This is nice work for an ecosystem that is deeply embedded in Markdown

Kay: Go to a blog, go to any Wiki, and find one that's WYSIWYG like Microsoft Word is. Word was done in 1984. HyperCard was 1989. Find me Web pages that are even as good as HyperCard. The Web was done after that, but it was done by people who had no imagination. They were just trying to satisfy an immediate need. There's nothing wrong with that, except that when you have something like the Industrial Revolution squared, you wind up setting de facto standards — in this case, really bad de facto standards. Because what you definitely don't want in a Web browser is any features.

I had the pleasure of writing to Alan Kay relatively recently, and I brought up Discourse as an example of popular forum software on the web that doesn’t have WYSIWYG editing, after seeing what he said in that interview ^^ (that it's symptomatic of the web as a whole)

Discourse have said elsewhere that they have deep assumptions about Markdown throughout their pipeline (and they said that it would require an Enterprise plan for at least a year or something, if a customer wanted to change it etc.). I had mentioned to Alan that they [Discourse] said it was too hard [to do WYSIWYG in Discourse].

Alan said in response to that, in essence, that anyone who doesn't have the skill, is too lazy, or doesn’t have the taste to do WYSIWYG should not be working on end-user systems. And he said along the lines of, “it was hard when we did it. So what?”

( I used to check in on codinghorror's Twitter and he expressed the opinion that he thought syntactic editing, such as markdown, was better than WYSIWYG like Microsoft Word, because the editing was visible. Since he is the product manager and often has the final word, it's unlikely that the Discourse Team will have WYSIWYG for users' interface with the composer anytime soon. And well in fact, codinghorror is working on Common Mark, which aims to set a standard for Markdown syntax, which suggests it is probably more unlikely that they'll move away from Markdown )

So I think it’s a tremendous effort that you're undertaking, and I guess I would like to congratulate you for having the foresight and doing the starting work to make editing way more user-friendly on Discourse :smiley: (The main reason I brought up WYSIWYG editing in that case, with Alan Kay, was because I was curious what he might like to see as a vision for the web, and he gave me an introduction to

A lot of things are WYSIWYG but we just don’t really see it until we put it in a different context I guess.

E.g. take this interface with a music app, called Auxy

You can drag the notes to affect their duration. Imagine if you had to type a number each time you wanted to change the duration or position of a note.

Or imagine in a video game, instead of moving your joystick to move a character, you had to type the coordinates of your character manually.

If we have these interfaces with music apps and video games, suddenly it doesn't seem like such a far stretch, to be able to consider what we are doing with text interfaces, on the web.^^

There is probably a certain stage with Discourse, where the assumptions about Markdown may result in a workload that makes it less feasible to continue with adding WYSIWYG to its current system, but you've got it working to the point that you did and I think that is a pretty solid effort :smiley:

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thank you very much for your comment! This is just my dev instance and I dont check by often so I saw it just now.

I think its not that hard to replace the markdown editor of discourse with a WYSIWYG editor. The debate between markdown vs WYSIWYG comes down to personal preference in the end. Markdown is very entangled not only with the code base of discourse, but also, as you rightly pointed out, with the identity of its creators.

But there are also practical concerns. They probably have a huge customer base that commissioned lots of modifications that depend on their markdown editor. They need to maintain these modifications for their customers, so the business case for switching to WYSIWYG might be a tough one for them.

I, on the other hand am not constrained by these concerns. I am also not a programmer, so my identity is not tied up in any of these debates. I just try to make the software simpler.

Many people in programming want to write things from scratch and develop their ideas on a green field. I have a different approach. I take a big code base like discourse and cut away the parts that I feel are unnecessary.

I follow the paradigm of “throw things against the wall and see what sticks”. This WYSIWYG editor seems to stick very nicely. The only drawbacks will soon be dealt with by switching to html only. :smiley:

if you want to discuss further you can also reach me via email at spirobel [at]