At the Forge - Dojo
Listing 1. simple.html
This month, we take a simpler approach, including our rich-text editor in an HTML form submission. Unfortunately, it's still not obvious how we can pull this off, because HTML forms consist of <input> and <textarea> tags. Luckily, the Dojo team has taken this into consideration. Notice that we define a Dojo widget by its class, not by its tag type. This means we can attach the dojo-Editor class to anything, not only to an empty <div> tag. If we attach it to a <textarea>—which is a block element, just like <div>—our text editor will be attached to a textarea, which will be submitted to the server. In other words, we replace our <div> with:
<textarea name="text" class="dojo-Editor"> Hello from the Dojo editor! </textarea>
Listing 2 shows an example of how this might look when incorporated into a simple HTML form. When the contents of the form are sent to the server, all formatting is preserved using HTML tags. Your application will need to parse this HTML to understand any formatting that might appear in the text.
Listing 2. simple-form.html
Of course, if your plan is to take the input text and simply display it in a Web browser, not much (if any) work is needed on your part. You can stick the input into a database and then retrieve it whenever it is needed. (I haven't checked into the security of this widget to make sure it is immune to cross-site scripting attacks, so you might want to investigate it further before simply accepting, storing and displaying user data.)
As you can already see, Dojo offers a wide variety of functions and doesn't take much effort to start using. But using many of the other widgets Dojo includes, such as an attractive DatePicker, requires that we use Dojo's sophisticated event handler, which we did not examine here. Next month, we will look at events in Dojo and how that package lets us incorporate special effects, Ajax and many more widgets into our Web applications.
The main source for information about Dojo, as well as Dojo software releases, is at dojotoolkit.org. Documentation for the toolkit is still a bit sparse, but it has improved significantly in the last few months, and continued improvements seem likely, given Dojo's growing popularity. The main URL for Dojo documentation is at dojotoolkit.org/docs, with Dojo.book (the Wiki-based Dojo documentation) at manual.dojotoolkit.org/index.html.
Finally, a good introduction to rich-text editing with Dojo is at dojotoolkit.org/docs/rich_text.html.
Reuven M. Lerner, a longtime Web/database consultant, is a PhD candidate in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He currently lives with his wife and three children in Skokie, Illinois. You can read his Weblog at altneuland.lerner.co.il.
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