I’ve been very impressed with Word Press in the 6 months or so since I’ve “dove in” to it.
However, I was very surprised to find that the standard Visual Editor in WP has no way to create a tables (IE: no Table widget in the toolbar, no wizard, etc…) and even more surprised by the near silence on this issue.
Several faculty noticed this as well (thus, I’m not the only one) and you’d think having a Table Wizard on the toolbar would be standard fare of an WYSIWYG editor these days (not to mention other formatting tools).
I kept thinking that we were somehow missing the boat and simply overlooking the obvious….. Especially when my Google searches didn’t find the answer – I thought I was just having a bad brain day. Eventually I came to see that I was right – there simply was no built-in method in WP to do tables in the Visual Editor. I was stunned that WP, as awesome as it is, didn’t have this as part of the basic core.
Here’s the options I’ve found in my research:
1. Create the table in MS-Word, MS-Excel and then paste it into the visual editor
2. Write the HTML yourself, use an HTML wizard on a website, or your favorite HTML editor (Dream Weaver, etc..) to generate the HTML, then in the WP editor, switch to HTML mode and then cut-n-paste it into your WP page/post.
3. Use Microsoft Live Writer 2010 (free client-side windows app) – as it has many fine features AND allows you to completely manage your posts AND pages. It also has it’s one set of plug-ins (go here: Windows Live Gallery), but the standard install seems to do most of what you’ll need.
4. Find a WP Plug-in that provides the missing table feature (and other formatting tools)
a. WP Super Edit: WordPress › WP Super Edit « Word Press Plug-ins
c. FolioPress: WordPress › Foliopress WYSIWYG « WordPress Plugins
Live Writer Pros: I’ve just installed Live Writer this morning and have been testing it – and it looks pretty nice and seems to work well. Has many nice formatting features and is similar to http://scribefire.com (free popular browser add-on for Fire Fox/Safari/Chrome). But, is not as limiting as Scribe Fire. Scribe Fire does NOT have the table wizard NOR does it have the ability to create or edit “Pages” – it can only do “Posts”. However, Live Writer can do both. And you can create new pages/posts off-line and then publish them later (which might come in handy sometime).
Live Writer Cons: It is yet another “app” that has to be installed/managed/upgraded AND you’ll have to teach people how to use it (though it’s not hard…. But you know how it is..) Being a Microsoft app, it might yet be inserting a lot of junk into each post/page that you create (not sure if this is the case…. Just guessing on past experience). I did see a lot of positive reviews of it from WP users, however, I think I may have stumbled across a complaint from someone that later edited the “table” in the WP editor which had earlier been created using Live Writer and it messed up the formatting. It’s possible this was an issue with an earlier release of WP and/or with an earlier release of Live Writer – so take this with a grain of salt – you’ll need to try that out and see if it really is an issue or not.
Oh, and one more Con for Live Writer. You guessed it. Being a Microsoft product, it only runs on Windows XP/Windows 7. So, the Mac and Linux crowd get left out. Not good.
WP Plug-ins: I’m going to review/install/test the 3 plug-ins mentioned above (the 1st is probably the best one) and see which one is the best (if any).
I want to find the optimal solution and if WP is working on adding more formatting features to the standard Visual Editor, as the best option is always to stick to the core product – the less plug-ins and/or other ancillary software we have to utilize, the easier it is to administer (less stuff to install/upgrade, less potential breakage when upgrading, less potential security breaches, less training of the end-users, etc…).