Safe Editing Practices When Using an Online Editor


Here at Gizmo's Freeware you have access to an online editor to edit your articles or write your forum posts.

Using an online editor requires a little care. Writing an article live online is not a foolproof exercise. Work can be lost and just vapourize into the ether.

It's easy to overlook this until you actually lose some work. Here are some guidelines to avoid tears at bedtime.

Why does work get lost?

Because you're working with an ethereal and virtual construct. It doesn't really exist, and if you want it to continue doing so you need to get real.

You are virtually typing on a plugin editor pane in a browser on a PC in communication with a plugin in a CMS on a server maybe on the other side of the world. The line between the two takes 15 hops on the journey and jumps between copper wire and fibre optic, thousands of miles down streets, through mountains and under the sea. It gets attenuated then re-amplified. Parts of it go via a different route, to avoid boredom.

And you want it all to work perfectly and stick there on a virtual whiteboard that passers-by can check out. Well, mostly it does, but there are no guarantees.

How to fix it

Work safe. Never do more than a minute or so's work that can get "disappeared".

For a start, try not to write it up online in the first place, do the main work offline in a text editor. Paste that into the CMS online editor, then file your original text safely.

Avoid using Word, WYSIWYG html editors and other editors that embed formatting commands into the text.  It's a much better practice to write offline in plain text and then add the formatting using the online editor. That way the format of your article will be preserved even if we change our site template.

Also, edit your text online. It's true that the result may then be altered and expanded until it's 100% different from your original, but there's nothing like seeing the finished result in a browser to show you all that needs doing. But remember to hit that Save button and continue working all the time. On Drupal,  "saving" sometimes throws you back out to the finished view but it's easy enough to start editing again.

To make things easier, you can work with two tabs or panes open. In the left tab (for modern browser users) or left window (for fans of Netscape 2 or skinny browser users), have the editor page with the live edit running. In the right tab have the normal article view.

You can type in the left-hand view then refresh and refer to the right-hand view as necessary (it's easier to read & understand the text in the standard view). Also remember that there's only one way to leave the page with the edit saved: hit the Save button at the bottom. If you simply hit View in the top tabs, you'll lose everything done since your last save.

Or for rich techno freaks with 64-bit triple-boot systems and mega plasma screens, running Compiz virtualised within WinSplit Devolution or whatever, why not have a variety of screens whizzing around your multi-3D environment. Pass me that e-cig now, thanks.

Save a copy

Every time you make a major edit, save a copy of the page in a local file. To do this on Windows with Firefox, create a folder in My Docs called web.backups, and with the page to be saved open in Firefox, go to File >> Save Page As... [drill down to] My Documents\web.backups >> hit Save. Then you have a local file of the page all the time.

Backup, kids, run off a firm copy. You know it makes sense.