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A more powerful TEXTAREA

This is an obvious offshoot of a preceding message by someone else about rich text controls on web pages. It reminded me of something that I've pondered for years: Why are we still using the notepad style TEXTAREA control in browsers so many years after its invention? Would it be too much to ask for such rudimentary features as a spelling and grammar-checking (perhaps with Word style underlining, which truly is a great feature)? How about letting each site embed some extensions to HTML to indicate allowed formatting extensions (such as bold, italics, etc), from which the TEXTAREA is properly WYSIWYG?

Perhaps someone is aware of some plug-ins or extended ways of doing this, but as a longtime user of many online boards I've seen nothing satisfactory (and it isn't satisfactory loading Word just to compose such an entry, nor would a Windows-only ActiveX control be accepted in most locations).

IE team -- add powerful TEXTAREA rendering in IE 7 and maybe I'll switch back. I'm sure that is motivation enough! (:-))

Dennis Forbes
Sunday, January 18, 2004

I haven't used this : http://www.editize.com/

They label it as, " At Last, A TextArea Replacement for Content Management Systems"

It's a java applet that runs in the browser. It's been out for a while (it's on version 2).

Michael Sica (michaelsica.com)
Sunday, January 18, 2004

You know, there's a solution to the dearth of spell-checking in applications.

Learn to spell.

It's a personal thing, I guess - I never use spell-checkers; in fact, I generally turn them off because I find them annoying (spend the first week on any new install teaching the dictionary a thousand proprietary words? No thanks). My solution for typos is proofreading.

However, I'll concur that I'd like to see a standard rich text editing control in the HTML spec. Bold, underlining, italics, hr's, bulleted lists, and tables immediately come to mind. Font control (color, face, size) would be nice, too.

All it has to do is provide the toolbar and emit well-formed HTML; it's really not that big a deal to set up. In fact, there are rich text boxes available now that do their thing with javascript. Of course the problem is that you're shuttling 10's of kb of js back and forth with every page post, instead of it being a standard tag like

<richtextarea basefont='Arial' maxlength='250'>
<!-- many optional attributes omitted -->
</richtextarea>

Hm - how do you submit requests to the W3C?

Philo

Philo
Sunday, January 18, 2004

http://www.interactivetools.com/products/htmlarea/

I used this for a while. My users loved it...except for the ones running Linux or older Mac OSes.

j b
Sunday, January 18, 2004

Try Edit Ace. You can get it from www.web-sn.com

This guy doesn't seem very prolific but the stuff he has done is really good.

Justin
Sunday, January 18, 2004

>I used this for a while. My users loved it...except for the ones running Linux or older Mac OSes.

well, HTMLArea 3 works on all platforms with Mozilla

gunga
Sunday, January 18, 2004

Second the vote for HTMLArea.  I've used it for some inhouse content systems and love it.  It's close enough to Word that most people get it intuitively.

The latest version has spellchecking although it's a little hard to install that particular feature on Windows.

Lee
Sunday, January 18, 2004

3rd vote for htmlarea


Sunday, January 18, 2004

You guys missed the point - Dennis wasn't asking for a 3rd party component; he's asking for a new HTML tag that indicates the *browser* should provide rich text functionality, and I agree with him.

Why send toolbars, formatting code, etc over the wire a bajillion times when it should simply be in the browser to start with?

Philo

Philo
Sunday, January 18, 2004

Maybe you missed the entire 2nd paragraph of his message?

"Perhaps someone is aware of some plug-ins ...

IE team -- add powerful TEXTAREA ..."


Sunday, January 18, 2004

Oops.

Okay, then it's MY point - it belongs in the browser. :)

Philo

Philo
Sunday, January 18, 2004

Really I made both points, so you're all right. :-)  On the one hand it's surprizing how anemic the TEXTAREA control is in even the most recent browsers, while on the other hand it's surprizing (given the overwhelming frequency web text input) that there aren't site specific ways of extending basic text, such as specifying specific formatting allowed for a particular input. This is such a critical element of the web now, and probably is the most dynamic area, that it's just surprizing that there's been so little innovation. It seems like a "killer application" addition to a browser.

Regarding your comment that one simply needs to "learn to spell", Philo: touche. The reality, of course, is that spelling is a common protocol that came about through shared use. The problem, nowadays, is that rampant mispellings invariably confuse your own spelling. i.e. If a lot of your reading is "amateur", such as these boards, blogs, etc, where there isn't the dedication to proper grammar and spelling, one's personal spelling declines.

In other words, my quest for common spell-checking TEXTAREAs is as much to maintain my `spelling sanity' by the improvement of the spelling of others. Perhaps such a desire is "rediculous".

Dennis Forbes
Sunday, January 18, 2004

touché ;-)

ALT + 0233

FredF
Sunday, January 18, 2004

re: HTMLArea.
I don't know exactly what the issue was. But I do know that I was using HTMLArea 3.0, and it wasn't working working for users on corner-case platforms (this was on a drupal installation).
I was never able to isolate what the specific cause was (users who had problems weren't very communicative: they just went away and never came back).
The funny thing was, in the two weeks or whatever that I had it turned on, my users completely forgot how to make html links. Instructional text had to be added right above the comment/new story box telling them how to do an href.

j b
Sunday, January 18, 2004

OmniWeb on OS X does some of this -- spellchecking and a little button by the vertical scroller that lets you open and edit the contents of the text box in a normal, resizable window.

Still, yeah, every time we make an advance, we forget everything else we learned.

H. Lally Singh
Sunday, January 18, 2004

Actually, spell-checkers harm the ability to spell. Using a spell-checker is such an automatic affair that I don't think the proper spelling actually makes the short-term/long-term jump.

Ashamedly, I thought my 12 year old daughter's spelling was a lot better than it was because she was typing everything. When she had to hand-write an essay I was shocked. I immediately implemented the "all written work will be written by hand, proofread by a parent, THEN typed" edict. In the six months since she's been doing that, her spelling has improved immensely.

Philo

Philo
Sunday, January 18, 2004

I played around a bit with Javascript and CSS and I came to the conclusion that it is quite possible to make a rich text editor with what is available already.
Since you can intercept keystrokes and have selected text returned to the script, you can basicly make a textarea out of a div block. And since the div can contain HTML, a stylesheet and some regexps will get you the rest of the way.

I havent yet managed to make a blinking cursor though, the timercode doesnt play nice with the event catching thingy. But hey, Just tossing in an animated gif with its height set to the line height of the font might work.. ill try it tomorrow.

Javascript is kinda fun.. untill you try to make it work in more than one browser.

Eric DeBois
Sunday, January 18, 2004

Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but HTMLArea is created with javascript, so no plugins and runs out of the box.  I agree though, Philo's <RICH TEXT> tag would be cool.

Lee
Sunday, January 18, 2004

H. Lally Singh,
Actually, OS X has a native control which does word-style spell checking (among other things).

Rhys Keepence
Sunday, January 18, 2004

"Javascript is kinda fun.. untill you try to make it work in more than one browser. "

Or until you try to make it work in a browser with Javascript disabled.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Monday, January 19, 2004

Nobody should be using rich text. Ever. They should start using stuctured text. Putting some structure in it might even improve the content

Stephan Eggermont
Sunday, January 25, 2004

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