One of the most predominant online text editors on the market -- the open source JavaScript WYSIWYG TinyMCE Editor -- will be offered under a commercial license and with enterprise support options thanks to the partnership between Ephox (news, site) and Moxiecode, the developers of this editor.

Background on TinyMCE

TinyMCE is an open source and JavaScript-based HTML editor popular among many content authoring systems (e.g. WordPress) and open source content management systems such as Alfresco and Joomla!. It has been downloaded more than 2 million times.

TinyMCE has also been gaining momentum with commercial Web CMSs and Enterprise CMSs such as EPiServer, Autonomy Interwoven and Oracle's enterprise collaboration platform Beehive.

Ephox and Rich Text Editors

Ephox's own editor EditLive! is used in many Enterprise CMS and Web CMS products, including EMC Documentum, IBM, Oracle and Percussion. Adding yet another popular editor to Ephox's portfolio may look like at attempt at online editing world domination.

Ephox will bring enterprise-level support and development resources to TinyMCE, furthering its product quality and market reach. According to Andrew Roberts, CEO of Ephox, this partnership will also bring better cross-timezone coverage.

Roberts notes that building editors is quite difficult, as there're not that many people committing, and it's the details that matter. He says that in TinyMCE, copy/paste from MS Word capabilities can be improved. EditLive! -- built in Java -- handles that rather well.

The New Combined Offering for Various Enterprise Levels

Ephox is set to offer Enterprise TinyMCE in 3 levels: Gold, Silver and Bronze. The top one, Gold subscription, includes a commercial license, email and phone support, installation guidance, and upgrade services for unlimited users. The Silver and Bronze entitle you to a commercial license; alas, sans support.

There will also be a Community Edition version under the LGPL open source license. While this edition will be free, the commercial offers start at US$ 345 per site.

To differentiate between commercial and free versions, Ephox distributions of TinyMCE will have some extras in the version number. Currently, TinyMCE is 3.3.6, Ephox TinyMCE will be positioned under 3.3.6-­‐169.

What This Means to Customers and Content Management Vendors

Ephox and Moxiecode will be competing collectively against arguably the only other major open source competitor out there -- the FCKEditor and its younger sibling CKEditor -- which are also used by commercial (e.g. Kentico CMS) and open source web content management vendors (e.g. DotNetNuke) and blogging tools like WordPress, and boasts more than 3.5 million downloads.

Oracle is one of the examples of vendors on a larger enterprise scale, as CKEditor is being used in their enterprise collaboration platform Beehive Oracle Application Express.

The need for enterprise-level support and licensing for TinyMCE is quite understandable. Surely, there are many companies (just like those who don't quite "believe" in open source in general) who would prefer a standard commercial license instead of any of the open source licenses.

Roberts also mentioned that there are plans to release an integrated version of the two editors. Now, that could be interesting. Right now, he said, there's no delta between community and Ephox Enterprise TinyMCE versions, but there are plans to add more features to the enterprise edition, including accessibility, collaboration features.

Both editors have their advantages and drawbacks, but it is definitely interesting to see the two join forces and enter/re-enter the commercial rich text/online editing market. On the other hand, commercial vendors realizing the capabilities of open source vendors is yet another sign of times of broader acceptance of OSS.