Test drive GhostEdit, a new standalone WYSIWYG rich text editor, before it goes public

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GhostEdit is a brand new WYSIWYG editor focused on usability. Currently in private Beta, it will support most popular browsers like Chrome and Safari, Firefox and IE.

GhostEdit features some familiar editing tools, as well as context sensitive buttons for the various controls.

What is a WYSIWYG editor and why would you need one? WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get, with the idea being that an editor of this kind will show you what the finished product looks like as you are creating it.

In other words, what you see in the editor is what you get in the finished product, post, whatever. There are tons of places and reasons to use a rich text editor on the internet these days, as well as reasons to use one offline. GhostEdit, in particular, is meant to edit rich text for sites that have things like forums you can post on or other forms of post-based chatting or discussion, and there are three main features that GhostEdit offers as their big attractions.

GhostEdit Screen 2

First, nearly every WYSIWYG text editor uses something called a Ribbon. The Ribbon appears at the top of the interface, usually, and offers most of the various options for changing the text, images, links and format of the document or post in question. The Ribbon on GhostEdit is very reminiscent of the panel used in Microsoft Word, so many people will automatically be familiar with this layout and how it works. Those who are not familiar with it will find it easy to find what they need on it, as well as easy to get used to in the short term. All the usual buttons are here, along with some really great features to make your editing easy and fast. For example, GhostEdit offers you the option, in the Ribbon itself, to click on special characters and have them appear in the text exactly where you want them to. Normally speaking, you’d have to go through menus, fonts, maybe even some ALT key combinations to get those special characters but GhostEdit brings them to you without hassle or extra clicking.

GhostEdit Screen 3

Second, GhostEdit’s interface is designed to make pictures supremely easy. Simply drag a photo from your computer to the editor and drop it where you want it to appear in the text, or choose the Add Photo button and browse to the photo as normal. GhostEdit will automatically align the photo to the left or right of the text and will then allow you to switch the side by pressing one of two bright pink arrow buttons. The change to the other side happens instantly and without fuss, and GhostEdit aligns the picture perfectly without having to add a grid or other annoying work-arounds. Additionally, you can re-size any picture just by dragging the corner of it and it will automatically maintain the same proportions as you re-size it. Once you let go of the photo, the change takes effect immediately so you can see the end result. This is what a WYSIWYG editor is meant for; to be able to see the finished product as you edit it, without worrying about things like margin size and font scalability. GhostEdit is designed to be a ‘transparent’ WYSIWYG editor, meaning that you don’t see it or notice it as you are using it. Rather, it focuses on the text and its layout with the editor controls blending into the page seamlessly.

GhostEdit Screen 5

Finally, GhostEdit has what is called “contextual buttons” built in. Basically, these are buttons that appear only when you need them, where you need them. As an example, let’s say you have a link you want to change to plain text in the editor. Usually, the way this could be done with other editors, is to select and highlight the link, then search for the ‘unlink’ or ‘break link’ button on the Ribbon. With GhostEdit, however, when you put your pointer on the link, the button to ‘unlink’ appears automatically right there. No searching for the button you need, it appears when and where you need it without any prompting on your part. This kind of intuitive help is a great feature, in my opinion. It is very useful while being non-invasive like certain paper clips we could mention.

GhostEdit Screen 4

As mentioned, GhostEdit is in private Beta stages at the time of this article, but with the success they have already achieved in design and execution of that design, I think we can expect GhostEdit to become a new standard for people who want a WYSIWYG editor that without fuss. In this, I feel that Nico Burns (the creator and coder of GhostEdit) has done a great job already and I look forward to seeing what other features he plans to bring to it in the future. GhostEdit may not have all the extras and extraneous features of some other editors like TinyMCE or others, but instead Nico has decided to focus on the basic options that everyone uses and try to execute those options better than anyone else. That kind of attention to detail can only lead to better and better freeware. I look forward to seeing GhostEdit’s finished release but in the meantime I found the demo to be well worth a few moments of my attention for future reference.

Until next time, my friends.

Check out GhostEdit here.