Going forward on the WYSIWYG / RTE roadmap, more fun with blocks

As I explained in an earlier blog post, I was tasked by Acquia (specifically Dries) to identify and propose fixes to issues around integrating visual content editors (WYSIWYG = What You See Is What You Get or RTE = Rich Text Editor). Instead of rushing to select an RTE, the focus of my roadmap is to solidify input format support in Drupal so that integrating a visual editor becomes a peace of cake at the end hopefully.

Textarea and format identification

Drupal 7 formats patchDrupal is very flexible and this makes integrating an RTE harder compared to one-purpose systems. First I tried to deliver a solution for RTEs to identify the form fields to attach to. For this to work, we need input format metadata attached to form elements, which is implemented in issue #125315 with the new #input_format Form API key. This suffers from some parenting issues still (does not support multiple format selectors in one form), which we need to solve before being able to commit. On the same angle, the RTE should know whether that format has anything to do with the format supported by the RTE, be it HTML, wiki markup or bbcode for example. Drupal uses HTML by default, and administrators need to explicitly disallow HTML. This setting however was tucked down in the "Filter HTML" filter, which made it non-intuitive to identify. So issue #24988 deals with breaking that out to its own filter for easy non-HTML format identification. This way we can easily disable HTML RTEs on such formats.

Putting permissions to place

Simplifying input format setup is quite important. Right now, there is a disconcert between setting up general permissions and input format access settings. Although the later configuration maps input formats to user roles, it is implemented in its own custom permission system. By leveraging the core permissions system for this in #110242, just like the node permissions are implemented with their dynamic names, we clean up the user interface, bring in consistency to permission setup and also simplify the API.

More fun with blocks

Finally, there are quite a few textarea based input interfaces without format support in Drupal core still. For some site settings, like the contact page help or the user registration help, I think it makes a lot of sense to just use blocks. By making the help area an official theme region, we can put the help text there as a block, and allow users to add any number of blocks to the help region to add more custom help to any page. The one-off solutions for contact page help and user registration help can be easily generalized to an admin-configurable custom help system in issue #240873. By using blocks in the help region, admins can limit and share help between different pages, provide different help for different roles and use any format for their help input. If this sounds a lot like the helpedit module or somewhat like the helptip module, that's not a coincidence, this simple change would move some of the features of these modules to core.