MOSS rich text editing from any browser with Telerik's r.a.d.Editor

MOSS rich text editing from any browser with Telerik's r.a.d.Editor

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Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 uses an ActiveX control to provide rich text editing capabilities (actually HTML editing) in several places. Here are a few places where it is leveraged:

  • Multiple-lines-of-text column editor in list item editing
  • Content Editor Web Part
  • Wiki editor in the Wiki template
  • Page Content editor in Publishing templates

The problem with using an ActiveX control for those is that it will not work with Firefox or Safari. This is actually documented at http://technet2.microsoft.com/Office/en-us/library/ff6c5b8c-59bd-4079-8f0b-de4f8b4e0a861033.mspx and also at http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepoint/archive/2006/07/19/671735.aspx. However, through a partnership with Telerik, MOSS 2007 users can download a free control called "r.a.d.Editor" that provides a great rich text editor that works with browsers other than Internet Explorer.

To test it out, I registered for a free download of this control at http://www.telerik.com/sharepoint. I immediately got an e-mail from them that allowed me to log in and download a zip file called RadEditorMOSS_1_0.zip. Inside, there are only two files: the MOSS solution called RadEditorMOSS.wsp and an HTML help file called RadEditorMOSS_1_0.chm. You can find instructions on how to install the solution in the help file, but if you have trouble opening it (there are security restrictions around the CHM format on the most recent Microsoft operating systems), you can find an online version of the help at http://www.telerik.com/help/radeditormoss/.

As with most solutions, you need to follow a few steps:

  • Add the solution to the farm with an STSADM command: "STSADM -o addsolution -filename [path]\RadEditorMOSS.wsp
  • In "Central Administration", "Operations" tab, "Global Configuration" group, "Solution Management" option, select the "RadEditorMOSS" solution and click on the option to "Deploy Solution".
  • Enable any required features in your site collections

The MOSS area where I had the most interest in regards to rich text editing was Wikis. I am working with a client that supports Firefox as a browser and I needed a decent editor there. I was glad to see that I did not have to do anything to make the new control available when I clicked the "Edit" option in the MOSS wiki templates when running Firefox. In fact, I was a bit surprised to see that I did not even have to activate any feature for that to happen. Please note that the Telerik control will not be offered to IE clients, which will still use the ActiveX control. That works fine for me, though.

You can also use the Telerik control to edit columns of type "Multiple lines of text" in list items. In theory, to make that happen, you need to go to "Site Settings", "Site Collection Features" and activate a feature called "Use r.a.d.Editor to edit List Items". You would need to this for every site collection or use feature stapling to apply it everywhere. However, I did not need to change anything on existing sites to get this functionality working for Firefox users. Again, this will not change the behavior for Internet Explorer users.

In regards to the Content Editor Web Part, I must say I was a bit disappointed. Instead of somehow changing that out-of-the-box web part behavior, you actually get a new web part called "Telerik r.a.d.Editor for MOSS", which has a similar functionality and works across browsers. This web part should show up in the "Miscellaneous" group, the same one where you find the "Content Editor Web Part". I guess that also works fine, but you have to be aware of the change. You will need to educate your users to use the new web part so that any browser can properly edit it. It’s fairly easy to add the new part and cut/paste the content from the old one, but it’s a pain…

Another limitation was in the support for editing Page Content in a publishing site. Not something I am using at the moment with my customer, but I'm sure this is important to many out there. As with the Content Editor Web Part, after the installation of the control, nothing will change. To make things happen, you will need to edit the page templates using SharePoint Designer to replace the default editor. You only need to do this once for each page template, but it's not smooth sailing as it is for Wikis... On the bright side and unlike the Content Editor Web Part, once you change the page templates, all content created with the default editor will be there and you will be able to use other browsers to edit from then on. You need to make two changes in each template (one registers the assembly and the other changes the default editor). It's all documented at http://www.telerik.com/help/radeditormoss/Using%20r.a.d.editor%20in%20Web%20Content%20Management%20scenario.html.

One interesting thing is that the Telerik documentation mentioned I needed to change my web.config file associated with each MOSS web application, but I really never had to do that. In fact, I could not find a good reference of what I was supposed to put in the web.config file in the first place.

Overall, the Telerik solution is very good. Deployment works great for wikis and list content editing, but it's just OK in regards to the Content Editor Web Part and Page Editing in a WCM scenario. It does work as advertised, though, and you end-users will love it for sure. As a free download, it will certainly end up deployed anywhere you have MOSS 2007 and non-IE browsers. The editor itself is really nice and in many ways superior to the ActiveX provided out-of-the-box. Telerik provides a comparison between them at http://www.telerik.com/documents/RadEditorMOSS_Feature_Comparison.pdf. In the end, you might find yourself considering buying the full version of the control to be able to offer it to your Internet Explorer users.

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