At the time of this writing, the Editor and its plug-in architecture were undergoing some significant enhancements. Thus, you may find that this section is slightly more general with respect to technical details than many other sections of the book.

An increasing number applications are utilizing rich text editing capability; in fact, it's probably fair to say that if you have a slick RIA interface and then hand it to the user with an ordinary textarea element (even a Textarea dijit), it'll probably stick out like a sore thumb. Fortunately, the Editor dijit contains all of the common rich text editing functionality, with absolutely minimal overhead on your part.


You may find this reference interesting as you read the rest of this section: http://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/Rich-Text_Editing_in_Mozilla.

Dojo builds upon native browser controls that enable content to be editable. As a little history lesson, Internet Explorer 4.0 introduced the concept of design mode, in which it became possible to edit text in a manner consistent with simple rich text editors, and Mozilla 1.3 followed suit to implement what's essentially the same API that eventually became formalized as the Midas Specification (http://www.mozilla.org/editor/midas-spec.html). Other browsers have generally followed in the same direction—with their own minor nuances. In any event, most of the heavy lifting occurs by first explicitly making a document editable and then using the JavaScript execCommand function to do the actual markup. Following the Midas Specification, something along the lines of the following would do the trick:

// Make a node editable...perhaps a div with a set height and width

/* Select some text... */

// Set the selection to italic. No additional arguments are needed.
editableDocument.execCommand("Italic", false, null);

As you might imagine, you can use an arsenal of commands for manipulating content via execCommand, standardize the differences amongst browser implementation, assemble a handy toolbar, provide some nice styling, and wrap it up as a portable widget. In fact, that's exactly what Dijit's Editor does for you. Although Editor provides a slew of features that seem overwhelming at a first glance, the basic usage is quite simple. Example 15-12 illustrates an out of the box Editor from markup along with some light styling and a couple of buttons that interact with it.


Without any styling at all, the Editor has no border, spans the width of its container, and comes at a default height of 300px. The light styling here simply provides a background and adjusts the Editor 's height to slightly smaller than its container so that the content won't run out of the visible background and into the buttons.

Example 15-12. Typical Editor usage

<div style="margin:5px;background:#eee; height: 400px; width:525px">
    <div id="editor" height="375px" dojoType="dijit.Editor">
        When shall we three meet again?<br>
        In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
<button dojoType="dijit.form.Button">Save
    <script type="dojo/method" event="onClick" args="evt">
        /* Save the value any old way you'd like */
        console.log(dijit.byId("editor").getValue(  ));
<button dojoType="dijit.form.Button">Clear
    <script type="dojo/method" event="onClick" args="evt">

It's well worth a moment of your time to interact with the Editor and see for yourself that getting all of that functionality with such minimal effort really isn't too good to be true. Note that the Editor renders plain HTML, so saving and restoring content should not involve any unnecessary translation. Then, when you're ready to take a look at some of the many things that the Editor can do for you, skim over the feature list in Table 15-14.


The Editor API is by far the most complex in Dijit, and at the time of this writing, refactoring efforts to tame it were being seriously entertained. Thus, the following table contains a small subset of the most useful parts of the API. See the source file documentation for the complete listing if you really want to hack on the Editor.

Table 15-14. Small subset of the Editor API






Whether to focus into the Editor when the page loads.



The initial height of the Editor. 300px by default.



If true, inherits the parent node's width; otherwise, spans the entire width. false by default.



The minimum allowable height for the Editor. 1em by default.



If provided, the content is saved and restored when the user leaves the page and returns.



The plugins that should be be loaded as a baseline for the editor. By default, common values like bold, italic, underline, and so on are included.



Additional plugins that should be loaded on top of the baseline defined by plugins.

getValue ( )


Returns the value from the Editor.



Sets the value of the Editor.

undo( )


Undoes the previous action.



Connects to this event to perform a custom action each time the display changes.

close( )


Closes the Editor and serialize back out the content to it node of origin.



Functions that may be optionally applied to text content as it is deserialized before it is transformed into a DOM tree.



Functions that may optionally be applied to the DOM tree as it is deserialized before it is loaded for editing.



Functions that may optionally be applied to the DOM tree before it is serialized.



Functions that may be optionally applied to the text content before it is serialized.



Executes a command in the rich text area. Behaves like the standard JavaScript execCommand but accounts for deviations amongst various browser implementations.

Editor Architecture

The Editor 's lifecycle supports three basic phases, shown in Figure 15-6. The following list summarizes these phases and the work involved in each:

Deserializing content

The loading phase entails loading a text stream supplied by a DOM node, converting it into a DOM tree, and placing it into the display for user interaction. Sequences of JavaScript functions may be applied to both the text stream as well as the DOM tree in order, as needed, in order to filter and convert content. Common examples of filters might entail such tasks as converting linebreaks from a plain text document into <br> tags so that the content displays as proper HTML in the editor.

Interacting with content

The interaction phase is just like any other rich text editing experience. Common operations such as markup may occur, and an undo stack is stored based on either a time interval or on the basis of every time the display changes.

Serializing content

When editing ends by way of the Editor 's close method, the contents are serialized from a DOM tree back into a text stream, which then gets written back into the node of origin. From there, an event handler might send it back to a server to persist it. Like the deserializing phase, sequences of JavaScript functions may optionally be applied to manipulate the content.

The basic phases that the Editor's architecture supports

Figure 15-6. The basic phases that the Editor's architecture supports

Editor Plug-Ins

Although the Editor provides an onslaught of highly useful features of its own, sooner or later you'll be wishing that it were possible to tightly integrate some piece of custom functionality. Its plug-in architecture is your ticket to making that happen. A plug-in is just a way of encapsulating some additional functionality that, while useful, maybe shouldn't be a stock component; it could be anything from handling some special key combinations to providing a custom menu item with some canned commands that automate part of a workflow.

Snapping a plug-in into Editor is quite simple, and you may not have realized it, but everything in the toolbar you thought was built right in is technically a plug-in with one of the following self-descriptive values.























You can configure plug-ins by providing either the plugins or extraPlugins attribute and give it a list of valid plug-ins that you have first dojo.require d into the page. By default, plugins contains all of the items in the toolbar that you see by default, and if you override it and provide something like plugins="['bold','italic']", then all you'd see in the toolbar is the list of plugins you provided. However, the extraPlugins attribute adds extra plugins on top of what is already configured in plugins if you want to throw in a few extras.

Several packages of prefabricated plug-ins are available with the toolkit and are commonly used as values to extraPlugins ; they are located in the dijit/_editor/plugins directory and include the following:


Shifts the contents of the toolbar, as needed, so that multiple rows of controls are displayed, and it always remains visible. (If you resize the window to be less than the width of the toolbar, the default action is to display a horizontal scrollbar and only display the portion of the toolbar that would normally be visible.) You must pass in dijit._editor.plugins.AlwaysShowToolbar to plugins or extraPlugins to enable this plug-in.


Provides a means of uniformly handling what happens when the Enter key is pressed amongst all browsers. For example, you can specify whether to insert a series of paragraph tags to surround the new text, a break tag, a set of DIVS tags, or not to disable the handling of the Enter key entirely. You must pass in dijit._editor.plugins.EnterKeyHandling to plugins or extraPlugins to enable this plug-in.


The Editor 's plug-in architecture needs some work, and discussions are ongoing about how to improve it. Progress is already being made, and you can track it for yourself at http://trac.dojotoolkit.org/ticket/5707. In other words, if you want to create custom plug-ins, you'll likely have to hack on the Editor.js source code a bit until the plug-in architecture is smoothed out a bit more.

Also, don't forget that you have to manually dojo.require in the plug-in that you are using. The plug-in architecture does not perform any sort of autodetection at this time.

Currently, the default means of handling the Enter key is determined by the EnterKeyHandling attribute blockNodeForEnter, which has a default value of 'P'. Currently, there isn't really a better way of changing it than by extending this plug-in's prototype and overriding it like so:

dojo.addOnLoad(function(  ) {
      dojo.extend(dijit._editor.plugins.EnterKeyHandling, {
           blockNodeForEnter : "div" // or "br" or "empty"

Provides a button with a dialog for picking a font name, font size, and format block. Arguments to plugins or extraPlugins may be fontName, fontSize, or formatBlock.


Provides a button with a dialog for entering a hyperlink source and displayed value. Arguments to plugins or extraPlugins may be createLink.


Provides options for specifying the foreground color or background color for a range of text. Arguments to plugins or extraPlugins may be foreColor or hiliteColor.


Provides a means of involving the HTML dir attribute on the Editor (regardless of how the rest of the page is laid out) so that the Editor 's contents could be left-to-right or right-to-left. Arguments to plugins or extraPlugins may be toggleDir.

To make matters a little less muddy, consider the differences in the snippets of markup shown in Table 15-15 when creating an editor.

Table 15-15. Different approaches to creating an editor



<div dojoType="dijit.Editor">

Creates an Editor with the default toolbar.

<div dojoType="dijit.Editor" plugins="['bold', 'italic']">

Creates an Editor with a toolbar that has only the bold and italic buttons.

<div dojoType="dijit.Editor" extraPlugins="['hiliteColor']">

Creates an Editor with a default toolbar that has an additional button for highlighting text—assuming you've issued a dojo.require("dijit._editor.plugins.TextColor") statement.

<div dojoType="dijit.Editor" plugins="['bold', 'italic']" extraPlugins="['fontName']">

Creates an Editor with a toolbar consisting of a bold and italic button along with a control for selecting a custom font (assuming you've issued a dojo.require("dijit._editor.plugins.FontChoice") statement). Note that this has the exact same effect as including all three plug-ins inside the plugin attribute.

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