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I'm wondering why the Stack Exchange sites use the WMD editor instead of other HTML editors like TinyMCE, for example, which renders the resulting HTML in the text area itself, or even markItUp!.

Can anyone elaborate on the advantages and disadvantages of using one type of editor versus the other?

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Not an objective answer, but to me, it's just better. It's human-readable and extremely easy to memorize –  Pëkka Mar 10 '11 at 16:18
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This is an interesting question, and deserves an interesting answer... Unfortunately, I don't have time to write one right now, but anyone wanting to do so should first read: Potential Markup and Editing Choices and Markdown, One Year Later... These aptly describe the origins of Markdown on SO. –  Shog9 Mar 10 '11 at 16:32
    
Now, there's an argument to be made that Markdown, while suitable for programmers, is just too much for non-technical users. Before you make that argument, read Treating User Myopia... –  Shog9 Mar 10 '11 at 16:32
    
Finally, see Why doesn't the site use a rich text editor?, which is close (if not a duplicate of) this. –  Shog9 Mar 10 '11 at 16:37

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Simple answer, I think, because it works. Which is a lot more than can be said for any in-browser HTML editors I've seen, including TinyMCE. They fall down badly on IE, it has this seemingly unsolvable habit of inserting <p> markup by itself. I haven't yet seen one editor that knew how to really deal with that, although they all contain hacks to try.

The only reason I know anything about this is because it was such a massive problem at the Microsoft MSDN forums. They accept posts in HTML and render them back in HTML which requires an HTML editor to modify the post. Layout disasters are everywhere. After over 6 years of trying to find a decent editor, having tried about everything from home-grown to 3rd party, they still haven't solved the problem.

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