylvain Carle both posted some very interesting and useful links in response to my questions about how to use Flash MX as a browser-based editing tool.

First, Lawrence found a solution to the HTTP POST problem. A few minutes later, Sylvain blogged lots of very useful links over on A Frog in the Valley. Thanks!

The upshot is that my two biggest questions are answered: How to post data (HTML text) back to server, and how to detect whether the browser is Flash-compatible (client-side). Unfortunately detecting whether the plugin is installed (and possibly which version) will probably involve JavaScript, but that’s not a deal-stopper. Falling back to the MS editing control may be a problem, but also not a deal-stopper.

There’s still more I need to understand here, and unfortunately I don’t have the time just now, since I’m totally englufed in work on the next Frontier release and a couple of other smaller projects. But this is promising… Quite.

 Next question:

Why doesn’t Macromedia get their heads out of their asses and come up with a really kick ass cross-platform browser-based WYSIWYG editor plugin? It needs to be really fast, do spell checking, send data via HTTP POST, and ideally be extensible using locally running native code.

There’s a gigantic opportunity here, and Macromedia has the experience, the marketing power and the developers to make it happen. If their users are already this close, then the engineers inside Macromedia are ceratinly capable of fulfilling this wish.

Make two versions: A free version with the basic features (WYSIWYG minus spell check and OS-integration), and a pro version that does everything. Charge $50 for the pro version. They’ll get 100 thousand sales — I’d be the first.

Who would turn down $5M in sales? They must be able to offset the development cost even if they only sell 5,000 copies.

More importantly, if Microsoft’s strategy tax is keeping them from giving developers what they need to make the browser a great writing tool (it is), then perhaps Macromedia can turn on the light at the end of the tunnel, and give developers and users what they’re starving for. It’s certainly a better bet for Macromedia than the Allaire purchase turned out to be.

Jake's Radio 'Blog

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