Why we use Microsoft RichEdit as the note editor in WhizFolders

In WhizFolders, we avoided using any other RTF or HTML editor control from other companies. We decided to use Microsoft RichEdit control as the note editor in spite of the fact that it is quite complex to use, especially for OLE stuff like displaying pictures. Why did we go to all that trouble? The idea is that we want you to easily exchange RTF text with Microsoft Word, Wordpad and other RTF editors. Unless you can exchange text easily, it is difficult to work with many software tools. And, using Windows effectively means being able to use many tools together, isn’t it?

There’s more. WhizFolders now uses the latest unicode-enabled RichEdit. This means even more RTF compatibility. For example, the tables copied from Microsoft Word now display very well in WhizFolders notes.

Using the RichEdit also means being able to insert OLE objects. Try inserting a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet by Insert Object in a WhizFolders note. You will be delighted. Moreover, we have made our own little innovations in RichEdit–easy hyperlinks that can be typed, nested lists and so on. We will continue to use newer RichEdit controls as they are released by Microsoft.

We think no one uses RichEdit as well as we do:) Please also see “Other strong points of using RTF” later in this article.

You can never please everyone: Some trial users complain that WhizFolders doesn’t preserve the format when they copy information from the web. First, I would like to point out that keeping web pages exactly is not the primary use of WhizFolders. As to why WhizFolders can’t preserve the format of the text copied form the web, this is a side effect of using an RTF control as the editor. Here is a little explanation:

It is the Browser that converts to RTF: When you copy text in the browser, it is the browser that is responsible for converting from the HTML format of the web pages to the RTF format. So the RTF that you paste in WhizFolders will be as good as the browser making it up. If you use FireFox, it doesn’t even put an RTF copy on the clipboard. As a result when you paste from FireFox, you get only plain text.

Internet Explorer does a better job of making up RTF of your copied text. But still, it can never be perfect. Many things in HTML, especially tables, do not convert well to RTF.

At least, WhizFolders preserves links: Also, Internet Explorer does not put the links properly in the RTF copy. You can prove this by pasting a text full of links in Wordpad. Wordpad also uses the same RTF control that WhizFolders does but it doesn’t resolve the links and many times, they won’t work. In version 6.1 of WhizFolders, we have spent considerable effort to make sure that the links are resolved properly. Since it is a new feature, it might encounter cases where it can’t do that. If you find a link that doesn’t work, please send us a sample.

Other strong points of using RTF:

Another reason for using an RTF format for WhizFolder documents is based on the different ways that people use WhizFolders:

  1. Writing a document: developing a document in pieces, making an outline, adding more pieces as the research progresses, and finally joining the pieces to make a complete document.
  2. Making study notes when learning and then print them out to make comprehensive review material.
  3. Other information management uses that utilize the power of hyperlinking features in WhizFolders.
  4. Managing random bits of information and then categorizing and making sense of them.

While you may find many other tools in the fourth category, you will find that WhizFolders is unique in other categories of uses mentioned above. You should be able to prepare an outline and do your research in a list form and later be able to join the pieces to make a big document. One of the users even made a 1000-page document by combining the pieces. You can’t think of such feats in other software. It is because of the list-outling in WhizFolders and the RTF format that these features are possible.

Had we used an HTML editor, perhaps, the pastes from the web pages had kept their original format. But, the first two major uses of WhizFolders would have practically vanished. You can’t combine different web sites into one document and yet preserve their look and feel in the document pages. The point I am trying to make is that when doing research or writing documents, you care less about the format but the content of the text. You then format it the way you want. That is the core principle on which WhizFolders is designed. And, it will grow in that direction only.

But keeping in view the “random information” users of WhizFolders, in future, we might proide a secondary document type that is not RTF but HTML. This would be more like a database rather than a document and its primary use would be for saving random pieces of information from the web in their original format. But you can never expect other power features of WhizFolders in these types of documents. For example, you would not be able to join those pieces to make a big document or get a combined printout.

Update: Well, with Windows 10, we see more advantages of this approach. See Windows 10 rich editor’s table features