by: Kristin Walker, Product Development Coordinator
When the Atto editor was introduced in Moodle 2.7, it promised to address accessibility needs in ways the popular TinyMCE editor did not. Atto editor simplified text styling by removing options such as unlimited font colors and background colors that cause accessibility problems. A screen reader test that allows users to see how screen reader software would read through the content was included. And improvements to the image and table options made sure content added through the editor would be accessible to all users.
Despite these important improvements, many users were hesitant to switch to Atto from TinyMCE. Many of the most commonly used editor features were missing in the new Atto editor. This is where the open-source community stepped in. Since the debut of the Atto editor, a variety of additional plugins have been released that bring back the functionality of the TinyMCE editor while keeping accessibility in mind. With the added improvements from the Atto editor and these additional plugins, you can have the best of both worlds.
Here are our top five favorite Atto Editor add-ons:
More Font Colours
For those of you that love to add a little bit of color to your text, the More Font Colours plugin is definitely for you. It replaces the default font colors plugin in Atto, which only offers basic color selections. The most important feature of this plugin is that it allows Administrators to set the color options available for users, although it is recommended that Administrators only add color selections that meet accessibility guidelines for color contrast. Color options can be included that match the theme or branding.
(That means no more hot pink text on a green and gold theme. Don’t laugh. We’ve all seen it!)
If standard header styles are not enough, the Font Size plugin allows you to easily set the size of the font for readers. While the header styles are recommended for accessibility reasons, the formatting for them may still need to be increased or decreased. Many users of TinyMCE were dismayed to see this missing from Atto editor but never fear, with this plugin you can once again set your text to XXX-Large to grab their attention
Remember, for accessibility reasons Font color and Font Size should not be used to add emphasis to text without using header styles since screen readers do not detect color or font size. For a quick primer on an accessible font, refer to these guidelines.
Microsoft Word File Import
At one time or another, most of us have tried to copy and paste from a Word document to the editor in Moodle and ended up with strange formatting that takes almost as long to clean up as it would have to just type it in the first place. With the Microsoft Word File Import plugin, you can simply drag your .docx file into the editor window and it will import the entire document cleanly. It even includes equations from the Microsoft Equation Editor.
If you’re like most Moodle/Totara users, you are probably using filters on your site. It can be difficult to visualize how the content will display once you’ve finished editing. The Toggle Preview is a great add-on for the Atto editor that allows you to quickly preview your content with the filters applied. So, for example, if you’re using Remote Learner’s Personalization Filter, you can see how awesome it will look for your users once you finish editing.
While there are a lot of add-ons that are helpful for Instructors, the Word Count plugin is one that is important for learners. Assignments often include a minimum or maximum word requirements that are difficult to track without using an outside word processing program. This add-on gives a quick check on the number of words entered so that learners have an idea of how close they are to the assignment requirements.
Atto editor may have seemed like a big change when it was originally released. With these additional plugins, you can easily make the switch to Atto editor and keep all the editor features you love. Please check these out and feel free to contact your Account Manager for more information on any plugins you may be interested in.