For many developers the TextArea control that Real Software provides with Real Studio is more than adequate for their needs. It provides basic StyledText support, spell checking for Cocoa (Mac OS X Only) builds, and limited Rich Text Format (RTF) support. If you’ve ever wanted to do add graphics, you’re pretty much out of luck and it doesn’t look like Real Software will add support for graphics any time soon.
The Formatted Text Control (FTC) is our solution to the limits of the TextArea control. It provides word processing capabilities in true WYSIWYG format similar to what Apple Pages and Microsoft Word provide. It has three view modes to help control how the user interacts with their document. It provides better (not complete, however) support for RTF, plain text, and XML document formats.
If the FTC doesn’t do exactly what you want it’s relatively easy to create your own special objects using the FTCustom class to provide practically anything your application needs. We’ve used these capabilities in our consulting work to provide inline file references, inline tagging capabilities as well as database merging. Really, your imagination is the only limit with these objects. And, just to add some icing on the cake, you can easily save these custom objects to and from XML.
For true cross-platform spell checking it can also make use of the Spell Checking Utilities (SCU) plugin, also available from us at http://www.bkeeney.com/spell-check-utilities/. The SCU uses the Wintertree spell checking library and they have additional languages and even medical and legal supplements.
We took over the FTC from the previous developer in July of last year and we’ve been busy updating it for version 3. New in this version is Retina Display support for Cocoa builds and provides the crisp quality that many Mac users expect from their applications in the higher resolution.
Also new in this version is true hyperlink support. In previous versions you could have fake hyperlinks using the FTCustom class but now it’s part of the internal StyleRun and can be read in and out of RTF documents. In addition to that we added support for text opacity and text shadow to have even better control of your text.
We’ve done a little bit of custom development work for various clients that have made their way into this release as well. We added AutoComplete support for those that want to offer their users shortcuts and hints to words they’ve already started typing. This should be helpful for anyone that’s using the RBScriptEditor subclass or who makes heavy use of custom words.
Along the way we’ve rewritten the Undo Manager to allow for unlimited undo/redo. We’ve rewritten the RTF Reader class to handle RTF input faster and cleaner. Based on our own project needs we greatly enhanced the HTML Export functions so that it exports more style information and many other things including images and any FTCustom objects the developer might be using.
We also listened to what users were having problems with. Many people found the big monolithic demo application too complicated so we created a number of smaller, more targeted demo applications that should hopefully make things easier for people to get started. Also based on feedback we removed the dependency of the main demo application to have the Spell Checking Utilities (SCU) plugin installed and made a smaller Spell checking specific demo.
We are keenly aware that Cocoa is soon going to be the new normal for Real Studio builds and we’ve added more/better Cocoa support. Not all is well in the land of Cocoa for us, however. Text input handling is vastly different in Cocoa than in Carbon and there are major issues with accented characters in controls that weren’t designed for text input. One of those is the Canvas control and currently the FTC, nor any other canvas control doing keyboard input in Cocoa builds, is able to capture nor detect accented characters.
Real Software has found a solution (since the IDE code editor itself is a canvas subclass) and we are working closely with them to modify the FTC to use this new solution. The drawback is that it will require a plugin that eventually Real Software will release to the public sometime after 2013 Release 1. I’ve been told that this plugin will be open sourced so that the community will be able to modify it as they need but so far there’s no timetable on that.
Switching to this plugin will require that developers using the FTC will need to have this plugin installed for it to work. It’s a drag but there’s no way around it. It also means that starting in version 3.1 of the FTC it will NOT be backwards compatible with older versions of Real Studio. This plugin will ONLY work with Real Studio 2013 Release 1 or better. Again, not ideal and it’s possible that we will maintain multiple versions.
Formatted Text Control is $150 which gives you the entire source code base. Nothing is encrypted so you have total control over it. Existing users of the FTC (versions 1 or 2) are eligible to get version 3 at 50% off and should have received an email with the coupon code a week ago. Contact support at BKeeney if you are an existing user that did not receive a coupon code.
For more information on the Formatted Text Control please visit http://www.bkeeney.com/formatted-text-control/. There you’ll find demo and documentation downloads as well as a full list of enhancements and changes in version 3.0