What to know:
You might not know it, but many CMS platforms have been “tinyfied.”
I don’t mean “minified,” as in made smaller – or “gentrified,” though some apps out there could use a bit of that.
No, “tinyfied” is how TinyMCE refers to content management systems that utilize its rich text editor. It’s a fun moniker for a tool that’s essential to every CMS, enabling users to create formatted content using simple WYSIWYGs.
The role of the text editor in a CMS can’t be overstated. In addition to adding raw content, they can be used to create lists, tables, and other elements. The functionality of an editor can also be extended via plugins and customizations based on a platform’s needs.
Many CMSes have adopted TinyMCE as their default editor, while others have implemented it into various modules and plugins. Which platforms, you ask? According to the company’s documentation, the list includes Alfresco, dotCMS, Umbraco, WordPress, and other notable brands (like Shopify) – all relying on TinyMCE to shape content editing.
Now, TinyMCE is introducing OpenAI’s powerful GPT models to its text editor. The new solution comes with pre-written prompts and writing tools and provides a familiar, intuitive UI that works within existing designs and structures.
I recently spoke with TinyMCE’s Fredrik Danielsson, Principal Product Manager, and Elise Bentley, VP of Marketing, about the company’s new AI Assistant. They shared how the novel features will benefit users while helping CMS platforms accelerate their AI roadmap.
Over the last few months, I’ve spoken to numerous CMSes about their emerging AI strategies.
While not a CMS itself, TinyMCE is a key part of the content ecosystem. Despite being a new entrant to the AI game, its AI Assistant fits squarely with the company’s ambitious API-first strategy and its goal of powering CMS users with more advanced functionality.
“TinyMCE has focused on the content creation space for almost 20 years,” said Elise. “When you think about CMS users, it’s actually the rich text editor that they’re connecting with. We’re creating a seamless experience by bringing AI into a workflow they already know.”
According to Elise, there are currently over 350 million downloads of TinyMCE a year – and that includes a very broad spectrum of CMS, DAM, workflow collaboration, email tools, and more. While all of these applications co-exist in the DX stack, Elise noted that understanding the CMS user was fundamental to building the right kind of AI strategy.
“Content creators are ultimately using [TinyMCE], so what are the top things they’re creating? For a CMS, it was blogs and website copy – so whatever we delivered, we needed to make sure it worked great for those use cases.”
TinyMCE’s impressive footprint has certainly bolstered its market position. In March of this year, the company was purchased by Tiugo Technologies, a PSG portfolio company offering a family of innovative, API-first developer platforms – which includes ButterCMS.
While many technologies in a wide range of industries have rushed to market with AI solutions, some have been met with delays or even less-than-stellar outcomes. I asked Elise how Tiny has focused on quality while ensuring timely delivery to the market.
“We have a big emphasis on quality here, and we don’t release things to market unless we believe they are market-ready,” she affirmed. “AI Assistant has gone through robust QA processes, and it’s stable. We have a lot of users signed up, and we’re actively gathering feedback.”
Along with his mantle of product manager, Fredrik has also been the internal AI champion for TinyMCE’s new functionality. I asked him what fueled his interest – and why it mattered.
“We think this is a really important innovation in rich text editing,” he said. “It’s opened up so many opportunities in human-computer interaction and how we can use this technology for all sorts of things. It’s similar to when the iPhone came out, and we suddenly had the internet and computers in our pockets. AI is almost a must, and we have to be doing this.”
It’s true that AI has captured the zeitgeist of the moment, spurring CMS platforms to introduce AI features at a breakneck pace. But the hype cycle can be tenuous, and user experience can sometimes be a victim in the race to innovate.
Tiny aimed to avoid that trap by putting the user first. As Elise explained, the company had been exploring AI for over a year, and the decision to act only surfaced when customers started asking how to add it to their applications. Thoughtful research helped reveal where the TinyMCE’s capabilities could align with the promise of AI.
“When we went out to explore AI, we did the demand studies,” she punctuated. “What people are actually struggling with is how to interact with AI. That’s where our solution is much more advanced. We provide the pre-written prompts and the assistance. It’s not just about connecting with AI – it's about unlocking the power of AI and helping you to learn how to use it for content creation purposes, so you’re not on your own.”
Fredrik further codified this, describing TinyMCE’s ready-made prompts as a sort of “discovery feature” that helps inspire end users by giving them a starting point while providing convenient actions such as rewriting, fixing grammar, and creating alternative variants.
For CMS platforms using TinyMCE, the clear benefit is the easy, frictionless addition of AI to the text editing experience.
Designed as a core part of the content creation workflow – as opposed to a bolt-on component – the solution’s UI works out of the box without adding any extra AI development burdens. What’s more, it can be up and running in a couple of hours with just a few steps.
As Fredrik outlined, the AI Assistant is an extension of TinyMCE, so you simply activate it within the plugin and connect to OpenAI via your OpenAI API key. The AI Assistant provides a configurable, intuitive interface for OpenAI prompts, while your API key sends and receives prompts and responses from OpenAI.
When you’re ready for production, you can set up a server-side proxy for secure communication with OpenAI. And presto… you’re off to the races.
“The fantastic thing about TinyMCE and how we operate is that we provide APIs and actually allow you to customize the prompts if you want to put in the engineering effort,” said Elise. “You can customize it around your own use case.”
While other CMS platforms are home-growing their capabilities, TinyMCE is effectively shortcutting the complexity and laser-targeting AI at precisely the right places. Along with the essentials for improving grammar and writing, users can target the AI Assistant to summarize, explain, or simplify language with an easy-to-use picker. There's also the ability to generate content from custom prompts and insert it instantly into your post.
“We’re providing the UI and prompt engineering so you can quickly get started, instead of spending months trying to figure out how to do it yourself,” said Fredrik, summing up one of the core benefits. “With OpenAI and TinyMCE, it’s the speed.”
When it comes to new features, the million-dollar question is always the price.
According to Elise, the AI Assistant is an additional $29 per month – which is nominal, considering the advanced resources the company is dedicating to the technology. I asked how users are responding to this price point and the value position.
“Everyone that has signed up is accepting of the cost, and it’s appealing for both startups and enterprises,” she said. “Part of our research was to examine price and how we sustain engineering on such a revolutionary new feature set.”
Because TinyMCE’s AI Assistant requires you to create and connect your own OpenAI API key, platforms are also responsible for any direct costs from OpenAI associated with its usage.
One of the biggest challenges with tapping large language models like ChatGPT is data privacy. And rightly so: since its introduction, OpenAI has spurred multiple security concerns, including a data breach that exposed active user data to would-be hackers.
OpenAI has made great strides in firming up its protection. Additionally, CMS platforms that have introduced GPT connectors have gone to great lengths to wall off enterprise data from the GPT learning pipelines, so a company’s data doesn’t become part of the LLM’s general training lakes.
I asked Fredrik and Elise how TinyMCE was handling the data privacy concerns with its new AI, and how questions around content copyright might impact their strategy.
“This is a huge, huge question,” Fredrik said. “We’re talking about privacy and copyright on the internet. We deal with a lot of enterprises, so naturally, we get that question. In the vast majority of use cases, it’s about building trust with vendors [and letting them know] we take care of your data.”
Elise expanded on this, adding that TinyMCE is actively monitoring and looking at ways to create more secure and private solutions with ChatGPT.
In the quest to provide meaningful AI to more content creators, TinyMCE has certainly introduced a unique offering at the text editing layer – and done so in a familiar and accessible manner.
I asked Fredrik where he sees the greatest opportunity for TinyMCE’s AI to transform the content experience.
“This is completely new for us, and it’s fun,” he mused. “We’re innovating and exploring and starting fresh. As with all these things, there are no conventions right now. But it should be simple, intuitive, and designed for everyone – not just power users. I want everyone to be able to harness the power of our AI.”
While the new AI features are already GA, TinyMCE is just getting started. According to Elise, they plan to support more than just ChatGPT in the future and continue a healthy pace of innovation based on customer needs.
“As more people come on board, we want the feedback loops to make an even better, more robust product,” she said. “But right now, we’re very happy about this new feature.”
Being happy about your product? There’s nothing tiny about that.
You can experience that happiness yourself by adding the new AI Assistant to your existing TinyMCE account with an exclusive 14-day free trial.