We have been discussing the text formatting features of Telerik Reporting for a while now. We have used different names and terms that might sound misleading or inconsistent. In order to eliminate any further misunderstanding let me elaborate a bit more on what exactly we are working on.
Currently, in order to display a text content one should use the TextBox
report item. It renders plain text formatted according to the item's Style. This means that the entire TextBox content is rendered in one color, with the same font and size. Although this functionality covers the basic reporting needs we need, it does have some limitations that make the process of designing reports cumbersome. So, we decided to move one step further and style not only the entire item, but different parts of the content.
The new report item we are developing will allow formatting of different parts of the contained text with different styles. This includes the basic formatting: background and fore color, text align, font name, size and style, plus organizing the text in paragraphs and lists. In order to keep the formatting information with the text (that is - "rich text") we need to use some kind of meta language. There are several document markup languages
that are suitable for this task. To name some of them: HTML, XHTML, RTF, TeX, LaTeX, etc. Of course we have the freedom to use our own internal representation/format. Although they all use different syntax, the output that the end user sees is usually the same.
After examining the different possibilities, the capabilities of the supported output formats, and the feedback from our customers (Thank you!) we decided to stick to HTML (to be more specific, we will support a subset of the HTML elements that are suitable for formatting the text). Not to mention that Telerik
is well known on the market by its award winning WYSIWYG HTML editor - RadEditor
The new item, called HtmlTextBox
, can render XHTML content, and will support the following HTML elements: STRONG, B, EM, I, U, DIV, SPAN, P, FONT, CENTER, UL, OL, LI, BR; it will also support these CSS styles: background color, font (family, size, weight, style), border (color/style/width), text align and color. We decided to start with a limited set of HTML/CSS elements; if things go well we will extend the HTML capabilities of the HtmlTextBox.
Our primary goal was to enable rich formatting of the report content - not to develop a HTML rendering engine/viewer/browser. The HTML/CSS subset we will support is just for this case. Moreover Telerik Reporting
supports a number of different export formats. Some of them have limited rendering capabilities (for ex. MS Excel) that could hardly be passed by.
The new HtmlTextBox report item has one more feature - it supports merging fields - a functionality similar to the MS Word's mail merge, but extended with the Telerik Reporting's built-in expressions.
The new rich text features will be available no later than the 2009.1 release scheduled for March 10. Then all of you will have the chance to play with them and give your feedback. It is our believe that the HtmlTextBox will be powerful enough for your richtext formatting needs.
the Telerik team