WPF RichTextBox With Two Way DataBinding

by Shawn Duggan on 02/08/2009

In an application I’m currently writing my users will be creating many text notes and I wanted to allow for the user to create nicely formatted documents, as well as having the ability for fine-grained control over printing options.  Enter the RichTextBox – it is similar to a TextBox, but provides more advanced text formatting options to the user.  Enabling the advanced editing features is trivial (read up on the available Editing Commands), literally in minutes you can create a WYSIWYG editor.   Where things get sticky is when you start talking about databinding.

The RichTextBox stores the text in its Document property which is of type FlowDocument.  It isn’t a dependency property, nor does it implement INotiftyPropertyChanged so you can’t bind directly to it.  This is a problem.  In my application I want my users to create richly formatted documents which are added to a Notes collection on my entity and then have each note persisted as a string in my database.

I decided the best way to go would be to subclass the RichTextBox, and expose a DependencyProperty to handle the binding.  I’d then need some plumbing internally to keep things in sync.  Before I plunged headfirst into my own implementation, I spent a little time on Google to see how others have approached the problem.  I found many people hoping to do the same thing I was, but not any complete solutions.  I did find a MSDN forum post which had a code snippet that looked like a good place to start, and I also found some sample code for a WYSIWYG editor, so I cobbled the 2 together in my new WPFControls project and I was off and running.

Getting the Two-Way databinding working did turn out to be more of a chore than I’d hoped, but using the IValueConverter interface I was eventually able to bind a string property on a domain entity to the Document property on a RichTextBox.  I decided to wrap the implementation up in its own UserControl for reuse, so in the end my domain entity is bound to a string DP on the UC, and the Document property on the RichTextBox is bound to this same string property on the UC using IValueConverter.

To use the control in a project you first need to reference it in your project, and then in xaml you can reference it like this:

   1: xmlns:WPFControls="clr-namespace:BlueTango.WPFControls;assembly=BlueTango.WPFControls"

and then to use it:

   1: <WPFControls:TextEditor
   2:                     SpellCheckIsEnabled="True"
   3:                     AcceptsTab="True"
   4:                     Document="{Binding ElementName=lstNotes, Path=SelectedItem.Description, Mode=TwoWay}" />

I added a couple of properties on the control itself to illustrate that it easy to still have control over the inner wrapped RTB.  You can see in my sample above I have it bound to a ListBox control which has a list of Notes.  The Description property is the string holding the xaml of the FlowDocument.

I have included a rough sample project you can use to create your own control for your projects.  Enjoy!

BlueTango.WPFControls.zip (3478)

UPDATE:   A reader contributed this code a while back…

From Abbott Fleur and Dan Vanderboom: “I’m expanding your BindableRichTextBox control to allow linq-sql binding to db text source. I’m planning on using an existing routine I’ve written that loads the RTB based on the ip format and saves based on a SaveAs (DataFormats) property. ”

While I have not tried this code myself – here it is.  Thanks Abbott and Dan!

BoundRichTextBox.zip (2657)

While comments are welcome, please note that I am unable to offer help or support for using this update or the original code.  It is provided “as-is” without warranty or guarantees.

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