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WYSIWYG Editor - Introduction

thedatabank is pleased to offer an HTML Editor that works on all of the major browsers: Internet Explorer (versions 7, 8, and 9), Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera.

The HTML Editor also works on all major operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux, and Unix. We are excited to be able to offer a single editing program that all of our clients can use to create email messages.

Please take some time to peruse this user guide and the WYSIWYG Editor - Tools to help you become familiar with the many features available in the HTML Editor.

 

General Tips

  • Save frequently! It takes a lot of effort to make a nice-looking email message. Don't take a chance on losing your work.
  • Document size is limited to 100,000 characters. Your message is stored as a combination of the content you type or copy in, plus the hidden HTML that formats your content. Both count toward the 100,000 character limit. Image sizes do not count toward the total, because images are referenced in the document, not embedded in the document.

    Tips for reducing document size:
    • Put the full articles on your web site and just have teasers with links to the articles in your email message.
    • Always start from a template or from scratch. E.g., if you have a weekly newsletter, and you always start this week's newsletter by copying from last week's newsletter, then over time you are likely to accumulate excess formatting HTML. Starting from a template keeps the excess down. (Word processors accumulate excess formatting code too, but document size is much more of a concern in an email than it is in a word processing document, because word processing documents are rarely sent to hundreds, or thousands, of people at a time.)
    • Simplify the design of your email templates.
    • Eliminate non-essential content, or put less essential content on your web site and add a "More articles" link to your email message.
    • Use the Paste from Word tool when copying content from Word or Office documents, from emails, or from web sites. Office documents in particular add a great deal of Office-specific HTML code that not only greatly increases the size of your document, but can cause your message to display incorrectly, or not at all, in many email programs - including Microsoft's own email programs.
    • Another way to avoid excess HTML when copying content is to use the Paste as Plain Text tool. This removes all HTML from your content, leaving only the text. This is the equivalent of copying into a text editor such as Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac), and then copying from the text editor and pasting to this editor. With the Paste as Plain Text method you will lose all formatting and you'll need to re-format the content way you want it, using this editor.
  • For branding and to help your recipients recognize who the email is from, try to make your emails resemble your web site. BUT - try also to keep your emails relatively simple. This is especially important for recipients who use web mail programs such as AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo. If your email makes heavy use of CSS styles, your styles may be overridden by or combined with styles used by the web mail program, yielding unexpected results. As a compromise, you may wish to stick with your color scheme and use your logo at the top, but otherwise not exactly match your web site.
  • Go easy on the images! Spam filters check the ratio of image content versus text content. They like to see much more text than image content. Otherwise they think you're selling pills or sending pornography. Have you ever seen emails with a bunch of gibberish words and an image(s)? The gibberish words are there to try to get around this spam check!

    For recipients on dial-up connections, lots of images means long download times, which can frustrate the recipient into not reading your email, or worse yet, marking it as spam.

    Color schemes are "cheap" ways to attract attention and gain recognition, so this again points to using a familiar color scheme and a logo, but being very selective about other images.

  • HTML email is much more likely to be flagged as spam. Always test your email against a spam filter before sending. thedatabank provides a link to an online service that analyzes your email for "spamminess" and recommends improvements.
  • Send your email to test addresses at several domains. E.g., check out how your email looks at a couple of web mail sites, as well as how it looks in your desktop mail program (e.g., Outlook, Thunderbird, Notes, etc.). Note that it may take a long time to see your test at some web mail sites. In particular, AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, MSN, and Yahoo mail servers are under constant strain because they have so many subscribers that they are spam magnets. If the email doesn't look quite right in a web mail program, the first rule is to simplify. But sometimes nothing seems to work!

Comparison to Word Processors

The HTML Editor's basic operation is intentionally similar to that of a desktop word processor.

  • Choose a feature, such as Bold text, by clicking the appropriate button on the toolbar. Then start typing. The text you type has the selected feature applied.
  • For text that already exists, select a portion of the text, then click a button on the toolbar, such as the Bold button, to apply that feature to the text. Click again to remove the feature from the text.
  • Right click at any time for a context menu of features applicable at that point in the text. (Mac users: use Ctrl+Click if you have a 1-button mouse.) This is especially useful in tables. The context menus are really the only way to add or remove columns and rows, to apply settings to specific table cells, etc. If your browser is not displaying the editor's context menus, check your browser's JavaScript settings to make sure JavaScripts are allowed to "see" right-clicks.
  • As in a desktop word processor, many features require you to fill in additional information in a popup window. For proper operation of the editor, set your browser or popup manager to always allow popups from thedatabank.com. thedatabank only uses popup windows to enhance the functionality of its online applications. We do not use popup windows to present ads or infect your computer with malware.

There are important ways in which the HTML Editor is different than a desktop word processor.

  • The toolbar and context menus are the only way to select features. This differs from most desktop word processors, which also have menus to select features from. There is no "ribbon" in the HTML Editor.
  • In most contexts, pressing Enter creates a new paragraph. To start a new line without the extra vertical spacing of a paragraph, press Shift+Enter. This may be different than your desktop word processor, where the result of Enter and Shift+Enter may depend on the type of document you are creating. One exception to the rule is in numbered lists and bulleted lists. There, pressing Enter starts a new bullet.
  • In a desktop word processor you are not generally concerned about the size of the document or any images or other resources contained in the document. On the Internet, and especially with email, it's very important to keep your message succinct and keep its size down.

    For your readers, a succinct message is more likely to be read, and a message that downloads quickly is important to readers on dialup connections.

    If you examine your membership's email addresses, you'll probably see that the majority of your email gets sent to AOL, Gmail, Hotmail/MSN/Winows Live, and Yahoo. These ISP's are under a constant barrage of incoming email, most of it spam, so they are very aggressive at protecting their networks. They are more likely view large messages as spam or denial of service attacks.

    Images can be the worst offenders. You may have a nice, concise message, but you've attached a picture to it. You took the picture with your 12 megapixel camera, so it's very beautiful, with amazing detail. It's also very large! Many people are unaware of how large image files are, and the damage they can do to your email reputation if you mass mail them. In addition, large images can take a long time to download to mobile devices, which can be frustrating to your readers. For these reasons, the HTML Editor doesn't allow you to add images to your library unless they are less than 350Kb in size (even this is pretty big for an email). So if you want to send that image from your digital camera, you'll first need to learn how to edit it to make it smaller.

    Historically, emails made up of numerous small images have been used to send pornographic material, drug ads, and other spam content. For this reason, spam filters examine the ratio of text content to image content. If they find too much image and too little text, it will increase your spam score, and may prevent your email from being delivered.

    Bottom line: Use images judiciously in your emails!

  • Popup windows in a desktop word processor need no special security measures. Popups on the Internet have historically been used maliciously to annoy you, fool you, infect your computer, or even take over your computer. Popup blockers were invented to protect against malicious use of popup windows on the Internet. For correct operation of the editor, you'll need to set your browser or popup manager to always allow popups from thedatabank.com. thedatabank only uses popup windows to enhance the functionality of its online applications. We do not use popup windows for ads or to infect your computer with malware.

    If a feature does not appear to be working, look around on your browser screen to see if there are any notices that a popup or content has been blocked. Your browser should allow you to say you want to view the content, and give you the option to always accept content/popups from the domain (thedatabank.com).
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