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WYSIWYM () is an acronym for What You See Is What You Mean, and refers to a paradigm for document editing. It is an alternative to the better-known WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) paradigm, which displays the document on screen as it will be printed.

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, instead of designing its appearance. For example, in a WYSIWYM document the user might mark text as the title of the document, the name of a section, or the name of an author. This requires the structure of the document (contents semantics) to be known before editing it. The editor also needs a system for exporting the edited text to generate the final format of the document, following the indicated structure.

The main advantage of this system is the total separation of presentation and content: users can concentrate their efforts on structuring and writing the document, rather than concerning themselves with the appearance of the document, which is left to the export system. Another advantage is that the same content can more easily be exported in different formats.


Word processors

The first[1] WYSIWYM word processor (and also first editor) was LyX. LyX is a graphical editor built on top of a LaTeX processor, so it, like LaTeX, is particularly suited for the editing of scientific documents though, again like LaTeX, it can be used for a wide variety of purposes.

Inside LyX, the structure of a document is partly determined by the 'document layout' chosen for it. These layouts correspond to LaTeX document classes, though LyX can also work with DocBook. The export process is performed in two steps. First the contents are transformed from an internal format to LaTeX, and then the LaTeX processor is used to generate the output document in the requested format (DVI, PDF, etc.). An advantage of this system is that LyX can produce any format to which a LaTeX file can itself be converted.

In web environments

Major software vendors have integrated web-page creation features into their popular WYSIWYG products to increase their perceived relevance. Users can create an HTML web page in a word processor with no knowledge of HTML. The WYSIWYG model has been criticized, primarily because of the verbosity and low quality of the generated code,[2][3][4] and there are voices advocating changing to the WYSIWYM model.[5][6][7]

RDFaCE[8] (RDFa Content Editor) is an example of WYSIWYM content editor. It is based on TinyMCE and uses dynamic CSS styles to distinguish semantic content from the normal content. RDFaCE WYSIWYM model is grounded on WYSIWYG model to facilitate semantic content authoring.

Another example of a WYSIWYM Web page editor is WYMeditor.[9] In this editor the structure of the documents is defined by CSS classes for HTML elements. These classes also contain the information about the final appearance of the document. 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.

However, more recent developments include RenovatioCMS, a CMS (Content Management System) containing editing software that supports HTML, PHP, SQL, CSS and JavaScript. The combination of these languages results in a more complex syntax. To help the author interpret the code, different aspects of the code (tags, strings, subroutines and so forth) are highlighted or given different colours. This is comparable to the way code editing software like Notepad++ or HTMLKit works. So instead of using mark-up during editing to illustrate the end result (WYSIWYG), mark-up is used to illustrate the meaning and functionality of different parts of the code.

There is another project[10] whose objective is defining a new architecture that allows the use of pure WYSIWYM editors. The structure of the documents is defined by means of a language, called WebCS, that is specifically designed for this goal. The created contents are saved in XML, tagged semantically. In order to give the contents their final appearance, the WebCS structures have an associated XSL transformation, which guides the conversion of this XML to its final format (XHTML or whatever desired file format).

In this system, the separation of presentation and content is performed by the pair XML-XSL, so it is made in an upper level of the separation given by HTML-CSS. On the other hand, the definition of new structures and transformations are a bit harder and require more knowledge. Although implementing final software is not a goal of this project, there is an editor (WebCS Editor)[11] available for demonstration purposes.

Other CMS are moving into the direction of providing some WYSIWYM interface for their users editing content. Tiki Wiki CMS/Groupware version 7.0[12] is one of them, by means of using CodeMirror in-browser editing software.

Different views for content authoring

See also


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
  • WYMeditor - Standards compliant open source WYSIWYM web-based editor
  • Extension:MeanEditor - An extension for Mediawiki providing a WYSIWYM editor based on WYMeditor
  • LyX - LyX, a WYSIWYM document processor.
  • - Scenari, a WYSIWYM XML-based editing and publishing Open Source software
  • VHWX - Vigorous Hive WYSIWYM editor for XML


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