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Netscape DevEdge sports a news about Midas, a rich-text editing feature that works with with Mozilla 1.3:

Mozilla 1.3 introduces Midas, an implementation of Microsoft Internet Explorer's designMode feature. The version of Midas in Mozilla 1.3 supports the designMode feature which turns HTML documents into rich-text editors.

I am always happy to see anything that helps content managers get a little comfort to edit texts that are supposed to go on web standards-compliant pages, especially when it works on Macs. But in this case, Midas falls short of doing the job and curiously tarnish the otherwise excellent job that DevEdge evangelists are doing to promote web standards:

  • It is an old-school rich text editor, i.e. it again gives the content managers the impression that they can modify font types, size and half a dozen more presentational elements that should be driven by a CSS file.
  • It re-introduces the content+presentation mix that web standards were supposed to suppress. For example, where the IE equivalent (and pretty much any other rich-text editors do) will use the correct semantic markup <em> and <strong>, Midas will bloat your code with this: <span style="font-style: italic;">emphasis</span> <span style="font-weight: bold;">strong</span>. How cute!

Sure, technically speaking it will produce code that validates. But can someone explain to me how I am supposed to control the presentation of an entire web site with this powerful idea of site-wise styles sheets and semantic markup, when the web is full of rich-text editors that maintain content managers in the idea that they can control both the text and the presentation and that actually produce a code mix that is anything but a validable tag soup? By getting my content managers learn XHTML? Dream on!

My plea to the DevEdge evangelists: give a crash-course on web standards with a hint on semantic markup to Midas' developers, please!