Declarative Amsterdam

Petal - An in-browser editor for LwDITA

Charaf Eddine CheraaEvolved Binary
Adam RetterORCID logoEvolved Binary
With the meteoric rise of HTML5 and the slow demise of XHTML, simple in-browser WYSIWYG editors for producing XML documents have all but disappeared. Today, there are numerous Open Source JavaScript components for simple in-browser editors (e.g. CKEeditor, Editor.js, Quill, TinyMCE, etc.) that produce documents in a subset of HTML5. Likewise, there are free and commercial SaaS offerings that edit and publish reStructuredText or Markdown documents from within the browser (e.g.,, and The lack of simple in-browser XML editors, is likely driven by several factors: 1. The complexity of offering a full XML editor. One of the advantages of XML is its flexibility, an author can arbitrarily decide on their document structure, and element and attribute names, however this adds complexity to any such editor. Conversely schema languages for XML that limit that flexibility by enforcing a certain document grammar, then require extra parsing and validation steps by the editor. 2. A decrease in XML processing support within the browser itself. 3. A perceived reduction in what constitutes an acceptable level of re-use and presentation for technical documentation. When compared to HTML5, Markdown, and reStructuredText, we believe that there are still key advantages that can be exploited by using XML for technical documentation. For the purposes of authoring and publishing the documentation for FusionDB Server, we examined several markup formats but ultimately settled on LwDITA. We intend to show that LwDITA occupies an optimum position, it allows us to reap the benefits of XML, whilst remaining simple enough to allow us to develop a simple and compliant in-browser editor. Whilst we acknowledge that there are a handful of existing commercial and/or enterprise offerings which include in-browser XML editors (e.g. Oxygen XML Web Author, easyDITA, Xopus, etc.), they are in themselves very comprehensive and complex products with accompanying costs. Rather, we intend to both discuss the construction of, and demonstrate, our in-browser LwDITA editor as an intentionally simple solution for editing technical documentation.
Presentation, 9 October 2020
Charaf Eddine Cheraa is an Engineer at Evolved Binary. He started developing as a hobby using QBasic in 2004, and since then has used many development languages for different purposes. Recently, he has worked mostly on web apps.