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Different views for content authoring

In computing, What You See Is What You Mean (WYSIWYM, ) is a paradigm for editing a structured document. It is an adjunct to the better-known WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) paradigm, which displays the end result of a formatted document as it will appear on screen or in print -- without showing the descriptive code underneath.[1]

In a WYSIWYM editor, the user writes the contents in a structured way, marking the content according to its meaning, its significance in the document, and leaves its final appearance up to one or more separate style sheets. In essence, it aims to accurately display the contents being conveyed, rather than the actual formatting associated with it.[2]

For example, in a WYSIWYM document, one would manually mark text as the title of the document, the name of a section, the caption associated with a figure, or the name of an author; this would in turn allow one element, such as section headings, to be rendered as large bold text in one style sheet, or as red center justified text in another, without further manual intervention.[3] More often than not, this requires the semantic structure of the document to be decided in advance before writing it. The editor also needs a system for exporting structured content to generate the document's final format, following the indicated structure.

The main advantage of this system is the total separation of presentation and content: users can structure and write the document once, rather than repeatedly alternating between the two modes of presentation -- an approach which comes with its own switch cost. And since the rendering of formatting is left to the export system, this also makes it easier to achieve consistency in design as well.[4]

Document processors

Unlike an unstructured, fixed-presentation document, a document processor rather than a word processor must be used for WYSIWYM. The first document processor which articulated[5] itself through the WYSIWYM term was LyX document processor, although similar concepts can be traced back to earlier publishing systems such as LaTeX,[4]TPS (modeled on pioneering experiments at Xerox PARC) and -- probably the most popular one -- FrameMaker.

For example, in FrameMaker, a document may be authored (i.e., viewed and edited) using two possible page views, the styling tags (called "formats") and contents of a document reside in "body pages", while structure and presentation are defined by "master pages".[a] Multiple such documents can be linked together and programmed conditionally for a variety of applications. These elements can then be exported to corresponding tags which preserve some or all of their functionality in a markup language such as XML/HTML/CSS and PDF, or directly rendered down for final presentation in anything from PostScript to raw text.

A different approach to the WYSIWYM philosophy is taken by GNU TeXmacs, which combines the on-screen representation of the document structure with an almost-faithful WYSIWYG rendering.[7]

In web environments

Major software vendors have integrated web-page creation features into their popular WYSIWYG products to increase their utility. Users can create an HTML web page in a word processor with no knowledge of HTML, but like nearly all IDE authored or handwritten web markup, these tools' automated analysis of the source format rarely accounts for a distinction between HTML's content and its presentation through means such as CSS during output.

Such fixed-presentation HTML generators have been criticized, primarily because of the bloatedness and low quality of their code,[8][9][10] and there are voices advocating for changes to the WYSIWYM model.[11][12][13]

One example of a WYSIWYM Web page editor is WYMeditor.[14] In this editor, the structure of the documents is defined by the class attributes of HTML elements. These classes also allow the final appearance of the document to be applied. Although WYMeditor follows a WYSIWYM model, the document format is always HTML, so the new structures to be defined are limited to new classes, and the final document will always be built by applying presentational elements to these classes.

Other CMSs are moving in the direction of providing some WYSIWYM interface for their users editing content. Tiki Wiki CMS/Groupware version 7.0[15] is one of them, by means of using CodeMirror in-browser editing software. Also Doctored.js is an open source XML editor with a WYSIWYM interface.

See also


  1. ^ Strictly speaking, this explanation of FrameMaker's page views applies only to so-called "unstructured documents". These page views are not to be confused with the commonly known FrameMaker modes used for authoring different types of documents. The mode for unstructured documents is called "Unstructured FrameMaker" or simply "FrameMaker" whereas the mode for the so-called "structured documents" is called "Structured FrameMaker". Starting from FrameMaker 12, it also offers a third mode, called "FrameMaker XML Author".[6]


  1. ^ "What is WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get)? - Definition from WhatIs.com". WhatIs.com. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "WYSIWYM - EduTech Wiki". edutechwiki.unige.ch. Retrieved .
  3. ^ "LyX | What is LyX?". www.lyx.org. Retrieved .
  4. ^ a b "The Definitive, Non-Technical Introduction to LaTeX, Professional Typesetting and Scientific Publishing". Math Vault. 2015-09-05. Retrieved .
  5. ^ "Public release of LyX version 1.0.0". www.mail-archive.com. Retrieved .
  6. ^ "Adobe FrameMaker 12". help.adobe.com. Retrieved .
  7. ^ van der Hoeven, Joris (2001). "GNU TeXmacs, A free, structured, wysiwyg and technical text editor". Cahiers Gutenberg. 39-40: 39-50.
  8. ^ Sauer, C.: WYSIWIKI - Questioning WYSIWYG in the Internet Age. In: Wikimania (2006)
  9. ^ Spiesser, J., Kitchen, L.: Optimization of HTML automatically generated by WYSIWYG programs. In: 13th International Conference on World Wide Web, pp. 355-364. WWW '04. ACM, New York, NY (New York, NY, USA, May 17-20, 2004)
  10. ^ de Vries, D.J. (2010-10-29). "RenovatioCMS - An innovative view". Retrieved .
  11. ^ Roger Johansson. "456BereaStreet". 456BereaStreet. Retrieved .
  12. ^ Peter Krantz (2006-12-05). "standards-schmandards". standards-schmandards. Retrieved .
  13. ^ "Thom Shannon's blog". Ts0.com. 2007-09-19. Archived from the original on 2012-02-07. Retrieved .
  14. ^ "WYMeditor: web-based XHTML editor". Retrieved 2011.
  15. ^ "Tiki7". Doc.tiki.org. 2012-04-22. Retrieved .

External links

  • RDFaCE - an open source RDFa Editor based upon the WYSIWYM principle
  • RenovatioCMS - A free and open source content management system based upon the WYSIWYM principle (last update in 2011)
  • WYMeditor - Standards compliant open source WYSIWYM web-based editor (last update in 2015)
  • LyX - LyX, a WYSIWYM document processor
  • scenari-platform.org - Scenari, a WYSIWYM XML-based editing and publishing Open Source software (last update in 2007)
  • jquery-wysiwym - A free simple WYSIWYM editor
  • Texts - Markdown WYSIWYM editor for Windows and Mac OS X

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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