# execCommand and contenteditable

# Listening to Changes of contenteditable

Events that work with most form elements (e.g., change, keydown, keyup, keypress) do not work with contenteditable.

Instead, you can listen to changes of contenteditable contents with the input event. Assuming contenteditableHtmlElement is a JS DOM object that is contenteditable:

contenteditableHtmlElement.addEventListener("input", function() {
    console.log("contenteditable element changed");
});

# Getting started

The HTML attribute contenteditable provides a simple way to turn a HTML element into a user-editable area

<div contenteditable>You can <b>edit</b> me!</div>

Native Rich-Text editing

Using JavaScript and execCommandW3C you can additionally pass more editing features to the currently focused contenteditable element (specifically at the caret position or selection).

The execCommand function method accepts 3 arguments

document.execCommand(commandId, showUI, value)

  • `commandId` String. from the list of available ****commandId****s
    (see: ****Parameters**→commandId**)
  • `showUI` Boolean (not implemented. Use `false`)
  • `value` String If a command expects a command-related String ****value****, otherwise `""`.
    (see: ****Parameters**→value**)
  • Example using the "bold" command and "formatBlock" (where a value is expected):

    document.execCommand("bold", false, "");          // Make selected text bold
    document.execCommand("formatBlock", false, "H2"); // Make selected text Block-level <h2>
    
    

    Quick Start Example:

    <button data-edit="bold"><b>B</b></button>
    <button data-edit="italic"><i>I</i></button>
    <button data-edit="formatBlock:p">P</button>
    <button data-edit="formatBlock:H1">H1</button>
    <button data-edit="insertUnorderedList">UL</button>
    <button data-edit="justifyLeft">&#8676;</button>
    <button data-edit="justifyRight">&#8677;</button>
    <button data-edit="removeFormat">&times;</button>
    
    <div contenteditable><p>Edit me!</p></div>
    
    <script>
    [].forEach.call(document.querySelectorAll("[data-edit]"), function(btn) {
      btn.addEventListener("click", edit, false);
    });
    
    function edit(event) {
      event.preventDefault();
      var cmd_val = this.dataset.edit.split(":");
      document.execCommand(cmd_val[0], false, cmd_val[1]);
    }
    <script>
    
    

    jsFiddle demo
    Basic Rich-Text editor example (Modern browsers)

    Final thoughts
    Even being present for a long time (IE6), implementations and behaviors of execCommand vary from browser to browser making "building a Fully-featured and cross-browser compatible WYSIWYG editor" a hard task to any experienced JavaScript developer.
    Even if not yet fully standardized you can expect pretty decent results on the newer browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Edge. If you need better support for other browsers and more features like HTMLTable editing etc. a rule of thumbs is to look for an already existent and robust Rich-Text editor.

    # Formatting

    Users can add formatting to contenteditable documents or elements using their browser's features, such as common keyboard shortcuts for formatting (Ctrl-B for bold, Ctrl-I for italic, etc.) or by dragging and dropping images, links, or markup from the clipboard.

    Additionally, developers can use JavaScript to apply formatting to the current selection (highlighted text).

    document.execCommand('bold', false, null); // toggles bold formatting
    document.execCommand('italic', false, null); // toggles italic formatting
    document.execCommand('underline', false, null); // toggles underline
    
    

    # Copy to clipboard from textarea using execCommand("copy")

    Example:

    <!DOCTYPE html>
    <html lang="en">
    <head>
        <meta charset="UTF-8">
        <title></title>
    </head>
    <body>
        <textarea id="content"></textarea>
        <input type="button" id="copyID" value="Copy" />
        <script type="text/javascript">
            var button = document.getElementById("copyID"),
                input = document.getElementById("content");
    
            button.addEventListener("click", function(event) {
                event.preventDefault();
                input.select();
                document.execCommand("copy");
            });
        </script>
    </body>
    </html>
    
    

    document.execCommand("copy") copies the current selection to the clipboard

    # Syntax

    • bool supported = document.execCommand(commandName, showDefaultUI, valueArgument)

    # Parameters

    commandId value
    ⋮ Inline formatting commands
    backColor Color value String
    bold
    createLink URL String
    fontName Font family name
    fontSize "1", "2", "3", "4", "5", "6", "7"
    foreColor Color value String
    strikeThrough
    superscript
    unlink
    ⋮ Block formatting commands
    delete
    formatBlock "address", "dd", "div", "dt", "h1", "h2", "h3", "h4", "h5", "h6", "p", "pre"
    forwardDelete
    insertHorizontalRule
    insertHTML HTML String
    insertImage URL String
    insertLineBreak
    insertOrderedList
    insertParagraph
    insertText Text string
    insertUnorderedList
    justifyCenter
    justifyFull
    justifyLeft
    justifyRight
    outdent
    ⋮ Clipboard commands
    copy Currently Selected String
    cut Currently Selected String
    paste
    ⋮ Miscellaneous commands
    defaultParagraphSeparator
    redo
    selectAll
    styleWithCSS
    undo
    useCSS