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I am the webmaster and everything else technical for a tiny startup company. Some static content is being written in MS-Word by stakeholders. What is the best process to get HTML content instead? They aren't married to MS-Word, and the content is pretty simple. Can someone recommend a simple HTML editor for this purpose? I can set up the initial document structure, they just need to modify or extend the content.

I think it would simplest if they could do this offline, opening the HTML file in some Windows application, and then send me the updated file for installation. Later I will want them to be able to upload the content to the test site.

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Are you looking for something online or offline - or do you prefer? If I understand you correctly you want a box where users will type ENTER and <br> will be created, etc...? Do you want the HTML to be visible as they type or do you want them to see WYSIWYG but you get the HTML on the back-end somehow? –  joshuahedlund Dec 6 '11 at 21:38
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5 Answers

MS Word is terrifying, because it is very often used for exactly what you described and it works very poorly.

Here is what I have used:

1) WordPad

PROs: Easy to import and clean Word Documents

Cons: Requires custom serializer (html conversion)

2) Mozilla Editor

Pros: What you see is what you get. Can include CSS.

Cons: Possible to create effects that won't work. Also if your boss gets good at HTML you might lose your job...

3) Dreamweaver

Pros: Same as above. Good copy-paste support from MS Office.

Cons: Same as above. More expensive - although many freelancers and companies have extra copies laying around.

Bottom Line

Dreamweaver worked the best because it enabled us to insert and prepare images, and I didn't lose my job because the main site is a customized mess of PHP.

edit: For mass content creation I had to write custom tools. These tools relied on an RTF style controller.

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My mother uses Kompozer to do some basic authoring -- she was a public school educator for 36 years and is fairly tech-savvy, but needed something easy.

Kompozer is a completely re-written version of Nvu. Open source, free, available in several languages.

I think it's powerfuly enough for most basic authors, and you end up with fairly well constructed html.

I've found Dreamweaver to be too heavy for most novice users.

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Now, what is wrong with setting up CMS. There are choices for every platform and written in any language you feel comfortable with.

Most of the CMS'es worth their salt either already have WYSIWYG editors, or can be easily modified via widely available plugins to add one.

You can also add workflows to have an extra step between submitting a change and publishing it to the general public.

The most obvious choices are: Drupal, Joomla and WordPress if you can deploy PHP, Plone if you have server that runs Python, but there are plenty for Java, C#, Ruby, Smalltalk, and others...

The choices above are all open source and fairly stable and robust and they all have good community of users to turn to or if you should ever need some custom modules developed.

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Adobe Contribute is good for this. Allows you as the developer to control the regions of a page that content creators are allowed to edit and supports editing files via FTP. You can also make it so content changes can't go live until you approve them.

http://www.adobe.com/products/contribute.html

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+1 to that. One person needs Dreamweaver to set up the templates though, which define the editable areas. You can't create forms with Contribute, just basic text, but that may be enough for you. –  paulmorriss Dec 7 '11 at 9:51
    
If you got bucks to burn, this is actually pretty good solution. –  Roland Tepp Dec 10 '11 at 15:08
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Eeeek! Word... :)

What I would recommend is to implement some WYSIWYG-editor (What You See Is What You Get) on your site.

That way the people can just directly change the pages online and see the results.

However I would also implement something like a staging plan where you first have to allow the changes after verifying them.

Less technical users tend to break things :)

I have used CKEditor and TineMCE in the past.

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