[whatwg] behavior when typing in contentEditable elements

On Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 1:21 PM, Ojan Vafai <ojan at chromium.org> wrote:
> Dealing with inconsistencies in browser behavior during typing is one of the hardest parts of writing a sane web-based rich-text editor.?We have researched what a variety of text editors (Word, Powerpoint, Wordpad, TextEdit) and browsers using contentEditable/DesignMode currently do when you press different keys on the keyboard, in a number of rich text situations, with a variety of text selections. From this data, we attempt to identify recommendations that are OS-agnostic for editing behaviors inside a contentEditable element.
> Since we've used a bunch of tables and formatting, we've attached the doc as an HTML file in addition to inline.

I've recently been working on specs for some of this stuff,
specifically Enter and Backspace.  I'm not yet done, but here's what I
have so far:


I've defined the delete command to be the same as Backspace.  For
Enter, you recommend making some commands splitBlock, splitOutOfBlock,
and insertBreak, but none of these seem to be supported by any
browser.  I used the insertParagraph command to have the meaning of
hitting Enter, because WebKit and Opera already behave that way, and
IE's and Gecko's behavior for insertParagraph is not useful.  (WebKit
does seem to support an insertLineBreak command that I assume behaves
like Shift-Enter.)

You can see an experimental implementation of the spec's
delete/insertParagraph commands (along with others) here:


"Run tests" for a command will tell you what the spec implementation
and the current browser do when the command is run on a variety of
inputs.  You can also add your own inputs, with [] marking selections
in text nodes and {} in elements.  Ignore any notes asking you whether
to store new test results.  There are also manual tests that let you
compare the specified behavior for the command to the behavior of
browsers when you actually hit the relevant key:


I largely agreed with and followed the recommendations in the paper,
and some were quite helpful.  Some points of difference:

* It's not clear what behavior you recommend for delete if the cursor
is collapsed at the beginning of the first item of a list.  I wound up
outdenting the first item in that case, which doesn't really match
anyone's behavior but seems like the most sensible option given how
lists work in HTML.
* You didn't mention what to do for delete if the cursor is collapsed
at the beginning of an indented block (blockquote).  I outdent the
block, matching word processors but not browsers (which merge with the
previous block).
* If the cursor is collapsed immediately after a list whose last item
is empty, you suggest removing the last item on delete.  Word 2007
seems to merge into the last item instead, as do browsers.  That makes
more sense to me, and it's simpler, so it's what I specced.
* When hitting Enter in a <blockquote>, you suggest splitting the
<blockquote>.  I disagree: <blockquote> is meant to contain block
content, and the intent in such a case is likely to have multiple
paragraphs within the same blockquote.  I've specified that the
contents should be split, not the blockquote itself.
* I haven't yet specified that id's should not be duplicated, but I plan to.

You suggest that the tab key in browsers should act like indent, as in
dedicated text editors.  This isn't tenable -- it means that if you're
using Tab to cycle through focusable elements on the page, as soon as
it hits a contenteditable area it will get stuck and start doing
something different.  No current browser does this, for good reason.

I plan to specify forwardDelete (= Delete key) next, followed by
insertText (= typing characters) and maybe insertLineBreak (=
Shift-Enter).  Then I'll move on to copy/cut/paste and undo/redo.
Then I'll most likely do queryCommand*().  At some point I'll probably
also do more work on Selection, such as specifying Selection.modify()
and requiring that user actions behave like it.  At that point I'll
have specified pretty much all the major behavior of editable areas
and execCommand(), as far as I'm aware, and I'll move on to doing
cleanup and refinement.

Received on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 12:54:02 UTC