WYSIWYG stands for "what you see is what you get," and it's been a computer term since it made the jump from TV catchphrase in the 1970s. A WYSIWYG editor lets you edit e-books in something as close as possible to their final form, which greatly improves not only editing accuracy but also the appearance and presentation of the text. It's critical for readability in both traditional and electronic publishing formats. We looked at Sigil, a free, open-source, multiplatform e-book editor that is designed to edit ePub documents such as e-books. Sigil offers full Unicode support and full EPUB specification support. An extensive users' manual and blog provide help and tips.
Sigil's installer let us associate the program with EPUB, TXT, and HTML files. The program's user interface is nicely designed and rendered, with attractive and colorful icons on a browserlike toolbar that offers a nice break from the hieroglyphics of typical editing toolbars.
The main view is divided vertically between three resizable panels: a Book Browser on the left, a tabbed document view in the middle, and a Table of Contents panel on the right -- a logical layout that we could augment with an optional Validation Results panel along the window's bottom edge. But we could also drag views out of Sigil's interface and place them independently, as well as rearrange the program's panels simply by dragging and dropping them into place.
We were able to start typing right away in the blank XHTML document in Sigil's main Book View. The toolbar handles formatting and also offers Undo and Redo. The Book Browser's tree view showed not only our document in the Text folder but also other folders such as for Styles, Images, and Fonts. The Chapter Break and Insert Image tools save time while typing.
Sigil's many extras include the Cleaning with HTML Tidy, Check for Well-Formed Errors, and Validate ePub tools as well as the Split View, which splits the main window horizontally, displaying a file's Book View above and its Code View below. With Sigil, what you get is what you need.