HTMLArea-3.0 Documentation

This documentation contains valid information, but is outdated in the terms that it does not covers all the features of HTMLArea. A new documentation project will be started, based on LaTeX.


What is HTMLArea?

HTMLArea is a free WYSIWYG editor replacement for <textarea> fields. By adding a few simple lines of JavaScript code to your web page you can replace a regular textarea with a rich text editor that lets your users do the following:

Some of the interesting features of HTMLArea that set's it apart from other web based WYSIWYG editors are as follows:

Is it really free? What's the catch?

Yes! It's really free. You can use it, modify it, distribute it with your software, or do just about anything you like with it.

What are the browser requirements?

HTMLArea requires Internet Explorer >= 5.5 (Windows only), or Mozilla >= 1.3-Beta on any platform. Any browser based on Gecko will also work, provided that Gecko version is at least the one included in Mozilla-1.3-Beta (for example, Galeon-1.2.8). However, it degrades gracefully to other browsers. They will get a regular textarea field instead of a WYSIWYG editor.

Can I see an example of what it looks like?

Just make sure you're using one of the browsers mentioned above and see below.

Where can I find out more info, download the latest version and talk to other HTMLArea users?

You can find out more about HTMLArea and download the latest version on the HTMLArea homepage and you can talk to other HTMLArea users and post any comments or suggestions you have in the HTMLArea forum.

Keyboard shortcuts

The editor provides the following key combinations:


How do I add HTMLArea to my web page?

It's easy. First you need to upload HTMLArea files to your website. Just follow these steps.

  1. Download the latest version from the htmlArea homepage.
  2. Unzip the files onto your local computer (making sure to maintain the directory structure contained in the zip).
  3. Create a new folder on your website called /htmlarea/ (make sure it's NOT inside the cgi-bin).
  4. Transfer all the HTMLArea files from your local computer into the /htmlarea/ folder on your website.
  5. Open the example page /htmlarea/examples/core.html with your browser to make sure everything works.

Once htmlArea is on your website all you need to do is add some JavaScript to any pages that you want to add WYSIWYG editors to. Here's how to do that.

  1. Define some global variables. "_editor_url" has to be the absolute URL where HTMLArea resides within your website; as we discussed, this would be “/htmlarea/”. "_editor_lang" must be the language code in which you want HTMLArea to appear. This defaults to "en" (English); for a list of supported languages, please look into the "lang" subdirectory in the distribution.
    <script type="text/javascript">
       _editor_url = "/htmlarea/";
       _editor_lang = "en";
  2. Include the "htmlarea.js" script:
    <script type="text/javascript" src="/htmlarea/htmlarea.js"></script>
  3. If you want to change all your <textarea>-s into HTMLArea-s then you can use the simplest way to create HTMLArea:

    <script type="text/javascript" defer="1">

    Note: you can also add the HTMLArea.replaceAll() code to the onload event handler for the body element, if you find it more appropriate.

    A different approach, if you have more than one textarea and only want to change one of them, is to use HTMLArea.replace("id") -- pass the id of your textarea. Do not use the name attribute anymore, it's not a standard solution!

This section applies to HTMLArea-3.0 release candidate 1 or later; prior to this version, one needed to include more files; however, now HTMLArea is able to include other files too (such as stylesheet, language definition file, etc.) so you only need to define the editor path and load "htmlarea.js". Nice, eh? ;-)

I want to change the editor settings, how do I do that?

While it's true that all you need is one line of JavaScript to create an htmlArea WYSIWYG editor, you can also specify more config settings in the code to control how the editor works and looks. Here's an example of some of the available settings:

var config = new HTMLArea.Config(); // create a new configuration object
                                    // having all the default values
config.width = '90%';
config.height = '200px';

// the following sets a style for the page body (black text on yellow page)
// and makes all paragraphs be bold by default
config.pageStyle =
  'body { background-color: yellow; color: black; font-family: verdana,sans-serif } ' +
  'p { font-width: bold; } ';

// the following replaces the textarea with the given id with a new
// HTMLArea object having the specified configuration
HTMLArea.replace('id', config);

Important: It's recommended that you add custom features and configuration to a separate file. This will ensure you that when we release a new official version of HTMLArea you'll have less trouble upgrading it.

How do I customize the toolbar?

Using the configuration object introduced above allows you to completely control what the toolbar contains. Following is an example of a one-line, customized toolbar, much simpler than the default one:

var config = new HTMLArea.Config();
config.toolbar = [
  ['fontname', 'space',
   'fontsize', 'space',
   'formatblock', 'space',
   'bold', 'italic', 'underline']
HTMLArea.replace('id', config);

The toolbar is an Array of Array objects. Each array in the toolbar defines a new line. The default toolbar looks like this:

config.toolbar = [
[ "fontname", "space",
  "fontsize", "space",
  "formatblock", "space",
  "bold", "italic", "underline", "separator",
  "strikethrough", "subscript", "superscript", "separator",
  "copy", "cut", "paste", "space", "undo", "redo" ],
[ "justifyleft", "justifycenter", "justifyright", "justifyfull", "separator",
  "insertorderedlist", "insertunorderedlist", "outdent", "indent", "separator",
  "forecolor", "hilitecolor", "textindicator", "separator",
  "inserthorizontalrule", "createlink", "insertimage", "inserttable", "htmlmode", "separator",
  "popupeditor", "separator", "showhelp", "about" ]

Except three strings, all others in the examples above need to be defined in the config.btnList object (detailed a bit later in this document). The three exceptions are: 'space', 'separator' and 'linebreak'. These three have the following meaning, and need not be present in btnList:

Important: It's recommended that you add custom features and configuration to a separate file. This will ensure you that when we release a new official version of HTMLArea you'll have less trouble upgrading it.

How do I create custom buttons?

By design, the toolbar is easily extensible. For adding a custom button one needs to follow two steps.

1. Register the button in config.btnList.

For each button in the toolbar, HTMLArea needs to know the following information:

You need to provide all this information for registering a new button too. The button ID can be any string identifier and it's used when defining the toolbar, as you saw above. We recommend starting it with "my-" so that it won't clash with the standard ID-s (those from the default toolbar).

Register button example #1

// get a default configuration
var config = new HTMLArea.Config();
// register the new button using Config.registerButton.
// parameters:        button ID,   tooltip,          image,           textMode,
config.registerButton("my-hilite", "Highlight text", "my-hilite.gif", false,
// function that gets called when the button is clicked
  function(editor, id) {
    editor.surroundHTML('<span class="hilite">', '</span>');

An alternate way of calling registerButton is exemplified above. Though the code might be a little bit larger, using this form makes your code more maintainable. It doesn't even needs comments as it's pretty clear.

Register button example #2

var config = new HTMLArea.Config();
  id        : "my-hilite",
  tooltip   : "Highlight text",
  image     : "my-hilite.gif",
  textMode  : false,
  action    : function(editor, id) {
                editor.surroundHTML('<span class="hilite">', '</span>');

You might notice that the "action" function receives two parameters: editor and id. In the examples above we only used the editor parameter. But it could be helpful for you to understand both:

2. Inserting it into the toolbar

At this step you need to specify where in the toolbar to insert the button, or just create the whole toolbar again as you saw in the previous section. You use the button ID, as shown in the examples of customizing the toolbar in the previous section.

For the sake of completion, following there are another examples.

Append your button to the default toolbar

config.toolbar.push([ "my-hilite" ]);

Customized toolbar

config.toolbar = [
  ['fontname', 'space',
   'fontsize', 'space',
   'formatblock', 'space',
   'separator', 'my-hilite', 'separator', 'space', // here's your button
   'bold', 'italic', 'underline', 'space']

Note: in the example above our new button is between two vertical separators. But this is by no means required. You can put it wherever you like. Once registered in the btnList (step 1) your custom button behaves just like a default button.

Important: It's recommended that you add custom features and configuration to a separate file. This will ensure you that when we release a new official version of HTMLArea you'll have less trouble upgrading it.

A complete example

Please note that it is by no means necessary to include the following code into the htmlarea.js file. On the contrary, it might not work there. The configuration system is designed such that you can always customize the editor from outside files, thus keeping the htmlarea.js file intact. This will make it easy for you to upgrade your HTMLArea when we release a new official version. OK, I promise it's the last time I said this. ;)

// All our custom buttons will call this function when clicked.
// We use the buttonId parameter to determine what button
// triggered the call.
function clickHandler(editor, buttonId) {
  switch (buttonId) {
    case "my-toc":
      editor.insertHTML("<h1>Table Of Contents</h1>");
    case "my-date":
      editor.insertHTML((new Date()).toString());
    case "my-bold":
    case "my-hilite":
      editor.surroundHTML("<span class=\"hilite\">", "</span>");

// Create a new configuration object
var config = new HTMLArea.Config();

// Register our custom buttons
config.registerButton("my-toc",  "Insert TOC", "my-toc.gif", false, clickHandler);
config.registerButton("my-date", "Insert date/time", "my-date.gif", false, clickHandler);
config.registerButton("my-bold", "Toggle bold/italic", "my-bold.gif", false, clickHandler);
config.registerButton("my-hilite", "Hilite selection", "my-hilite.gif", false, clickHandler);

// Append the buttons to the default toolbar
config.toolbar.push(["linebreak", "my-toc", "my-date", "my-bold", "my-hilite"]);

// Replace an existing textarea with an HTMLArea object having the above config.
HTMLArea.replace("textAreaID", config);

© 2002-2004.
© 2003-2004
HTMLArea v3.0 developed by Mihai Bazon.
Documentation written by Mihai Bazon.
Last modified: Wed Jan 28 12:18:23 EET 2004