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Convert formatted text to valid HTML using TextEdit
Authored by: Mike Perry on Aug 30, '06 08:46:06AM
Sigh, this is a classic problem with all too many programmers, or at least those in the paid, corporate world. (I'm looking at you Microsoft.) Give them a simple problem, and they'll make it more complicated to create a challenge and add job security.

llscots is right. Quite often we don't want to move the WYSIWYG formatting to another document, we just want to move HTML or character/paragraph styles along with the text. I don't know how many times I've tried to drive home to developers the point that we want to leave fonts and other "how it looks" issues in the hands of the IMporting application. Ideally, the EXporting application shouldn't even include them. I almost had a book go to print with some weird, brief passages in Times Roman (the virus font) that Word didn't strip out when it exported rtf and that InDesign didn't strip out when it imported rtf.

Earlier this week I evalutated Mellel, a lightweight but powerful word processor that makes very effective use of styles. I gave up getting it when I discovered that Mellel's rtf export strips out Mellel's styles and just created raw, highly formatted text. And that's a small company that I talked with over and over about the need to export the styles they're so proud of inside their application. And yes, it can also export in XML now, but importing XML into InDesign is poorly documented and needlessly complex. All I want are character and paragraph style tags (which could also be HTML tags). They could hire probably hire a bright 12-year-old who could code that.

And that's the problem. It's too simple and straight-forward. It's much more fun to muck about with all sorts of complex coding to recreate the "look and feel."

What we need is a text editor that simply tags text, tagging both paragraphs and sections of text (i.e. with italic). On export it writes those tags out in a form other applications understand, HTML for the web, RTF for Word, MIF for Framemaker, IDIF for InDesign and so forth. For simply transfering style names, that's a trivial task. InDesign's interchange format for paragraph style names is almost identical to HTMLs. Then when we've imported that styled text, it's easy to give meaning to the styles. This application could also be smart enough to change styles names between import and export. Heading 1 in Word/RTF on import, could become H1 for HTML on export. That'd let us interchange documents in HTML, Word, InDesign, Framemaker or whatever without having to cut out a lot of useless formatting clutter.

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Convert formatted text to valid HTML using TextEdit
Authored by: ddauerbach on Aug 30, '06 10:34:16AM

Mike Perry's wants sound exactly like the word processor I use. The bad news is that I use it in a virtual DOS machine. It's called XyWrite.

I did just update my Mellel and I'm curious to see how it will do exporting for web purposes. Of course, Dreamweaver does a pretty good job cleaning up.

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