Ben  McKernan
Nov 22, 2012
(4 votes)

Using contenteditable for editing

Introducing contenteditable

The contenteditable attribute has been around since the good old days of Internet Explorer 5.5 and has finally been introduced into the HTML5 standards and is supported by pretty much every browser ( It allows us to edit text directly on an HTML page.


With the release of EPiServer 7 we've added a lot of functionality to the editing experience but unfortunately contenteditable didn't make the cut. However with a little spare time after the release I did a little hacking and have created an add-on that can be easily plugged into a site to add contenteditable editing for plain text!

Editor Wrapper

In EPiServer 7 properties are associated with a particular editor based on their type. These editors are wrapped by an editor wrapper which generically handles the updating of the content model when a change event occurs in the editor and is also responsible for how the editor appears on screen (e.g. forms mode, floating dialog, or inline textbox).

However, in the contenteditable case, the browser is going to be the editor so there is no need to create a custom editor. Which means that since all the built-in editor wrappers require an editor to be available we need to create a new custom editor wrapper that will start editing when an overlay is clicked and cause changes to be passed to the content model when editing is stopped.

Here's one I prepared earlier:

    // General application modules
    'dojo/_base/array', 'dojo/dom-attr', 'dojo/dom-style', 'dojo/_base/event', 'dojo/keys', 'dojo/_base/lang', 'dojo/on', 'dijit/Tooltip',
    // Parent classes
], function(declare, array, domAttr, domStyle, event, keys, lang, on, Tooltip, _EditorWrapperBase) {
    // module:
    //        addon/wrapper/ContentEditable
    // summary:
    //        Adds content editable editing functionality for properties marked up with the "contenteditable" wrapper type.
    //        This editor wrapper doesn't require or support having an editor widget since editing is done directly on
    //        the DOM node and is handled by the browser.
    return declare([_EditorWrapperBase], {
        // regExp: [public] String
        //        Regular expression string used to validate the input.
        regExp: '.*',
        constructor: function(parameters) {
            this._handlers = [];
            // HACK: Since this editor wrapper doesn't have an editor widget, mix the editorParams into this.
            lang.mixin(this, parameters.editorParams);
            delete parameters.editorParams;
        uninitialize: function() {
            // summary:
            //        Ensure the editing features have been removed during destroy.
            // tags:
            //        protected
        startEdit: function() {
            // summary:
            //        Enable "contenteditable" for the DOM node, connect event listens, and give the editable node focus.
            // tags:
            //        protected
            var node = this.blockDisplayNode;
                on(node, 'blur', lang.hitch(this, 'tryToStopEditing')), 
                on(node, 'keydown', lang.hitch(this, '_processKeyEvent'))
            domStyle.set(this.overlayItem.domNode, 'visibility', 'hidden');
            domAttr.set(node, 'contenteditable', 'true');
        getEditorValue: function() {
            // summary:
            //        Gets the text content of the DOM node.
            // tags:
            //        public
            return this.blockDisplayNode.textContent;
        setEditorValue: function(value) {
            // summary:
            //        Sets the given value as the text content of the DOM node.
            // tags:
            //        public
            this.blockDisplayNode.textContent = value;
        isValid: function() {
            // summary:
            //        Tests if the value is valid.
            // tags:
            //        public
            var value = this.getEditorValue(),
                regex = new RegExp('^(?:' + this.regExp + ')' + (this.required ? '' : '?') + '$');
            return regex.test(value) && (!this.required || !this._isEmpty(value));
        _onTryToStopWithInvalidValue: function() {
            // summary:
            //        Display a validation error when the user tries to stop editing in an invalid state.
            // tags:
            //        protected
  , this.overlayItem.domNode, ["before-centered", "after-centered"]);
        _removeEditingFeatures: function() {
            // summary:
            //        Remove the contenteditable attribute from the DOM node and change back to a non-editing state.
            // tags:
            //        protected
            domStyle.set(this.overlayItem.domNode, 'visibility', 'visible');
            domAttr.remove(this.blockDisplayNode, 'contenteditable');
            array.forEach(this._handlers, function(handler) {
        _focusContentEditable: function() {
            // summary:
            //        Focuses the editable node, setting the caret to the end of the text.
            // tags:
            //        private
            var doc = this._getDocument(),
                range = doc.createRange(),
                selection = doc.getSelection();
            // Set the range to the entire contents of the node, then collapse the caret to the end.
            // Remove any existing ranges, then make our new range visible.
        _getDocument: function() {
            // summary:
            //        Gets the document for the editable node.
            // tags:
            //        private
            return this.blockDisplayNode.ownerDocument;
        _isEmpty: function(value) {
            // summary:
            //        Checks if the value is empty or whitespace.
            // tags:
            //        private
            return (/^\s*$/).test(value);
        _processKeyEvent: function(e) {
            // summary:
            //        Handles keypress events inside the content editable and invokes the relevant action.
            // tags:
            //        private
            switch(e.keyCode) {
                case keys.ESCAPE:
                case keys.ENTER:
                case keys.TAB:
                    this.isModified = true;

Editor Descriptor

Now, in order to make sure that our new editor wrapper is used instead of the default one for a string typed property we need to create an editor descriptor. An editor descriptor allows us to add custom information to the metadata for properties which will then be evaluated by the client side code at runtime. In this case it is as simple as specifying the uiWrapperType. Since we have a custom editor wrapper we’ll give it our own value of “contenteditable”.

[EditorDescriptorRegistration(TargetType = typeof(string), UIHint = "contenteditable")]
public class ContentEditableEditorDescriptor : EditorDescriptor
    public override void ModifyMetadata(ExtendedMetadata metadata, IEnumerable<Attribute> attributes)
        base.ModifyMetadata(metadata, attributes);
        metadata.CustomEditorSettings["uiWrapperType"] = "contenteditable";

You’ll also notice that I’ve given it a UIHint. This allows us to maintain the default functionality for strings and only use contenteditable where we specify. For example, in the Alloy templates I could change the UIHint for MetaDescription in SitePageData to be "contenteditable".

[Display(GroupName = Global.GroupNames.MetaData, Order = 300)]
public virtual string MetaDescription { get; set; }

Which means that MetaDescription will appear like this in on page edit.

MetaDescription with contenteditable


Now in order to map the “contenteditable” key that we’ve specified as our uiWrapperType to our actual editor wrapper we need to register a new editor wrapper in the editor factory. Unfortunately this is easier said than done. I have a fairly simple solution (*cough* hack *cough*) that will wire everything up nicely and efficiently. It a bit advanced in terms of dojo concepts but it basically listen on the register method of dependency and when the editor factory is registered we add our custom editor wrapper then unhook ourselves.

require(['dojo/aspect', 'epi/dependency'], function(aspect, dependency) {
    // summary:
    //        Initialize the addon by registering the contenteditable wrapper in the editor factory.
    var handle,
        key = 'epi.cms.contentediting.EditorFactory',
        register = function(identifier) {
            if (identifier !== key) {
            // When the EditorFactory is registered add our additional editor wrapper.
            var editorFactory = dependency.resolve(key);
            editorFactory.registerEditorWrapper('contenteditable', 'addon.wrapper.ContentEditable');
            // Remove the aspect handle.
    // Listen for when the EditorFactory is registered in the dependency manager.
    handle = aspect.after(dependency, "register", register, true);

Adding the following to your module.config will ensure that this script is run when the CMS module is started.

    <add name="epi.cms.widgets.base" path="ClientResources/addon/initialize.js" resourceType="Script" />

Installing the ContentEditable add-on

To make your life easier, I’ve packaged this as an add-on which you can manually upload and install on your site if you want to try it out.


After installing the add-on just set the UIHint for any of your string typed properties to “contenteditable” then build. After refreshing the site those properties will now use contenteditable.

Nov 22, 2012


Please login to comment.
Latest blogs
Customizing Property Lists in Optimizely CMS

Generic property lists is a cool editorial feature that has gained a lot of popularity - in spite of still being unsupported (officially). But if y...

Allan Thraen | Oct 2, 2022 | Syndicated blog

Content Delivery API – The Case of the Duplicate API Refresh Token

Creating a custom refresh provider to resolve the issues with duplicate tokens in the DXC The post Content Delivery API – The Case of the Duplicate...

David Lewis | Sep 29, 2022 | Syndicated blog

New Optimizely certifications - register for beta testing before November 1st

In January 2023, Optimizely is making updates to the current versions of our certification exams to make sure that each exam covers the necessary...

Jamilia Buzurukova | Sep 28, 2022

Optimizely community meetup - Sept 29 (virtual + Melbourne)

Super excited to be presenting this Thursday the 29th of September at the Optimizely community meetup. For the full details and RSVP's see the...

Ynze | Sep 27, 2022 | Syndicated blog

Preview multiple Visitor Groups directly while browsing your Optimizely site

Visitor groups are great - it's an easy way to add personalization towards market segments to your site. But it does come with it's own set of...

Allan Thraen | Sep 26, 2022 | Syndicated blog

The Report Center is finally back in Optimizely CMS 12

With Episerver.CMS.UI 12.12.0 the Report Center is finally re-introduced in the core product.

Tomas Hensrud Gulla | Sep 26, 2022 | Syndicated blog