MS Word vs. CMS or with CMS ?

MartinHejtmanekMartinHejtmanek Member, Kentico Staff mod
edited November 2017 in Product Wishlist

I would like to start a discussion around using MS Word (or other external tool) for content preparation and editing. Currently MS Word is often used to prepare, review, spell check etc. content, and then the result is pasted into the CMS (of any kind).

The question is whether this is being widely considered a workaround that is somehow necessary because CMS editors lack some functionality or other aspects that MS Word offers them, or it is a natural part of the content management process that people would still like to use even if the CMS editing interface was perfect.

What we heard so far is that people use MS Word in order to:

  • Have intuitive UI that they know
  • Check spelling or grammar
  • Track changes from original version
  • Add inline comments
  • Be able to sent the document for review
  • Do not need to log into CMS to prepare content

I would like to hear any thoughts you may have around this. In particular:

  • What are the aspects that make people use Word?
  • How their current process involving Word looks like within initial content import / further editing?
  • How clean is the pasted content, and are there some extra steps necessary to clean it besides of paste?
  • How their ideal process would look like if CMS would have all the features they would want?
  • What features the CMS would have to offer to achieve this ideal process?
  • Is it better to have a CMS that does a perfect paste from Word, or a CMS that offers features like Word? Or both? Or other?

The reason why I am asking is to figure out what scope and what amount of investment to the Kentico Cloud content editing interface is worth it in order to improve the content editing experience. It would be unfortunate if we spent time to provide similar features that Word has, but people would still use Word instead of those built-in features.

We are interested in any opinions from anyone who is dealing with MS Word or other similar external tool in their content editing process, not just from current Kentico users.

Comments

  • ralphralph Member

    First of: Don't even bother competing with Word or any other text processor. Keep doing what you are good at: Creating content management systems.

    There are many reasons users start their work with Word or similar. Some of them do not even have anything to do with technical advantages. For example

    • Auto-save (I already feel stressed writing directly into a web window, since I never know when this browser just goes down...) - I see this editor is doing it as well, wow, cool.
    • Installation of third party spelling editor. For example anti-dot for French. Grammar checkers in Word for French are very limited, basically because the language is too complex. Same for German. Word can integrate better products
    • Flexibility: Word lets you express ideas better, because you are not really bound to a strict document type. I.E. what you try to achieve with modular content in a rich editor field is great... but there is no preview. So very hard to figure out if the idea actually works. If we talk about content first approach, some of the structure might not even be created. It will be created (or adapted) based on the first drafts
    • Sharing: Be it on dropbox or via Google drive. Easy. Not because it is easy, but because we use the same thing for a thousand different things
    • Copy paste from Excel (tables for example). And the cool thing is that you can update your Excel file and it will update Word...
  • ralphralph Member
    edited September 2017

    Auto-save.
    Even if this editor seems to do it... I just lost a big paragraph, because I wanted to edit one word.

    I will for sure use word now to write my stuff and then paste it in here.

    Never trust an online editor. I knew it.

  • MartinHejtmanekMartinHejtmanek Member, Kentico Staff mod

    Hi Ralph. By "this editor" you mean the editor in Kentico Cloud or some other? If in Kentico Cloud, are you able to tell what exactly happened? How about undo, did it failed to do what it was supposed to as well?

    Reliability against loosing your work is certainly a good point that a good online editor should cover, I see your point.

  • JanL@kentico.com[email protected] Czech RepublicMember, Administrator, Kentico Staff admin

    Hi @MartinHejtmanek ,

    Great topic! I have an idea that might be worth considering.

    Word has native and rich support for simultaneous collaboration on documents stored in SharePoint (e.g. ). And of course, Word communicates with SharePoint using web services. What if we had a web service facade that mimics SharePoint? I do realize it would incur deeper legal and technical research. But AFAIK the web services in SharePoint are fairly stable now and the facade web service might satisfy needs of users unwilling to moving away from Word.

    If you wish to discuss that, just let me know.

    Jan

  • ralphralph Member
    edited November 2017

    Hi Ralph. By "this editor" you mean the editor in Kentico Cloud or some other?

    It was the editor of this forum. Seems to be different than the one on Kentico cloud.

    BTW, I have so many things to say here, that I will break it up in smaller comments...

  • ralphralph Member

    Wrike, which has otherwise a lousy editor, does one thing pretty good: It keeps a history and you can go back to each version. Sometimes a bit buggy, but otherwise really useful.

  • ralphralph Member
    edited November 2017

    Two of the other points I was listing yesterday:

    • Third-party tools for grammar checking, like Anti-dot. Because not even MS is good enough to properly check languages like French and German
    • Flexibility: Sometimes the writing process starts when some idea/structure are not yet completely fixed. Then it is a nice feature to easily throw in images, tables and graphics onto a page without really worrying about final integration

      • A text editor is very often the tool to the final product and a Word document a tool to create content. The lack of structure can be a plus here.
    • Preview: Imagine an editor that is throwing a couple of modular content items into a rich editor field or onto a page, without having the possibility to preview his work… He will soon ditch the online editor….

  • ralphralph Member

    Things an online editor must be able to do:

    • Perfect conversion from copied text into HTML

      • Keep unordered lists, ordered lists, valid headline tags, bold italic
      • Keep classes, or have an option to keep classes
      • Remove all inline styles
      • Sometimes you even want to keep wrapped sections
    • Possibility to create your own custom style drop-down menu, that allows an editor to add custom classes to headlines or anchors, like h1 class=”red” or a class=”download”

    • Possibility to remove options from the editor.

      • Example: I have a snippet whereby I want the editor to enable to make things bold and italic, nothing more. The RTE menu must only contain these two controls
      • On another content type, I want to give him more options, like inserting modular content.
    • There should be no limit on which tags I allow an editor to have access. Right now, h1-h4 is VERY limited.

    • View Source. I did see the threat and the discussion about it. I am a big Pro View Source Code.

      • Again, if I don’t want it there, I can configure the RTE
      • Allows you also to create more complex things like responsive tables (uh, yeah, any idea on how to easily create responsive tables?)
    • Visual view of your tags, as in CK editor (see screenshot)

    • Full screen view

    • Mark-down, but it is very difficult to combine Wysiwyg and markdown, as we can see in this editor... Really not a game stopper for websites.
  • MartinHejtmanekMartinHejtmanek Member, Kentico Staff mod

    @RalphSpandl thank you for all the details, it makes complete sense to me and I agree with almost everything you pointed out.

    What leaves me with questions is how some of those things should work within an omni-channel content preparation and delivery. How to display such content in mobile app / VR / on a fridge? Especially with the source view. Would you mind sharing your thoughts about it here or in this discussion? https://forums.kenticocloud.com/discussion/comment/80#Comment_80

    I believe that if the editor and API provides the right amount of flexibility, pretty much anything can be done semantically, without the need to give the editor full control over the code that would also mean the ability to break things to the developer, and inability to render such content natively outside of the web browser.

    For example the tables you mentioned, one option is to edit them using HTML, that is for sure, but that also takes the full control out of the hands of a developer / designer. Another option is to provide them semantically within the data model, and let the developer provide a template for rendering. This could be done by providing a structured object ITable with rows / cells within the structured rich text model https://github.com/Kentico/delivery-sdk-net/wiki/Structured-Rich-text-rendering. With this, developer could not only provide completely custom markup for a table, but even take this as a plain set of data, and feed it to a chart / make aggregations on-the-fly / render it to a data grid on a mobile device. Wouldn't that be better for everyone compared to low-level HTML source editing?

    What are your thoughts?

  • MartinHejtmanekMartinHejtmanek Member, Kentico Staff mod

    @JanLenoch I think this might be sufficient for a "simple" formatted text with images, however I can't imagine how it would work with more structured content containing modular content (e.g. a tweet, linked video with metadata, etc.).

    But anyway, at the moment I am primarily interested in answering the question whether there is an option that would allow no need for integration at all, rather than looking for more integration possibilities. If we find out later that Word (or any other external tool) is the only way that people really want to use and is a natural part of the process for them (not an additional obstacle), we should figure out the best integration options possible.

  • ralphralph Member

    @MartinHejtmanek I like the fridge sample.

    Let's say you have a fridge panel that can only display regular and bold. In this case we can't present the current RTE to an content editor, because the fridge would not be able to render an h2.

    This leaves me with the strong believe that the RTE should be configured by the editor for each use. You as the content management creator could help the developer by supplying some base configurations:

    • Fridge-safe
    • Web safe
    • Custom

    While custom can be anything that is required. Including the source view.

    A developer would never include the source view option for content that is targeted to a fridge, but for content items that are targeted at capable devices, used by capable content editors.

    We add the source code option to almost all our configurations (in Kentico/ck editor), simply to check what the RTE did when copy-pasting text in it. We use it very rarely to edit things, but the few times, it comes in handy. Otherwise you find yourself very often using the inspect element function of your browser...

  • MartinHejtmanekMartinHejtmanek Member, Kentico Staff mod

    @RalphSpandl So you are saying basically that each device would have its own copy of the content suitable for it, right? Would that be ideally done through multiple content types, or through multiple elements within one content type?

    It seems totally reasonable to me for a fridge or watch where the "compressed" version of the content would be short and easy to maintain as it is just extract of the information.

    How about channels that are juts a bit different from what web offers? Let's say your content is article / recipe / product description, and you want to show it on web page, and in a native mobile app. Would doubling the content help here, would it still be the preferred option for editors? How about the workflow process involved, would they want to change the content based on comments and review almost the same content in multiple places or would they prefer having just single place for the article text even if that would mean less overall editing options to achieve cleaner content?

  • I personally use MS Word for (Low, Medium, High importance):

    • Having a local backup if something goes wrong (H)
    • spell-check (H)
    • familiarity (L)
    • drag & drop of assets (M)
    • easy to use UI (M-H)
    • WYSIWYG (in most of the cases) (L)

    That being said, if the KC editor would improve in those areas, it could be a viable alternative if there is additional value there (some of these things were already mentioned above, but nevertheless):

    • Drag and drop of images/modular content
    • preview for modular content
    • some AI magic (synonym suggestions, re-phrasing suggestions, similar content on the web / automatically discovered resources/sources etc., auto tagging )
  • ralphralph Member

    @MartinHejtmanek I was more referring to different projects than to one multi-channel project.

    While your overall goal is to make KenticoCloud the perfect Multi-channel tool, you should not exclude the case that some agency will use the cloud CMS for a web only project.

    What I basically say is: Leave it in the hands of the developer to decide how it will configure the RTE. You should just support multiple scenarios by giving customization options.

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