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About the Author
Anand Narayanaswamy, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) is an independent writer, web developer and technical consultant based in Trivandrum, India. Anand runs learnXpress.com and specializes in ASP, ASP.NET, C#, Visual Basic .NET and Visual Basic 6.0 and in the development of courseware, technical articles, documentation, and reviews of products and books. He is available for writing documentations, help files, product reviews and for other development related projects. Reach him at email@example.com
|Many web applications use some sort of controls for collecting information from its users. Imagine you are developing an online portal through which your users can easily edit and publish articles containing rich text and images. If you are planning to make use of the TextBox control, you have to write thousands of lines of code to enable the functionality of Formatting, Linking, HTML conversion of the text etc. This is of course possible but it requires tremendous amount of work from your part. |
In these situations, you should try to use third party WYSIWYG editors like telerik’s r.a.d.editor. I found several very good components, but r.a.d.editor from telerik impressed me very much with what it offered and I felt compelled to share my findings with the rest of you. As with all products that are marketed as “leading” and “best” I was a little bit skeptical in the beginning and I had doubts whether the component would be as good as marketed.
From my point of view, r.a.d.editor version 3.0 is really a blessing in disguise for all developers. It enables you to easily incorporate the editing functionality on your web pages within seconds. Version 3.0 comes with a number of unique features like support for Netscape and Mozilla, multilingual spell-checker, dialog skinning, document uploader, image resampling, table editing, end-user quick help etc. The new editor can be quickly localized through XML and includes extensive mechanisms for enforcing roles and security. As the component seemed to cover my major requirements for a WYSIWYG editor that would be flexible and “user-friendly” without compromising the feature set, I decided to give it a spin.
Before getting started to work with this component, you have to create an account by visiting http://www.telerik.com/editortrial. The process of creating an account is fairly simple. You can then download the product either in a single ZIP or MSI file by keying in your Username and Password. I downloaded the product (2.73 MB) within 15 minutes with a broadband internet connection. The installation took around 3-5 minutes since I tested the product on Pentium IV machine with 512 MB RAM. After installation, you can directly launch the r.a.d.editor folder from the start menu.
r.a.d.editor comes with 20+ examples and they are good start to see what the control does and how you can use it in some common (real world) scenarios. Telerik have provided both C# and VB.NET examples, so that none of us feels unfortunate. The samples were a real convenience for me and as soon as I finished looking through them, I started a blank project to test the control.
I used Visual Studio .NET to test the product. If you are using the r.a.d.editor for the first time, you should add the two DLL files (RadEditor.DLL & RadSpell.dll) to your Visual Studio .NET Toolbox. You will find these files inside the bin folder of the installation directory. It is not necessary to add RadSpell.dll to your toolbox. This file contains all the added functionalities for performing spell checking. If you would like to enable spell checking for your ASP.NET application, go ahead and add it to your toolbox.
In order to work with the editor, you should double click the component named RadEditor from the Visual Studio .NET toolbox. You don’t have to worry about the coding as everything will be done automatically in the background. Running the application at this stage will not produce any results as you have to copy a folder named RadControls to the root folder of your web-application. This folder contains all the essential images and other tidbits to make the control work. That’s all there is to it. If all the steps outlined above worked well, you should see a pencil shaped icon. Clicking this icon activates the editor.
I closed my eyes for a while after viewing the interface of the editor since it is really amazing to see a whole lot of functionality built into a very compact space. The interface shows tool tips which will explain you the purpose of each Toolbar icons. I found that the WYSIWYG Fonts dropdown of r.a.d.editor v3.0 only displays a predefined set of fonts, which are: Arial, Comic Sans MS, Courier New, Tahoma, Times New Roman and Verdana. But you can easily modify this default set or add a new font (as long as it is available on the client machine), using the AddFont method. For more information, refer to the documentation which comes with the editor. The product supports whole lot of colors and also HTML coding. You can enter HTML tags after checking the check box with the caption HTML Mode on the bottom of the editor. You can virtually set any type of hyperlinks from the built-in Hyperlink Manager.
It is very easy to implement spell checking with r.a.d.editor 3.0. You will find a small icon with the label ABC and a check mark on the top left of the toolbar. If you click the icon you will get a message box captioned “Spell Check Not Available”. This means you have to do little work to activate the spell checking functionality. The product ships with a separate component called RadSpell.DLL for enabling the spell checker. Double click the component from the Visual Studio .NET Toolbox and assign the ControlToCheck property to the ID value of the r.a.d.editor. By default it will be RadSpell1. That’s it. Run the project, enter a wrong word and click on the icon.
You can quickly insert tables by selecting Insert Table Toolbar option. I found Table Wizard hidden inside the above item. You can also decorate your text with Bullets, Numberings, Superscripts and Subscripts. One of the unique features of r.a.d.editor v3.0 is that it can save content directly in the control file. This will be very useful for static web sites which don’t require a database. Also you can easily integrate r.a.d.editor directly in a DataGrid. I am currently working to send the contents of the editor directly to an e-mail address.
Even though it might not be evident at a first glance, it was very nice to find that r.a.d.editor offers lot of flexibility for the developers – you can easily enforce editing privileges for different types of users, have different toolbars for different users, control permissions for resource (images, flash, media, docs) folders and localize the control easily (comes with language schemes for 5 languages)
The product comes with an excellent documentation in HTML Help format. It welcomes you with a cute animation and it provides a detailed explanation about both the general working of the editor and also other aspects regarding the product. It also comes with a ready reference of all the properties and methods. The product ships with lot of live projects along with the relevant source codes. You can directly access these live demos from the start menu after the installation of the product. Alternatively, these demos can also be accessed from http://www.telerik.com/editordemo
From my point of view, r.a.d.editor version 3.0 is highly valuable component for all developers. It enables you to easily incorporate content editing functionality on your web pages and has to offer much more than might be evident at a first glance. I found it very useful and it significantly reduces the development time of the projects.