Wysiwyg Plugin

Translator framework for WYSIWYG editors

Support for the integration of WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) editors. On its own, the only thing this plugin gives you is a stand-alone HTML to TML (topic markup language) translator script. For WYSIWYG editing you will also need to install a specific editor package such as Foswiki:Extensions.TinyMCEPlugin.

This plugin provides a generic framework that supports editing of topics using any browser-based HTML editor. It works by transforming TML into HTML for the editor, and then transforming HTML back into TML on save.


  • Supports the input of malformed HTML
  • Full round-trip (TML -> XHTML -> TML)
  • Framework is editor-agnostic


What's in the package

The package includes the following pieces:
  • TML (topic markup language) to HTML translator
  • HTML to TML translator (with stand-alone script)
  • Generic plugin for automating the translation during editing

How it works

The plugin works by translating the topic text into HTML when someone edits a topic. The HTML is then fed to the WYSIWYG editor. On save, the edited HTML is run through the reverse translation before saving to the topic. TML is used in preference to HTML in the stored topic wherever possible, though HTML may be used if the translator can't find a suitable TML equivalent.

The default rendering that Foswiki uses to generate HTML for display in browsers is 'lossy' - information in the TML is lost in the HTML output, and a round-trip (recovering the original TML from the HTML) is impossible. To solve this problem the plugin instead uses its own translation of TML to XHTML. The generated XHTML is annotated with CSS classes that support the accurate recovery of the original TML.

Before you ask the obvious question, yes, the translator could be used to replace the Foswiki rendering pipeline for generating HTML pages. In fact, the translator is taken almost directly from the implementation of the rendering pipeline for the TWiki-4 release

Translation of the HTML back to TML uses the CPAN:HTML::Parser. This parser is used in preference to a more modern XML parser, because the WYSIWYG editor may not generate fully compliant XHTML. A strict parser would risk losing content. CPAN:HTML::Parser is better at handling malformed HTML.

There is also the advantage that the translator can be used to import HTML from other sources - for example, existing web pages. Due to the simple nature of TML and the potential complexity of web pages, this translation is often lossy - i.e. there will be HTML features that can be entered by editors that will be lost in this translation step. This is especially noticeable with HTML tables.

Using the translators from Perl scripts

Both translators can be used directly from Perl scripts, for example to build your own stand-alone translators.

A stand-alone convertor script for HTML to TML is included in the installation. It can be found in tools/html2tml.pl.

Integrating a HTML Editor

The plugin can be used to integrate an HTML editor in a number of different ways.
  1. The HTML for the content-to-be-edited can be generated directly in the standard edit template.
  2. The HTML for the content-to-be-edited can be generated directly in a specialised edit template.
  3. A URL can be used to fetch the content-to-be-edited from the server, for use in an IFRAME.
  4. REST handlers can be called from Javascript to convert content.

Generating content directly in the standard edit template

This is the technique used by WYSIWYG editors that can sit on top of HTML textareas, such as TinyMCE. The topic content is pre-converted to HTML before inclusion in the standard edit template. These editors use plugins that have a beforeEditHandler and an afterEditHandler. These handlers are responsible for the conversion of topic text to HTML, and post-conversion of HTML back to TML.
  1. User hits "edit".
  2. Editor-specific plugin beforeEditHandler converts topic content to HTML by calling Foswiki::Plugins::WysiwygPlugin::TranslateTML2HTML.
  3. User edits and saves
  4. Editor-specific plugin afterEditHandler converts HTML back to TML by calling Foswiki::Plugins::WysiwygPlugin::TranslateHTML2TML.
  • WysiwygPlugin should not be enabled in configure.
  • WYSIWYGPLUGIN_WYSIWYGSKIN should not be set.
  • Your plugin should set the textareas_hijacked context id, to signal to skins to suppress their textarea manipulation functions.
This is the recommended integration technique, if your editor can support it.

Generating content directly in a specialised edit template

This technique is useful when the editor requires the topic content in a variety of different formats at the same time. In this scenario the editor uses a custom edit template. The WYSIWYG content is made available for instantiation in that template in a number of different formats. WYSIWYGPLUGIN_WYSIWYGSKIN must be set for this to work.

The flow of control is as follows:
  1. User hits "edit" with the skin (or cover) set the same as WYSIWYGPLUGIN_WYSIWYGSKIN.
  2. The WysiwygPlugin beforeEditHandler determines if the topic is WYSIWYG editable, and vetos the edit if not by redirecting to the standard edit skin. the edit
  3. The edit template containing the JS editor is instantiated.
  4. The following macros are available for expansion in the template:
    • %WYSIWYG_TEXT% expands to the HTML of the content-to-be-edited. This is suitable for use in a textarea.
    • %JAVASCRIPT_TEXT% expands to the HTML of the content-to-be-edited in a javascript constant.
  5. User edits and saves
  6. The afterEditHandler in the WyswiygPlugin sees that wysiwyg_edit is set, which triggers the conversion back to TML.

  • The HTML form in the edit template must include an <input called wysiwyg_edit and set it to 1, to trigger the conversion from HTML back to TML.
  • WYSIWYGPLUGIN_WYSIWYGSKIN must be set to the name of the skin used for WYSIWYG editing. This is often the name of the editor e.g. xinha.

Fetching content from a URL

In this scenario, the edit template is generated without the content-to-be-edited. The content is retrieved from the server using a URL e.g. from an IFRAME.

The flow of control is as follows:
  1. As Generating content directly in a specialised edit template
  2. As Generating content directly in a specialised edit template
  3. As Generating content directly in a specialised edit template
  4. When the document loads in the browser, the JS editor invokes a content URL (using an IFRAME or a XmlHttpRequest) to obtain the HTML document to be edited
    • The content URL is just a Foswiki view URL with the wysiwyg_edit parameter set.
    • The WysiwygPlugin recognises the wysiwyg_edit parameter and uses the TML2 HTML translator to prepare the text, which is then returned as text/plain to the browser.
    • Two macros, %OWEB% and %OTOPIC%, can be used in the content URL in the edit template to refer to the source topic for the content.
  5. After edit handling is as for Generating content directly in a specialised edit template

Other techniques

Asynchronous saves

Editors can use XmlHttpRequest to perform saves, by POSTing to the Foswiki save script with the wysiwyg_edit parameter set to 1. This parameter tells the beforeSaveHandler in the WysiwygPlugin to convert the content back to TML. See Command And CGIScripts for details of the other parameters to the save script.

Once the save script has completed it responds with a redirect, either to an Oops page if the save failed, or to the appropriate post-save URL (usually a view). The editor must be ready to handle this redirect.

Handling Attachments

Attachment uploads can be handled by URL requests from the editor template to the Foswiki upload script. The upload script normally redirects to the containing topic; a behaviour that you usually don't want in an editor! There are two ways to handle this:
  • If the uploads are done in an IFRAME or via XmlHttpRequest, then the 302 redirect at the end of the upload can simply be ignored.
  • You can pass noredirect to the upload script to suppress the redirect. In this case you will get a text/plain response of OK followed by a message if everything went well, or an error message if it did not.

REST handlers

If you are confident in Javascript you can use REST handlers with XmlHttpRequest to convert content from TML to HTML and back again.

The plugin defines the following REST handlers:


Converts the HTML text to TML. topic must be specified.


Converts the TML text to HTML. topic must be specified. The response is a text/plain page of converted content.

Plugin Installation Instructions

You do not need to install anything in the browser to use this extension. The following instructions are for the administrator who installs the extension on the server.

Open configure, and open the "Extensions" section. Use "Find More Extensions" to get a list of available extensions. Select "Install".

If you have any problems, or if the extension isn't available in configure, then you can still install manually from the command-line. See http://foswiki.org/Support/ManuallyInstallingExtensions for more help.

Plugin Configuration Settings

Translator control


ALERT! This is not supported currently by the TinyMCE Editor. This setting is not used.

The global preference setting WYSIWYG_EXCLUDE can be set to make the plugin sensitive to what is in a topic, before allowing it to be edited. You can set it up to veto an edit if the topic contains:
  • html - HTML tags (e.g. <div>, not including <br>), or
  • macros - simple macros (e.g. %VAR%) or
  • calls - macros with parameters e.g. %MACRO{...}%
  • pre blocks (<pre>)
  • HTML comments (<!-- ... -->)
If the plugin detects an excluded construct in the topic, it will refuse to allow the edit and will redirect to the default editor.
If you excluded calls in WYSIWYG_EXCLUDE, you can still define a subset of macros that do not block edits. this is done in the global preference setting WYSIWYG_EDITABLE_CALLS, which should be a list of macro names separated by vertical bars, with no spaces, e.g: * Set WYSIWYG_EDITABLE_CALLS = COMMENT|CALENDAR|INCLUDE

You should set WYSIWYG_EXCLUDE and WYSIWYG_EDITABLE_CALLS in Site Preferences, or in Web Preferences for each web.

WYSIWYGPLUGIN_PROTECT_EXISTING_TAGS - Protect specific tags originally in the topic text

The WYSIWYGPLUGIN_PROTECT_EXISTING_TAGS preference tells the translator that certain HTML tags which were originally in the topic text should remain as HTML tags; the translator will not try to convert them to TML.

The default setting for this preference is defined within the plugin. It corresponds to div, span.

This feature may be disabled by setting the preference to a single comma. Thi does not guarantee that HTML markup will be removed; the conversion of HTML tags to TML markup remains subject to the other controls provided by the WysiwygPlugin, including the WYSIWYGPLUGIN_STICKYBITS preference, <sticky> blocks, <literal> blocks and the rules applied to tables and lists.

WYSIWYGPLUGIN_STICKYBITS - Protect tags based upon their arguments

You can define the global preference WYSIWYGPLUGIN_STICKYBITS to stop the plugin from ever trying to convert specific HTML tags into TML when certain specific attributes are present on the tag. This is most useful when you have styling or alignment information in tags that must be preserved.

This preference setting is used to tell the translator which attributes, when present on a tag, make it "stick" i.e. block conversion back to TML.
For example, setting it to table=background,lang;tr=valign will stop the translator from trying to convert any table tag that has background or lang attributes, and any tr tag that has a valign attribute back to Foswiki | table | column | markup (regardless of where that table tag comes from).

This setting is used only after the page has been processed by the editor. If the editor does not support a particular tag or attribute and the editor corrupts the tag, this setting will not be helpful. It is only used to prevent an HTML tag from being converted back to TML.

Format of the setting is tag1=attrib,attrib;tag2=attrib. Attributes delimited by comma, and tags delimited by semicolon.
  • The left side of the equal sign is the tag.
  • The right side of the equal sign is a comma delimited list of attributes to be matched.
If a matching tag is found, that matches any of the attributes listed, the tag will not be converted back to TML. You can use perl regular expressions to match tag and attribute names, so .*=id,on.* will ensure that any tag with an id or on* event handler is kept as HTML.

The default setting for this preference are hard coded in the plugin. If you wish to change the settings, the following list is the default setting coded in the plugin:

If you edit using the plain-text editor, you can use the <sticky>..</sticky> tags to delimit HTML (or TML) that you do not want to be WYSIWYG edited.

Implementors note if you are using your own before/after edit handlers, you can call Foswiki::Plugins::WysiwygPlugin::isWysiwygEditable() to check these controls.

Known issues

Incompatible with "non-standard" syntax

Wysiwyg Plugin is incompatible with plugins that expand non-standard syntax e.g. Foswiki:Extensions.MathModePlugin (Wysiwyg Plugin)

Plugins that extend the syntax using macros, such as %MYMACRO%, should work fine.

Implementors note plugins that use XML-like tags may call Foswiki::Plugins::WysiwygPlugin::addXMLTag() from their initPlugin handlers to make Wysiwyg Plugin protect the content between XML-like tags, just like it does for macros.

Overlapping styles

Because Foswiki uses a "best guess" approach to some formatting, it allows overlapping of tags in a way forbidden by HTML, and it is impossible to guarantee 100% that formatting in the original Foswiki document will still be there when the same document is loaded and then saved through the Wysiwyg Plugin. The most obvious case of this is to do with styles. For example, the sentence
*bold _bold-italic* italic_
is legal in TML, but in HTML is represented by
<strong>bold <em>bold-italic</em></strong> <em>italic</em>
which gets translated back to TML as
*bold _bold-italic_* _italic_
which is correct by construction, but does not render correctly in Foswiki. This problem is unfortunately unavoidable due to the way TML works.

Rowspan processing needs Table Plugin

Wysiwyg Plugin is able to convert tables with cells that span rows into TML. This requires syntax provided by the Table Plugin (that is, the | ^ | markup). Wysiwyg Plugin will therefore only perform row-span related conversion if Table Plugin is enabled. Table Plugin is enabled by default and hence Wysiwyg Plugin converts tables with cells that span rows between TML and HTML by default.

If Table Plugin is not enabled, then TML table cells containing only ^ are not converted to rowspans, and HTML tables containing rowspans are not converted to TML.

Tiny MCEPlugin integration

  • Foswikitask:Item2174 - Wysiwyg Plugin removes line breaks
    • Work-around: Use the * Set NOWYSIWYG = 1 setting to disable WYSIWYG on line-sensitive topics
  • Foswikitask:Item1396 - Anchors are not handled by Wysiwyg Plugin
  • Foswikitask:Item5955 - Wysiwyg Plugin fails to roundtrip tables with align="center", border attributes, etc.
    • Description: Sometimes tables will fail to be converted to TML syntax (will stay as HTML) because there are attributes on the table (such as alignment or border decorations) that Wysiwyg Plugin does not know how to preserve. If such attributes are necessary, please use Var TABLE instead.
    • Work-around:
      • Click inside the offending table
      • Click the table toolbar button (usually used to create a new table)
      • With the exception of Cols and Rows, delete/reset all content from the fields on the 'General' and 'Advanced' tabs.
      • Write a Var TABLE macro above the offending table that adds the desired attributes safely

Plugin Info

This plugin is brought to you by a WikiRing partner - working together to improve your wiki experience!

Many thanks to the following sponsors for supporting this work:

Author: Crawford Currie, Foswiki Contributors
Copyright © ILOG 2005 http://www.ilog.fr
© 2008-2011 Foswiki Contributors
License GPL (Gnu General Public License)
Version: 11387 (2011-04-10)
Release: 1.1.2
Change History:  
11 Apr 2011 (1.1.2) Version released with Foswiki 1.1.3. Only a minor change related to how the plugin is being upgraded
19 Jan 2011 (1.1.1) Foswikitask:Item10271: Switch to x.y.z release numbering
Foswikitask:Item10048: Try to use Macros in the src URLs of images with titles
Foswikitask:Item9973: Fix attachments REST handler to deal with topics named with international characters
Foswikitask:Item1391: Protect div and span tags with style attributes
28 Jun 2010 Foswikitask:Item761, Foswikitask:Item2311, Foswikitask:Item5990, Foswikitask:Item9170: Fix conversion between character encodings. Any characters may be entered in the WYSIWYG editor, regardless of the site's encoding. Where possible, they are converted to the site encoding, otherwise they become entities.
Foswikitask:Item2254: Fix cursor-movement problems on Mozilla browsers (introduced by Foswikitask:Item1798)
Foswikitask:Item2605: Can now place cursor into empty list-item
Foswikitask:Item1417: Can now move cursor above a table at start of a topic and below a table at the end of the topic
Foswikitask:Item9148: Protect <br /> tags at the end of a protected line (e.g. in a macro parameter)
Foswikitask:Item6068: Protect newlines within a <pre> block
Foswikitask:Item2259: Keep the content of <big> and <var> tags
Foswikitask:Item8289: Fix stand-alone (command-line) HTML-to-TML conversion
21 May 2010 Foswikitask:Item5221: Use Wysiwyg transition to remove usually unwanted paragraph html tags in table cells, which are otherwise impossible to remove in TinyMCE up to at least 3.3.6
Foswikitask:Item8274: Fix problem where Wysiwyg transition merges two consecutive lists (a result of work on Foswikitask:Item2254)
17 Jan 2010 Foswikitask:Item2337: ATTACHFILESIZELIMIT check fails confusingly if value is "0 "
18 Dec 2009 Foswikitask:Item2511: move code out of the plugin module to accelerate loading
18 Nov 2009 Foswikitask:Item2369: Convert tables with cells that span rows
22 Oct 2009 Foswikitask:Item2183: Protect div style= by default
18 Sep 2009 Foswikitask:Item1980: Prevent dataloss when saving a topic in Wysiwyg where there are a pair of sticky tags inside verbatim tags
28 Jun 2009 Foswikitask:Item1770: Protect XML tags registered by plugins, and not just the content between them (Michael Tempest)
06 Jun 2009 Foswikitask:Item1013: Correct dependency on HTML::Parser (Will Norris) Foswikitask:Item1397: Foswikitask:Item1535: Foswikitask:Item1666: Correct processing of colour and typewriter-text in several situations, include application to bold text and table cells (Michael Tempest) Foswikitask:Item1667: Remove unwanted extra <sticky> tags (Michael Tempest) Foswikitask:Item1674: Let plugins register XML tags that should be protected like macros
10 Apr 2009 Foswikitask:Item1394: fixed colour handling
03 Dec 2008 Foswikitask:Item6041: fixed empty bullet list problem. Foswiki version
22 Oct 2008 Fixed TWikibug:Item5961 (emphasis), TWikibug:Item6089 (backslash in verbatim)
07 Aug 2008 Fixed TWikibug:Item5707 (mod_perl)
03 Aug 2008 TWiki 4.2.1 release version
25 May 2008 TWikibug:Item5457: TWikibug:Item5528: TWikibug:Item5626: using a debug simulation, I believe I have finally fixed all the complexities of using international character sets with the translator.
13 Apr 2008 TWikibug:Item4946: TWikibug:Item5530: I think I have finally fixed non-iso-8859-1 character sets. Painful. TWikibug:Item5393: removed spurious DIV generated by IE inside LI tags
31 Mar 2008 TWikibug:Item5314: TWikibug:Item5457: Fixed pickaxe mode for editing UTF-8. Characters above 255 are converted to entitites, which is a bit of a PITA, but at least it no longer corrupts topics.
28 Mar 2008 TWikibug:Item5294: fixed angle brackets in plain text and promoted sticky to be higher priority than any other tag, solving several problems in one go
24 Jan 2008 TWikibug:Item5257: remove extra spaces at end of Set lines
20 Dec 2007 TWikibug:Item5022: made TT font size same as verbatim. Had to add a new style to do it, as TMCE didn't want to play with TT or CODE tags. TWikibug:Item5138: post-conversion of 8-bit entities to characters to aid searching etc.
19 Dec 2007 TWikibug:Item4836: make the parser tolerant of META, so pasting OO docs works TWikibug:Item4969: autoclose BR and HR tags TWikibug:Item5132: fixed IMG tags TWikibug:Item5076: fixed line-sensitive TML embedded in tables
08 Nov 2007 TWikibug:Item4923: fixed blocking of table conversion due to empty attributes TWikibug:Item4936: An em embedded in an em was getting eaten TWikibug:Item4817: added typewriter text button TWikibug:Item4850: added font colour controls TWikibug:Item4645: added REST handlers for upload and fetching lists of attachments
02 Nov 2007 TWikibug:Item4903: corrected over-enthusiastive interpretation of ! as an escape
21 Oct 2007 TWikibug:Item4788: fixed unbalanced protect, which could cause loss of protected status TWikibug:Item4811: noautolink looks like an HTML construct but in fact is not; the tag is infact an "on-off" switch and does not imply any HTML structure, so cannot be converted to a DIV or a span, so has to be removed. TWikibug:Item4747: added <sticky> to try to overcome limitations in translation TWikibug:Item4831: added increased flexibility in deciding what HTML get converted to TML, and what does not. Analysed all the HTML4 tags to establish initial settings. TWikibug:Item4847: don't call non-existent function with older HTML::Parser releases TWikibug:Item4844: Saving a table from IE didn't convert it back to TML TWikibug:Item4855: table rows generated from TWiki variables were being eaten
06 Oct 2007 TWikibug:Item4700: fixed colspans TWikibug:Item4701: removed extra line between %TABLE and the table TWikibug:Item4705: fixed spacing around literal and verbatim blocks TWikibug:Item4706: merge adjacent verbatim blocks separated only by whitespace TWikibug:Item4712: fixed eating of noautolink and literal TWikibug:Item4763: list items spanning multiple lines fixed TWikibug:Item4867: released tml2html
17 Sep 2007 TWikibug:Item4647: TWikibug:Item4652: problems related to DIV fixed. TWikibug:Item4653: fixed multi-line twiki variables
16 Sep 2007 TWikibug:Item4630: polished up the way the secret string is done, to ensure synch between perl and JS. Item4622: added UTF-8 handling steps that fixup malformed UTF8 strings before presenting them to the editor (saves Moz) and stops the editor passing them back to TWiki (saves IE). Removed extra entity decoding steps that were causing problems. TWikibug:Item4629: fixed issues with verbatim, highlighted by previous mangling of this topic
13 Sep 2007 TWikibug:Item4613 cleaned up spurious message when navigating away TWikibug:Item4615 fixed incorrect rendering of emphasis next to br
12 Sep 2007 TWikibug:Item4604 Fixes to REST handler, and add ability to trigger HTML2 TML conversion from a content comment alone (required for some editors) TWikibug:Item4588 fixes to conversion of double-character emphases
07 Sep 2007 TWikibug:Item4503 excess empty lines TWikibug:Item4486 no toc headers with unofficial syntax TWikibug:Item4560: empty lines lost TWikibug:Item4566: corrupted table on save TWikibug:Item4550 section tags being eaten
04 Sep 2007 TWikibug:Item4534 TWikibug:Item4535 fixed
See Subversion logs for earlier revisions
HTML::Parser>=3.28Required. Available from CPAN.
HTML::Entities>=1.25Required. Available from CPAN.
Plugin Home: http://foswiki.org/Extensions/WysiwygPlugin
Support: http://foswiki.org/Support/WysiwygPlugin

Topic revision: r1 - 16 Apr 2011 - 20:29:22 - Wiki Guest

This site is powered by FoswikiCopyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this site is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding Foswiki? Send feedback