Managing Content in the Back End

Once upon a time, web development was easy. Your typical web development contract looked somewhat like the following.

  1. Design the front end of the website
  2. Offer training to client to update their own website, or
  3. Offer your wonderful hourly fees for you to update their website

Now, customers want to be able to manage their own content. They want to be able to edit and add data on the fly without any learning curve. In short, its gotta be easier than using Microsoft Word.

My foray into a ‘customer managed’ site started years ago, and my sidekick champion was Macromedia Contribute, now called Adobe Contribute. It was easy. Simply build the site the way you’ve always have, and tell the customer to use Contribute to edit their content. It was the ultimate stepping stone. But then, customers wanted to get creative and be able to mange their own data from creation through to publishing. The simply slapped-on editing platform didn’t quite do the trick.

Multiple programming languages exist now for the web, and each come with its own way of handling data and processing. I started my venture into this technical wilderness with ASP 2.0, and later managed to find myself somewhere in the middle of the PHP crowd. Aside from programming the logic on the back end, one of the choices we make is how we enable customers to manage their data, and what tools we provide them.



I’ve been using FCKEditor for a while now, and its recently been updated. With the update, the developers decided to drop the F, making it CKEditor. It’s funny when a customer decides to view the files on the server and finds filenames that begin with fck.

Integrating CKEditor into your site is actually relatively simple.

1- Call the javascript file for the editor
<script type=”text/javascript” src=”../ckeditor.js”></script>
2- Add a form text area to either enter data or load data
<textarea class=”ckeditor” cols=”80″ id=”editor1″ name=”editor1″ rows=”10″>This is the text within the editor.</textarea>
<textarea class=”ckeditor” cols=”80″ id=”editor1″ name=”editor1″ rows=”10″><?php echo $your_content; ?></textarea>

With CKEditor, its the ‘word’ walk in the park. Other editors similar to this exist, one of which is Tiny MCE. In the end, you choose what works for you, and works for your customer.

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