Creating Content Management Systems with HTML Editors

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1.   What is a CMS?

Content Management Systems, or CMS, emerged with the urgent need for businesses and individuals to have a website. These tools let users design, create, publish, edit, and delete content, essentially making their website without coding from scratch. 

Creating Content Management Systems with HTML Editors

A CMS consists of two primary components. The first is the Content Management Application (CMA), the graphical user interface where users can perform their tasks. The second is the Content Delivery Application (CDA), responsible for compiling and delivering the content.

Content Management Systems are powerful tools, and aside from their primary functions of content creation, updating, and publishing, they have many other functions. Through it, users can also:

  • Track changes made to the content;
  • Upload and convert files;
  • Perform basic and advanced searches;
  • Set up user access rights and other security measures;
  • Personalize their content;
  • And so much more;

Because of its robust features and low coding knowledge requirement, CMS has become popular for those looking to create a website. Startups, freelancers, bloggers, educators, and plenty more have chosen to use a CMS over coding from scratch or using a website builder.

Building a website from scratch might take more time and resources than they have, especially if they are not in the software field.

On the other hand, using a website builder could cost them a lot of money in exchange for a simple-looking website. CMS provides them with the simplicity and ease of use of a website builder while also providing the customizability, completeness, and freedom of a purely coded website.

The most crucial feature of CMS is creating and managing content through an editor. For example, CMS editors are often rich in features, allowing users to do most of what a word processing software does, uploading files and customizing editor elements.

However, building such an advanced text editor within a CMS would require much effort. Thankfully, WYSIWYG HTML editors exist, and they can be easily integrated into CMS as advanced text editors.

2.   What are HTML Editors?

An HTML editor is a program where developers write and edit code for software applications and websites. They are different from regular text editors in that they provide developers with a more convenient and complete coding experience.

There are two types of HTML editors – text-based HTML editors and WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) HTML editors. The former deals with purely written code and has the following features:

  • Toolbars that contain the categorized main functions of the editor;
  • Autocompletion of text, functions/methods, classes, and other coding elements, for various languages;
  • Syntax highlighting and validation;
  • Code formatting;
  • Project structuring;
  • Tooltips and interactive guides;
  • Plugins and package management.

Experienced developers often prefer text-based HTML editors. They offer greater freedom but can’t show users any rendered code unless they save the file and open it in a browser.

On the other hand, WYSIWYG HTML editors use a graphical user interface to edit and create applications/websites. What’s unique about these editors is that developers can view any changes rendered in the program without refreshing or opening the website.

This makes these editors perfect for beginners or those who lack the time and budget to build a website from scratch. With WYSIWYG editors’ drag-and-drop features and toolbars, users can focus on carrying out their vision and not worry too much about syntax or coding.

Both types are viable for CMS projects, but in this article, we’ll focus on WYSIWYG HTML editors due to their increasing popularity and effectiveness in CMS.

3.   Creating CMS with HTML Editors

Now that you have a brief background on both CMS and HTML editors, let’s discuss the steps in creating your own CMS using a WYSIWYG editor. With content creation, moderation, and management at their core, CMS requires a reliable, organized, modern, efficient, rich text editor.

But where do you start? And how easy is it to make a CMS using WYSIWYG editors? This article will answer these questions.

a.   Determine the Tools you’ll Use

What you’ll be needing for this are primarily tools that the developers can easily acquire online if you haven’t already done so. Moreover, WYSIWYG editors usually have most of the things you’ll need. Here they are:

  • A WYSIWYG HTML editor
  • A text-based HTML editor for editing the code (some WYSIWYG HTML editors also have this feature)
  • A web browser

There are other additional requirements if you want to publish your CMS online, but they won’t be tackled in this article for simplicity. For instance, a database server, a web server/hosting service, a back-end programming language, and various security measures are often needed when deploying a website.

For now, we’ll focus more on how WYSIWYG editors can help you build a CMS. Furthermore, this article assumes that you already have a text-based HTML editor and a web browser installed on your computer.

b.   Install and implement a WYSIWYG HTML editor

This step varies depending on which editor you’ll use, but most of them have the documentation you can follow. For most of them, you’ll also have plenty of download options.

These include installing from package managers such as NPM (Node Package Manager) or Bower or downloading a file from a website. You may also access the files without downloading them through a CDN (Content Delivery Network).

Whichever installation method you choose, you’ll need to include the paths of the editor’s .css and .js files in your HTML document. Once you have them included, you’re ready for the next step.

c.   Create your CMS

This introductory tutorial will show you the steps to making a CMS that can view and add articles. Usually, you’ll first need to create a database and some tables based on your schema and then create a config file and back-end codes that handle data processing. For now, let’s skip to front-end development.

First, you will need two areas for your basic CMS – the editor and viewing areas. The former is a rich text editor where users can write and edit content, while the latter contains the posted content. You can easily initialize Modern WYSIWYG by wrapping them in <div> elements and creating a new instance of the editor’s class.

You can also wrap the viewing area in a <div> element with proper grid positioning (i.e., 1 row for every entry) for responsiveness. Once you initialize the editor, you should already see a rich text editor with most of the necessary features on your page.

You should be able to type text, format, insert images, videos, and links, and perform other advanced, rich text functions. Should you need other functionalities, you may refer to the documentation of your chosen WYSIWYG editor.

It only takes a few minutes

The next step is adding an “Add/Save/Post” button for content posting. This button would be ideally placed on the editor’s footer. Afterward, you’ll need to create a script that captures the editor’s contents, checks for errors, and adds the contents as a card-type object below the editor.

Once you’ve done that, you’re all set! You’ve completed a basic CMS without any back-end capabilities in just a few easy steps.

This is how powerful and helpful WYSIWYG HTML editors are. If you decide to build a CMS from scratch without help from WYSIWYG editors, you would be required to create your rich text editor, which will take lots of time and effort.

A reminder of practicality

Note that for real-world scenarios, instead of merely adding the contents to the page, you should store them in a database table. You can do this by sending an HTTP request from your script to a web server where the contents would be processed by a program written in PHP, Ruby, or other back-end languages.

You should check for errors, vulnerabilities, and any violation of constraints here since front-end validation is only for improving user experience. After the contents are validated, the back-end program stores them on a database table for later use.

CMS and WYSIWYG HTML Editors

Building a CMS is one of the most common applications of WYSIWYG HTML editors.

Using these editors, you can cut the amount of coding work by a significant amount, as described in this article. Just call their files within your HTML code, add some logic to capture your data, and either display them right away (testing/demo purposes) or store them in a database (practical scenario).

With HTML editors, the usually intimidating tasks become much more straightforward, giving you more time to work on and polish the site’s back-end codes.

So, when you need a reliable tool for creating CMS and similar applications like website builders, you should think of WYSIWYG HTML editors.

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Lucy Bennett

Lucy Bennett is a Contributing Editor at iLounge. She has been writing about Apple and technology for over six years. Prior to joining iLounge, Lucy worked as a writer for several online publications.