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20 Excellent Free Rich-Text Editors

Resources, Web Development | Dec 2, 2008

Rich-text editors, also known as online rich-text editors, are web components that allow users to edit and enter text within a web browser. Rich-text editors are used in numerous ways such as in enhancing your comment input form or as part of a web application that allows entry of user-generated and formatted content. Rich-text editors are essentially web-based WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) editors.

There are many rich-text editors out there. What’s even better than a lot of choices? Many of the best rich-text editors currently in the market are free.

In this article, we present 20 exceptional (and free) rich-text editors.

 

1. TinyMCE

TinyMCE is an open source (under the GNU Lesser General Public License) rich-text editor released and maintained by Moxiecode. As indicated by the name, TinyMCE is lightweight but highly customizable through an intuitive API. TinyMCE’s plugin system allows you to download themes and plugins to extend the core installation.

TinyMCE |Demo | Download

 

2. FCK Editor

FCKeditor is another wildly popular open source online rich-text editor (check out some of the websites that use it). It has a “Word clean-up” feature that automatically detects and cleans up text that’s copied from Microsoft Word documents. It has one of the best HTML table editing and creation features, making it very easy for users to create and edit tables for displaying data.

FCKeditor | Demo | Download

 

3. NicEdit

NicEdit is lightweight, no-fuss cross-platform rich-text editor that emphasizes user-friendliness and simplicity over barraging users with too many features. You can serve NicEdit remotely from the NicEdit website; all you have to do is copy a JavaScript code snipplet and voila – it just works (as well as saving your server some system resources).

NicEdit
| Demo | Download

 

4. BXE

BXE is an XML-based WYSIWYG editor that allows you to change an entire web page. It has been an open source application since 2002 – and with a devout following – you might be able to quickly find some help if you run into any issues in the BXE IRC channel.

BXE | Demo | Download

 

5. MarkItUp!

markItUp! is a JavaScript-based markup editor built on top of the jQuery library. With markItUp!, you can easily turn any HTML textarea into a fully-featured WYSIWYG editor. It’s lightweight (the script weighs in at only 6.5kb), supports keyboard shortcuts, has a built-in Ajax live preview and many more features that make markItUp! an excellent choice.

markItUp! | Demo | Download

 

6. WidgEditor

The widgEditor is an open source project of Cameron Adams released under the GNU General Public License. It’s a simple and no-fuss HTML rich-text editing solution that converts regular HTML textareas into a WYSIWYG. Because it’s JavaScript-based and designed to degrade gracefully, users with JavaScript turned off will still be able to use the HTML textarea.

widgEditor | Demo | Download

 

7. EditArea

EditArea is a free JavaScript source code editor. It’s an excellent solution for weblogs and websites that allow developers to contribute and format their own code.

 

8. Cross Browser Rich Text Editor (RTE)

Cross-Browser Rich Text Editor (“RTE” for short) is a free rich-text editor released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license. It’s a work based on the designMode functionality introduced in Internet Explorer 5 and implemented in the Mozilla Rich Text Editing API. It just has basic features, so it’s perfect for individuals looking to add simple rich-text editing support.

Cross-Browser Rich Text Editor (RTE) | Demo

 

9. YUI Library Rich Text Editor

The YUI Library Rich Text Editor is a UI control that’s part of the YUI Library. It’s a great solution for those already using YUI and individuals that want to save some server resources (since you can serve it directly from the Yahoo! servers). The YUI Library Rich Text Editor also has excellent mobile device support, making it a great web-accessible rich-text editing solution.

Yahoo! UI Library: Rich Text Editor | Demo | Download

 

10. FreeTextBox

Web professionals using the .NET framework that want to add editing capabilities to their web pages and web applications should check out FreeTextBox: a robust, fully-featured, and extremely popular rich-text editor for ASP.NET. It has a built-in image gallery, a helpful JavaScript API for customization, and a full list of editing controls for constructing tables, ordered/unordered lists, and even spellchecking (using the IE spellchecking engine).

FreeTextBox | Demo | Download

 

11. Damn Small Rich Text Editor

Damn Small Rich Text Editor (DSRTE) is a lightweight, free rich-text editor built on top of the jQuery library and a PHP backend. It’s plugin-enabled (meaning it’s highly-extensible), has image-uploading capabilities (using Ajax for responsive user interaction), and an HTML cleanup feature to tidy up messy markup.

Damn Small Rich Text Editor | Download

 

12. Silverlight Rich Text Editor

Silverlight rich text editor is the first rich-text editor for Silverlight. It has many useful features such as “find and replace” to quickly find specific text or to batch-replace them with something else, keyboard shortcuts support, serialization of text input for security, and much more. Note that the original creator has stopped further development (so cross your fingers someone picks up his project).

Silverlight rich text editor | Demo | Download

 

13. Free Rich Text Editor

Free Rich Text Editor is a free, JavaScript-based HTML rich-text editing solution released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license. The interface is reminiscent of Microsoft Word 2003’s interface, so users of this desktop application will find it quite familiar. It has everything you’d expect from a robust rich-text editor, as well as a code view to preview and edit the HTML source code directly.

Free Rich Text Editor | Demo | Download

 

14. Dijit.Editor

The Dijit.Editor is Dijit‘s (Dojo‘s widget library) fully-featured rich-text editor. Built on top of The Dojo Toolkit (a popular JavaScript library/framework); it’s an excellent solution for those already using the Dojo Toolkit.

Dijit.Editor

 

15. WYMeditor

WYMeditor is a web-based HTML editor that emphasizes the use of standards-compliant markup. It was developed to output compliant HTML 4.01 Strict Doctype HTML, so it’s the perfect solution for the standards-aware developer.

WYMeditor | Demo | Download

 

16. Whizzywig

Whizzywig is a free JavaScript web-based rich-text editor. Aside from features you’d expect from a rich-text editor, Whizzywig also has a Spanish and German version, a web-safe color picker to change your text’s colors, and custom-designed UI controls.

Whizzywig | Demo

 

17. openWYSIWYG

openWYSIWYG is a free and feature-packed web-based content editor that’s perfect for a host of content management systems. It has a very intuitive “table creation” feature to help users construct HTML tables. It also has a wide range of browser support including IE 5.5+ (Windows), Firefox 1.0+, Mozilla 1.3+ and Netscape 7+.

openWYSIWYG | Demo | Download

 

18. XStandard

XStandard is a highly-standards-compliant rich-text editor. It comes in two versions: XStandard Lite – which is completely free, and XStandard Pro. XStandard Lite has Microsoft Word text cleanup, spellchecking, and the ability to interact with third-party applications.

XStandard | Download

 

19. Xinha

Xinha is an open source, community-built rich-text editor released under a BSD style license. It’s highly-configurable, extensible, and feature-packed. Xinha emphasizes on community development, and as such, you’ll find many helpful contributors in the Xinha forums.

Xinha | Demo | Download

 

20. Kupu

Kupu is an open source “document-centered” client-side rich-text editor released by the international association for Open Source Content Management (OSCOM). It features easy integration into a variety of content management systems including Silva and Plone, easy customization and extension, and Ajax saving for an uninterrupted user experience.

Kupu | Demo | Download

What’s your favorite? Do you currently use any of these rich-text editors? Do you use one that isn’t on the list? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments.

Written exclusively for WDD by Jacob Gube. He is a Web developer/designer and author of Six Revisions, a blog on Web development and design. If you want to connect with the author, you can follow him on Twitter.

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  • http://www.darkpixelstudio.net/ Fuzzbling

    Nice list, thank you!

  • http://www.chris-wallace.com Chris W.

    Damn Jacob, this is quite a list of RTEs! You should start a blog or something.

  • http://www.wymeditor.org/ WYMeditor

    Hi Jacob,

    FYI, WYMeditor outputs XHTML 1.0 Strict, not HTML 4.01 Strict, which is quite different :)

  • http://www.iconwebdesigns.net Dean

    Thanks for the list. I look forward to digging into them.

    As a developer of websites, who often deals with clients who want to create/edit their own content, WYSIWYG editors often cause more problems than they are worth. Don’t get me wrong, they can be very useful, especially if you already know HTML and CSS. It’s the assumption that they are as flexible and foolproof as Microsoft Word that makes me crazy.

    I would be very interested in knowing what everyone else thinks.

    Thanks again for the list. Useful stuff!

  • http://www.forwardslashmarketing.co.uk/ Gidseo

    They all look like bloatware compared to metapad!
    http://liquidninja.com/metapad/

    • Steve

      @Gidseo – I think you’ll find Metapad is a Notebook replacement while these are rich text editors for use in a web based application.

  • Jarryd

    I personally use FCKEditor with my CMS, but YUI and MarkItUp! look promising!

  • http://www.spearia.com Ray Brown

    Wow, what a list! I’ve used several of these, and my top three are (in order):
    1. NicEdit
    2. FCK Editor
    3. TinyMCE

    Using NicEdit, I turned an admin panel’s textareas into full-featured, painless rich text editors in a matter of seconds. Ridiculous!

  • http://www.whatsthebigidea.com David Radovanovic

    Great selection!

    I’ve tried FCK Editor and TinyMCE on my WordPress installations. Though both offer a great selection of formatting plugins, WordPress texturize and filtering can wreak havoc on code. I wish there was a simple editor that included the ability to disable WordPress’ filtering codex per post/page. Maybe in 2.7.

    Thanks for showing me some editors I haven’t seen before.

  • http://www.creative-web-designer.com Scott Donald

    great stuff

  • http://blog.insicdesigns.com/ insic

    Tiny MCE is the best for me. Nice article

  • awebcreature

    I don’t understand, where is KTML?
    What happened with this editor? … the one, with full integration with Dreamweaver

  • http://www.htootayzar.com Htoo Tay Zar

    Wow, Great List for RTE I’ve ever seen. Currently i use ThinyMCE for now i can use more. thanks

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  • http://theunixgeek.blogspot.com The Unix Geek

    Not all rich text editors are web-based. For example, on Windows, WordPad is a rich text editor, and on OS X, TextEdit is a rich text editor.

    I think you should make that clear in the beginning; otherwise, it gives the impression that all rich text editors are web-based.

  • http://nemesisdesign.net Federico Capoano

    Very nice list. Useful.
    Will save in delicious.

    Thanks

  • http://www.serversidemagazine.com Gyorgy

    Cool list. I was just looking for a good text editor

  • ben

    I’ve used tinyMCE and EditArea, both have worked great.

    If you want to see the website that uses EditArea you can visit http://collabedit.com

  • http://www.wallpaperfree.co.uk wallpapers

    don’t forget notepad++ my favourite

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  • http://capsizedesigns.com Mike

    @wallpapers

    Ha, this is a list of RTE’s that can be embedded into web pages, not standalone apps. It was a good effort, though.

  • http://messadmin.sourceforge.net Cédrik

    FYI, the successor of RTE is called RTEF, and comes with full source code: http://rtef.info/

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  • http://www.duzodesign.com Timothy

    I have to agree w/ insic. Tiny MCE is my favorite. But, it is a bit of a pain in the ass to modify.

  • http://henrylearnstorock.blogspot.com Henry Ho

    Perfect! That’s just what I need!

  • http://www.vileworks.com Stefan

    I hate Tiny MCE. But I still use it :|
    I think I’ll give a go through the ones I didn’t know in the list to see if I find anything better.

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  • Socrata

    I’ve looked through the documentation on a few of these editors and they assume a basic sense of their use which unfortuantely I lack. In the examples I’ve reviewed, these “editors” only update within their own page. I don’t understand the usefulness of this.

    I would be very interested in allowing my user to update a static version of their pages by using an “dynamic version” that contains one of these editors. They have ftp ability so server updates are unnecessary. Can the scripts be modified to reach out of it’s own page on a local computer and update a div of an analogous html page? I see TinyMCE seeming to do this, but can’t put my finger on what within the pages to point to the target page.

    I also use WordPress and think their editor is fine, so I also don’t understand what’s the point, for instance, of installing TinyMCE in WordPress.

    Any help would be appreciated.

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  • http://www.faridhadi.com Farid Hadi

    This is an awesome collection!
    Thanks Jacob.

  • http://www.lonelypixel.info Lonelypixel

    i tried before almost all of them but FCKeditor is the useful one. im usually using it on cms forms.

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  • http://eternalblackzero.blogspot.com/ blackzero85

    I use metapad. :D It’s more than enough.

  • Matt

    At the risk of tooting my horn, you might also want to check out the Loki Editor, which we developed at Carleton College:

    http://loki-editor.googlecode.com
    http://apps.carleton.edu/opensource/loki/

    It’s a standards- and semantics- focused editor that is open source, free, can be readily integrated with CMSes, etc.

    I will have to check out WYMeditor, which seems like a similar project.

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  • http://makrel.pl makrel

    There are 4 worth attention: FCKEditor, TinyMCE (these two have images manager and so a different league than the others), Yahoo and apparently NicEdit. All are good-looking, which is very important. Yahoo editor is, well, Yahoo, the big boys. Nic I see for the first time, a slick little thing, could use HTML view. Lot of experience with FCKEditor, sometimes was hard to configure and had no support for Opera, lately this seems to have changed for the better.

  • Erwin Heiser

    2 words come to mind: Textile and Markdown.
    I have to agree with Dean here, none of these editors (bar Markitup perhaps) can output clean and valid (X)HTML and are often more trouble than they’re worth.

    • Dan

      “XStandard is a highly-standards-compliant rich-text editor”

      I think that is the whole point of XStandard that is produces clean and valid XHTML.

  • http://devolute.net devolute

    I personally use TinyMCE when I need to, but these things are more effort than they’re worth! BB code (or similar) is a brilliant option imho.

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  • http://nicesspace.com Addy

    plss add subcrible rss with email.
    i want subcrible your blog. :)

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  • http://pctrick.wordpress.com/ kate

    perfect:)

  • http://dezinerfolio.com Navdeep

    Nice list…

  • http://- gheo

    fckeditor is nice WYSIWYG. tray it..

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  • http://www.commit.web.id radyan

    i preferred use TinyMCE for all my CMS

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  • Edwin

    Still not sure wich one is the best. Now using FCKeditor, but I think TinyMCE is also very good.

  • http://www.ezcomputers.co.za EZ Computers

    Pretty cool list :)
    Very interesting to see what else is out there

  • Mudflapper

    Um, and for Mac?

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  • http://www.virtualsubmitter.com Startup

    Thanks for the great list of text editors……..these will help me in my web applications

  • http://sixrevisions.com Jacob Gube

    Thank you everyone for your input and for sharing your opinions.

  • http://www.vibgyorlife.com vibgyorlife

    Excellent Information. Great! Thanks for sharing.

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  • http://gleb.garipov.com Gleb

    Very usefull! Thank you!

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  • http://www.3fay.com 3fay.com

    Nice list, thank you!

  • Nil

    TinyMCE

    Hi its really Good….! worked on each input…
    Thanks

    ~Nil’s~….The Rockstar

  • ted devito

    i agree with the opinion that XHTML compliance matters. it seems like an architecture issue, where instead of depending on sending a command as a string to execCommand(), an engine should be set up to handle those requests manually. the editable area can still be activated with Elem.contentEditable = true, but instead of sending commands to the browser, just cancel them all and use your own methods.

    can anyone give me some feedback on that?

    here’s my RTE wish list:

    1. simple and clean – how about something quick and easy that gives me (and my clients) a majority of block-level HTML control, images, links and some css? 20 buttons max, but far short of MS Word (most of the time we’re writing for blogs, forums and product listings anyway right? we’re not printing this stuff!)

    2. XHTML – oriented instead of bloating the text with inline styles (which, however ugly, does seem to work reasonably well, which means a clean XHTML solution must be comparable and not trip over itself if the user does something unusual)

    3. css class styling capable, with the ability to pass available styles on instantiation – i’m sure this has been offered so seldomly because most editors are not prepared to handle specific operations to block-level elements (and of course there is no standard in the browsers’ built-in methods)

    4. easy to tap into with custom actions – beyond button configuration and ordering, i would like it to be easy to customize what happens when a button is clicked, especially regarding inserting images.

    5. auto paste from MS Word cleanup – undesirable? maybe. essential? seems like it!

    i don’t think RTE’s are more trouble than they’re worth, but i do feel that an easy, clean and effective solution (like all the selector libraries out there) has not quite hit the scene yet.

    thanks for the great list!

  • http://code.google.com/p/lwrte/ plandem

    I released a jQuery RTE/WYSIWYG plugin recently :) Someone wanna try to test? :)

    http://code.google.com/p/lwrte/

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  • Andrea

    I’ve always used Web Wiz Rich Text Editor: it’s free, easy to use and configure and works even for old Mac (lo)users

  • http://bingu.net 冰古

    I found markItUp is perfect.

  • http://canvasgrafix.com Kids Wall Art

    I’ve never had to use anything but TinyMCE in my web applications. It is easily to install and it works! Simple as that.

  • http://harrymahardhika.com Harry M

    Exellent list… thanks…

  • netuser
  • http://vabis.net ZigBie

    punyMCE – small and very powerfull.

  • http://www.marocplus.net Directory marocplus

    YUI Library Rich Text Editor & TinyMCE it’s very nice
    thanks

  • solo

    “punyMCE – small and very powerfull.”

    ZigBie, thank you for that information, its really really good and really really light.. thanks :)

  • alfeto

    NicEdit is the best ever.

    Stupidly fast and simple, only requires 2 lines to be added to your code.

  • Mark Eddie

    i found another good rich text editor from jquery plugin

    http://jqframework.com/jQRTE

  • http://www.philipstel.com Philips Tel

    good stuff….

    thanks…that is very useful for some my projects….
    i’ve been search for richtext editor in another site,
    but i think this is the best that ever i found. There are 20 demos of RTE…….
    Very nice….

    Thank you…..

  • martin joseph

    Great list of rtes.. Thanks for that.

    I have been circling around rtes for abt 2 months. I have used a bit of yui rte. The rest i am not sure of. Could u suggest 2 or 3 in particular which might support my following rewuirements

    1. Easy to use
    2. Support client side spell checking
    3. Affordable
    4. Easy API and good documentation

    YUI rte does not support any spell checking (built-in spell checking) but it has good documentation. It also requires quite a number of files css and js files for using it
    unlike some of the rtes mentioned here which say require just one js file

  • Neil

    Telerik RAD Editor FTW!

  • http://www.facefinance.com/shanghai-a-stock-back-to-the-3400-points Shanghai A-Stock

    I love reading your blog,nice post.

  • Naveeb

    Thank for ur help bro

  • http://www.mushroomdigital.co.uk website design

    Thanks for the list of editors. Need to replace this damn FCK Editor, No end of trouble. Brilliant!

  • kdehairy

    I use YUI. sure it requires that you know javascript well enough, but if that is not a problem for you .. it’s perfect. highly customizable .. you can even change the behavior of the toolbar buttons to do what ever you want (i changed the behavior of the ‘insert image’ button to load my own photo gallery).. you can add toobars of your own if you have to. besides it’s very documented .. very.

  • Altairzq

    Installed NicEdit and had two problems:
    1) Pressing Enter to create a newline didn’t work in FF 3.5.2. Found a couple of persons with the same problem in the forums but no replies to their post.
    2) Indent broke the textarea and lost the text, if pushed too far.

  • Altairzq

    Installed Whyzzywig, won’t work giving the following error:

    o(idTa) is null
    http://localhost//js/whizzywig.js
    Line 32

    Couldn’t find any post in the forums regarding this.

    • Altairzq

      *I edited the url in my message and left one slash by mistake.

  • Altairzq

    Tried tinyMCE, had some problems that now honestly I don’t remember.

    I went back to NicEdit, only problem is that creating a newline when pressing enter doesn’t work in FF when it’s inside a tag.

    • Altairzq

      *when the textarea is inside an ordered or unordered html list.

  • bank

    thanks man.i had been search for this for along time

  • http://www.niazbin.com Mohsen

    Tanx a lot

    i share this page on my web site

  • abc

    thanks

  • http://www.webwizguide.com/webwizrichtexteditor/ ImproperUsername

    I find, for Classic ASP web forms, that the free Web Wiz Guide Rich Text Editor is the one with the best features plus being easiest to integrate, if you want to include file uploads and file browsing in your form.

  • Jean

    Nice
    Work

  • Mazin

    Nice Work
    Thanks

  • http://www.ishantechnologies.com James

    Nice list.

  • http://www.ayushkumar.com seo specialist

    I love TinyMCE editor, its very similar to MS Office and very user friendly too. Thank for sharing this with us.

  • http://www.dekorativa.si/ Lamelne Zavese

    Great list ! Very usefull! Thanks !

  • http://www.kaplang.com/blog Michelle

    some really good editors there, thanks

  • Jacob

    To bootstrap a simple TinyMCE based CMS to any website, you can use PageLime.

    Also, the Telerik RadEditor is a good one for the ASP.NET sites.

  • http://www.chotrul.com/skills/design-markup.html Chotrul Web Design

    FCK Editor is embedded in a couple of online applications I’ve used, and in a CMS I’ve used. I have to say it was a truly awful experience! You couldn’t even select an entire tag, as the selection you tried to drag always went half way over into another tag, making editing code an extremely tedious process. :-(

  • http://www.techiesweb.net Shyju

    Is there anyone available which i can use free of cost for my company’s product ?

  • http://arslogic.ca arslogic

    there is mooEditable for mootools : http://cheeaun.github.com/mooeditable/

  • http://www.kidneydialysis.org.uk dr john

    I’ve been considering adding just such an editor to a small web database app I’m currently building, and wasn’t sure what to use. Now I’m so spoilt for choice with so many to play with, I could spend more time experimenting with this lot than finishing the app. ;)

    A great little list to have, I only knew of about a quarter of them.

  • http://qdown.co.cc Ahmet

    i use fck editor thanks for post

  • keno

    Great collection.. helped me alot, keep it up cos people like me need guys like u.. Thanks again

  • http://www.driving-experiences.uk.com George Block

    Nice list. I looked into this whole area about 4 years ago and started using TinyMCE but it wasn’t as stable as I needed so I dropped it. However I now have a further requirement to build WYSIWYG editing into a blog CMS so I will now be going through these to see which best suits my needs. Thanks for saving me a lot of online research work.

  • Yani

    FCK Editor Great, doesn’t totally muck up white space in code like most of the others.

  • DC

    The one thing that none of them seem to be able to manage is successfully pasting formatted text from WordPerfect – everything always pastes as plain text. Has anyone found a web-based RTE that correctly pastes formatted text from WordPerfect?

  • http://www.ozoneeleven.com/ Aisha

    Beautiful Site, I really like it.

  • http://www.bestpackersnmovers.com syedmuktha

    Worthy material. Has taken into consideration a lot of the useful. I wish successes I Can tell with confidence that the blog will be will replenish

  • Rayhan

    The best one is Nic Edit

  • http://bulduktrans.businesscard.at/ bulduktrans

    Need to replace this damn FCK Editor, No end of trouble.

  • Yani

    FCK is my choice on Drupal installs. Best linking options.

  • Umer Saleem

    You have done a great job… Saved lots of time googling out for RTF’s. Cheers!!!

  • http://www.toroca.co.uk Tom Cash

    Excellent list, thank you!

  • Annie17

    Hi,
    I use an editor online, very funcional and free.
    Try http://www.online-html-editor.net , its free and simple to work on it.

  • http://ClassicASPreference.com Lil

    @Annie17 — that’s just an installation of TinyMCE, you silly girl! ;) Get TinyMCE here:
    http://tinymce.moxiecode.com

  • Danish

    Hi,
    Non of the editors work in IE8. I have tried playing with demos in Firefox, Google Chrome, and IE8. It works okay with first two, however it does not with IE8. Does any one know what do I need to do? I have enabled jscript in the browser already.

    Please guide.
    /Danish

  • Palanikumar

    Hi ,

    Very nice examples and its saves my lots of times and what i need.

  • http://izdelavainternetnihstrani.wordpress.com/ izdelava strani

    Wow! I never thought that there are so many of this editors. Now I dont know which to pick :D

    Thank you for this!

  • subramanyam

    Great! can any body tell me to take the print Screen of the desktop and directly we can paste into the editor.

    Thanks in advance

  • http://www.svalu.com/ Ali

    very useful…

    Thanks