The State of
Collaborative Editing

In our first ever State of Collaborative Rich Text Editing survey, we heard from more than 1,000 tech professionals, working with a wide range of rich text editors.

Plus, our survey includes 600 power users looking for even more advanced features.

People told us about their current needs, future plans, preferred platforms – and of course, the importance of collaboration.


Survey Report


Rich text editors (RTEs) are one of the most common software components we interact with. From writing an email to updating a blog post, rich text editors are the backbone of digital communication and content creation. And they’re just as important in the workplace as they are in almost every application and platform.

Yet, for the most part, the humble rich text editor hasn’t adapted to the biggest shift in the way we work, since the advent of the PC. Both remote work and distributed teams are now commonplace, and there’s no sign that traditional, face-to-face work will ever fully return. We’ve embraced asynchronous communication, video meetings and collaborating in Google Docs. But most rich text editors are stuck in an earlier time where one user-at-a-time was the norm.

While new collaboration-focused apps seem to appear practically every day, the RTEs that underpin them haven’t kept up. Something’s got to give. That’s what this survey is all about – taking the temperature of the rich text editor world to find out how developers see the future of collaborative rich text editing.

The good news is that developers are keenly aware of what’s missing from their rich text editors. Not only are they hearing it from users, their own experience tells them clearly which way the wind is blowing. The results of this survey are both descriptive and predictive. We’ve learned how many developers are working on adding collaboration features to their projects in the near future, how important AI is to rich text editors, people’s preferred development platforms and languages, and much more.

1.1 Key Insights


Collaboration is a must-have feature for mainstream rich text editors, with 60% of people saying collaboration is extremely or very important. Nearly two-thirds of people are aiming to introduce collaborative features by the end of the year, including key functionality like real-time collaboration, track changes, revision history, and user management.


Along with collaboration, AI is set to shape the future of rich text editors. Across the tech industry, AI has been a major conversation topic since the debut of ChatGPT, and rich text editors are no exception. Many people predict AI will come to influence all areas of rich text editing, including driving major features such as spell check and content creation, within the next two years.


Power users are looking for customization and features beyond AI. A full 60% of those who rate collaboration as highly important are likely seasoned rich text editor pros, with different priorities from the mainstream. They look beyond the AI buzz to less glamorous, but more advanced features. Apart from collaboration, these power users prioritize deep customization, integration with other frameworks, and embedding complex content types.


Rich text editors are absolutely crucial to developers’ applications, with 77% of people emphasizing the importance of their chosen rich text editor for their product. Considering professionals spend over 40 hours a week working on their projects, most become intimately familiar with their rich text editor.

Collaboration rules the future

The future of rich text editing is collaborative. The rise of collaborative editing – think features like mentions, comments, document history and simultaneous writing – has been a major trend in word processors ever since the launch of Google Docs. With so many popular services and apps now offering collaboration as standard, rich text editors have to up their game.

The survey shows that developers are well aware of what consumers have come to expect from a rich text editor. Developers know collaboration is important and most are already aiming to add a Google Docs-style editing experience to their apps in the near future. But collaboration isn’t the only big change on the horizon. The future of rich text editors looks set to be transformative for developers and creators alike.

2.1 How important is collaboration in your app?

A significant majority (60%) of developers working with rich text editors believe collaboration features are highly important to their app. Across subsequent questions, this group emerged as power users – seasoned pros with different priorities and feature needs from mainstream developers. This finding underscores the growing need for rich text editing platforms that prioritize collaborative work. In fact, less than 10% of people see these features as unimportant, showing the tremendous value now placed on tools that enable effective collaboration.

This trend reflects the changing nature of our workplaces, especially as remote work and decentralized teams become more common. As we look to the future of work, it's clear that collaboration tools will play an increasingly vital role, and rich text editors that prioritize these features will be the ones that thrive.

Importance of collaboration

2.2 How interested are your users in collaborative editing?

It’s not only developers who consider collaboration features essential to their apps. With remote work and hybrid teams commonplace nowadays, more than half of the developers surveyed (52%) have seen serious interest from their users in collaborative tools and features.

This goes to show that the importance of collaboration extends beyond the technical realm. It's clear that consumers are actively seeking out rich text editor solutions that prioritize collaboration. This presents a tremendous opportunity for rich text editors to deliver innovative solutions that empower collaboration in new and exciting ways. Rich text editors that stay attuned to the needs of users and double down on collaborative features should win a lot of fans in the coming years.

User interest in collaboration

2.3 When do you expect to integrate collaboration into your rich text editor?

A significant majority of respondents see collaboration features as an important addition in the near future. In fact, almost two-thirds of people either have or are planning to implement collaborative capabilities within the next 12 months.

The trend is even more striking amongst our power users – those who rate collaboration features as extremely or very important. An impressive 82% of power users either have or are planning to build collaboration features in the next 12 months. Plus, one-third of these power users aim to have new collaboration features added within the next 6 months.

Timeline to add collaboration

2.4 How important are each of the following features?

When it comes to key features, performance, security, and privacy protections were noted as essential fundamentals. Additionally, advanced features like customizability and HTML tweaking were highly important, showing that greater control over the editor and user experience is always appreciated. Professionals also prioritize an easy-to-use interface with minimal learning curve, facilitating a seamless workflow for end-users.

Importance of features


of power
users prioritize

It’s worth noting that while these features are important to all users, the 60% who rate collaboration as important are also looking for more advanced functionality.

This shows a clear split between these power users on one hand and the roughly 40% who prioritize ease and a familiar editing experience. These power users are important to keep an eye on, as they comprise over half of the market and have higher expectations and greater needs of their rich text editor.

2.5 Which collaboration features are critical for you in the next five years?

Real-time collaborative editing tops the chart here, but nearly a third of people see other collaboration features as critical, too, indicating there’s no single rockstar feature when it comes to collaboration.

This suggests a mix of different complementary features is what most people are looking for.

Collaboration priorities


User management is the second most important feature for power users

For the power users who see collaboration in general as a top priority, real-time collaborative editing and user management are the most important features, while all the other collaboration features get a boost, too.

2.6 What big underlying changes or game changing features do you see on the horizon for rich text editors?

This was an open-ended question for people to share their thoughts on the future of rich text editors. While no one knows for sure where technology is headed, it gives us valuable insights into emerging trends and shifting needs.

By far the most commonly mentioned paradigm shift for rich text editors was AI integration. Most people see AI as the major significant change coming to the industry. As in all areas of technology, the launch of ChatGPT (just 6 months before this survey began) dominated the conversation. People mentioned using AI to create content inside a rich text editor, to enhance features like spelling and grammar check, or to add natural language commands.

In addition to AI integration, other key themes were collaboration, integration, and automation.

“AI assisted content writing and layout design, real time editing and collaboration without having to manage a lot of infrastructure, live editing the content directly on the frontend.”“AI-assisted writing and suggestions.”“Text generation and summarization capabilities.”“AI support for content creation and analysis.”
“Ability to integrate dynamic data. For example, there should be an option to connect to a database or API and data can be fetched from there.”“Seamless, nearly invisible, integration into other frameworks.”“Ability to seamlessly embed multimedia elements such as images and videos within the text.”“Integration with CRM and marketing automation tools for enhanced customer communication.”
“Automation, simplified voice input, automatic formatting.”“AI technology can help users complete editing tasks faster, such as auto-suggestion, predictive input, and automatic layout.”“I think rich text editors are about to get faster and I'd like to see code automation in the future.”“Use of generative adversarial networks (GANs) for automated content creation.”
“AI integration, transcription, and voice editing and dictation.”“It's clear that voice-to-text is becoming the way we communicate with our computers…it needs to be integrated into all kinds of applications, including rich text editors.”“The integration of voice-activated features, allowing users to dictate text rather than type.”“Integration with voice assistants for hands-free editing and dictation.”
“The increasing need for collaborative work and remote collaboration may lead to enhanced real-time editing capabilities in rich text editors. Features like simultaneous editing, live commenting, and real-time collaboration tools.”“Real time editing and collaboration without having to manage a lot of infrastructure Live editing the content directly on the frontend.”“Easier use of @mentions and full document support that aligns with Google Docs.”“I think it should allow access to the cloud and should allow working with different team members seamlessly.”

Tools, teams and timelines

So, if collaboration-first experiences are the future, when and where can we expect to see them? Who’s working on them and how? Rich text editors are so varied and so ubiquitous, we wanted to get a sense of what’s going on behind the scenes. Here’s what we learned about the industries, teams, integrations, and preferred programming languages that people are working with.

3.1 How big is your team?

Aligning with prevailing industry norms, almost 60% of people are active members of scrum teams ranging from 2 to 10 people.

Interestingly, close to 25% belong to larger teams, some of which run to over 16 members. If these mega teams have higher budgets, they might just be a lucrative niche for rich text editor brands to appeal to.

The results also show a significant minority of people aren’t working in development teams at all.

This shift might reflect the broader trend towards solo entrepreneurship, gig economy opportunities, and self-employment, which gained momentum during the pandemic.

Team size

3.2 What kind of development work do you do?

The two most common types of development work, web development (32%) and commercial SaaS product development (27%), make up more than half the responses.

But internal software also accounts for 14% of people’s development work, reminding us of the versatility of rich text editors.

Development work

3.3 Which industry do you work in?

Unsurprisingly, given that it’s the most common type of development work people do, web development is also the most common industry to work in (16%), followed by developer tooling (11%).

But the broad range of responses here shows just how diverse the use cases for rich text editors are.




3.4 What’s the programming language you use the most?

It’s important to know which programming languages are most common amongst rich text editor users, to get an idea of their expectations for compatibility. PHP and Javascript are the heaviest hitters here, accounting for about a third of total responses. But stalwarts like C++ C# and Java are still popular, too – and we’re betting TypeScript will only get more popular as time goes on. It’s also worth noting that ColdFusion is a Java-based platform from Adobe, meaning Java is more popular than it may seem.

Programming languages


of people use
PHP most often

3.5 What front-end technologies do you use?

As with programming languages, it’s important to know which front-end frameworks are being used the most, so you know which technologies people will expect your RTE to integrate with.

Given the ubiquity of HTML/CSS/JS, Bootstrap, and JQuery, it's easy to assume that certain front-end frameworks reign supreme.

Those three major frameworks certainly have their place, but our survey shows that a wide variety of technologies are being used.

While the most popular frameworks are becoming standard, developers are taking a thoughtful and inclusive approach, working with a diverse range of tools to meet their needs.

Front-end technologies

3.6 How important is rich text editing to your project?

When it comes to feature priorities, 77% of people say rich text editing is a must-have. In fact, almost no one thinks this feature is not important.

What this shows is a strong need for rich text editor products that can be easily customized and adapted to a project’s needs. In other words, don’t rest on your laurels – if your rich text editor doesn’t give a user the features they need, it's likely a different editor will.

Developers can’t afford to be complacent with a component as crucial as a rich text editor.

Importance of rich text editing

3.7 Which rich text editor do you usually use?

As with programming languages, it’s important to know which front-end frameworks are being used the most, so you know which technologies people will expect your RTE to integrate with.

Given the ubiquity of HTML/CSS/JS, Bootstrap, and JQuery, it's easy to assume that certain front-end frameworks reign supreme.

Those three major frameworks certainly have their place, but our survey shows that a wide variety of technologies are being used.

While the most popular frameworks are becoming standard, developers are taking a thoughtful and inclusive approach, working with a diverse range of tools to meet their needs.

Preferred editor

3.8 Thinking of switching rich text editors in the next two years?

In news that should cause all rich text editors to sit up and take notice, a full 50% of people are considering changing their rich text editor in the near future, with a further 21% undecided. Two years is a long time in technology, but these are still sobering numbers.

Considering how many people are looking for new features like collaborative editing (see the previous section), perhaps it’s not so surprising after all. Not only that, given how important rich text editors are to the projects they’re a part of, it makes sense that power users would always be on the lookout for better options. In other words, don’t take even your most prolific users for granted. People rely on rich text editors, but they will switch platforms if their needs aren’t being met.

Plans to switch editors

3.9 How do you like to deploy your rich text editor?

Often a sticking point when it comes to integration, on-premise and cloud deployment options are crucial for catering to enterprises and SaaS businesses. Self-hosted and cloud-based are almost equally popular, with 16% of people favoring a hybrid deployment option. It’s a reminder that a rich text editor with more flexible deployment options is likely to be more popular.

Editor deployment

Developers are linchpins

When you run a public survey like this one, it’s important to know who’s responding. Of course, we didn’t need data to tell us how crucial developers are to rich text editors. As builders, power users, and integrators of rich text editors, developers are the ones who drive adoption and shape new features. But the results also show that collaborative rich text editors are starting to break the mold, becoming key tools for people inside and outside the tech industry.

4.1 So, what do you do?

We knew rich text editor users were tech savvy, and the numbers prove it. With a quarter of people working as full-stack developers and another quarter working in front- or back-end development, developers are the main group working with rich text editors. But what’s especially interesting is the range of roles on display – from product managers and marketers to executives and academics, it’s clear rich text editors have become important tools to people from all walks of life.

Job title

4.2 What is your gender?

Unsurprisingly for the tech industry, responses to this question were mostly male.

But this is our first year doing the survey, so we’re hoping to see that change as more women and those with more diverse gender identities enter the tech space.

Gender identification

4.3 Have you been doing this for long?

It’s important to know whether most people working with rich text editors are veteran developers or new to the game. And broadly, we found people ended up in one of two groups: fresh faces with less than five years of experience (40%), and seasoned professionals with six or more years of experience (60%).

This split highlights just how central rich text editors are these days, catering to an audience that’s almost evenly divided between newcomers and power users. For anyone building a rich text editor, the implications are clear – make sure that while you’re adding new features for long-standing users, you’re also making the learning curve smoother for newer users. Adding complexity with only power users in mind could cut out half your potential audience.


4.4 Why are you using a rich text editor?

It’s no surprise that the vast majority of people are using rich text editors for work purposes. Rich text editors are a core feature of so many productivity apps and services that we all use every day.

More interesting is the 15% of people who are working with a rich text editor for a personal project. No doubt some of these projects may develop into businesses at some point, but it’s a reminder that rich text editors can be just as crucial outside of the workplace.

Personal or work use

4.5 How often do you work with a rich text editor?

A rich text editor isn’t a set-and-forget proposition for most of our respondents. Those who actively manage, update or develop rich text editors at least once a month made up 50% of the results. Such hands-on and regular engagement most likely means these people are fully proficient in their working with their preferred rich text editor. On the other hand, for anyone building a rich text editor, it’s a reminder that your software will be used regularly and extensively, so be sure to fix bugs and pain points as quickly as you can.

Frequency of using an editor

4.6 How big is your workplace?

Startups and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) dominated the survey, with just over 80% of people working in companies with 500 employees or less.

And the majority of those were companies of 100 people or less.

With SMEs far outnumbering larger firms across the world, it’s not surprising, but it is a reminder of how important the right technology can be to a smaller company.

Company size

4.7 What’s your use case?

As our survey responses show, you can do just about anything with a rich text editor. Content management systems may be the most common use case (33%), but the range of responses to this question is truly impressive. There’s CRMs, customer service, DMS, and LMS, alongside less obvious areas including VR and gaming. AI came in at third place on the list (21%), which shows how popular it’s become since the launch of ChatGPT back in November 2022. Collaboration was the sixth most popular use case (16%), and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it climb higher in the future.

Use case

The State of Collaborative Editing report was commissioned by CKSource.

CKSource is the creator of CKEditor, the leading enterprise-grade WYSIWYG framework that’s purpose-built for collaboration. CKEditor provides complete customization and control for development teams. Build almost anything imaginable using its 1000+ APIs, modern composable architecture, and ultra-modern features.

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