January 2009

Created 31st January, 2009 05:08 (UTC), last edited 31st January, 2009 06:09 (UTC)

We've had a pretty crazy busy start to the new year. We've done a couple of small web sites using a new (to us anyway) content management system called webEditon. I can't recommend it. It has lots of great features, but its biggest weakness and failing is also its main selling point. This is a failing that isn't in FOST.3™, the CMS that runs this web site, but it's the lack of that weakness that means we have to use WebEdition for these projects rather than FOST.3™ too. Sigh.

When you use WebEdition you use an IDE that gives you a WYSIWYG view of how the page will look and where you can edit all of the content straight onto the page. It all sounds great, and when it works it's fine. The problem is of course that unlike systems with less intuitive interfaces the IDE requires a great deal of work in the browser — and the browser just isn't a suitable development platform for building a full GUI IDE.

It works tolerably well on Safari on Macintoshes, and isn't too broken on Firefox or Internet Explorer on Windows, and some things work on Firefox on Linux. The differences are not to do with whether or not parts of the IDE is broken, but simply how broken the IDE is. And because of the nature of the IDE interface, if it does break then you can't actually do anything.

There was a lesson here that we learned a long time ago in the mid-nineties — keep the clever stuff on the server and try not to ask for too much out of the browser. If you do want to do something clever in the browser make sure that you can also do it a simple way or it simply won't work for some user. Nobody wants that.