Binding and styling text to a RichTextBox in WPF

The RichTextBox in WPF is a great tool for dealing with text that needs to be styled (such as syntax highlighting) but its not so great when it comes to allowing us to bind and edit text on the fly.

I got a feature request from our product manager to change the colour of certain text within a TextBox to match a legacy application.  It turns out it is not as straight forward as you might expect.

We have text in an SQL database like this:

this is a title:.\r\n\r\nThis is a normal line\r\n\r\nthis is another title:.\r\n

You can see that the titles end with “:.” so all we need to do is pull out these lines and make them (in my case) blue.

The problem is that this text is on an object that my previous TextBox was able to bind its Text property to with ease, but the RichTextBox has no text property as it displays a flow document. OK, I thought, I will just bind the text to the document as follows:

<RichTextBox IsReadOnly=”True” Document=”{Binding ElementName=ViewType, Path=SelectedItem.Tag />

This doesn’t work because the Document property is not a Dependency Property and therefore can not be bound to.  So BindableRichTextBox here I come.  I created a very simple control so that I could bind to the Document property.  In doing this I discovered that the Document property expects a FlowDocument as its content so I had to convert my text string to a flow document with the relevant parts highlighted.  I used a converter to spit out the FlowDocument with the correctly formatted text on a per line basis


public object Convert(object value, Type targetType, object parameter, System.Globalization.CultureInfo culture)
{
    FlowDocument doc = new FlowDocument();

    string s = value as string;
    if (s != null)
    {
        using (StringReader reader = new StringReader(s))
        {
            string newLine;
            while ((newLine = reader.ReadLine()) != null)
            {
                Paragraph paragraph = null;
                if (newLine.EndsWith(":."))
                {
                    paragraph = new Paragraph(new Run(newLine.Replace(":.", string.Empty)));
                    paragraph.Foreground = new SolidColorBrush(Colors.Blue);
                    paragraph.FontWeight = FontWeights.Bold;
                }
                else
                {
                    paragraph = new Paragraph(new Run(newLine));
                }

                doc.Blocks.Add(paragraph);
            }
        }
    }

    return doc;
}

This simply takes the string and reads it line by line.  If we have the desired characters at the end of a line (“:.”) then we make the line blue and bold and remove the characters, otherwise we just add the text.  Each line is added as a paragraph so to reduce the space between each one I added the following to the control declaration in the XAML

<RichTextBox.Resources>

<Style TargetType=”{x:Type Paragraph}”>

<Setter Property=”Margin” Value=”0″/>

</Style>

</RichTextBox.Resources>

This simply removes the the margin from each paragraph.

The final part of the puzzle is the control that allows binding this is a simple case of adding a dependency property onto a new control that inherits from RichTextBox

public class BindableRichTextBox : RichTextBox
{
    public static readonly DependencyProperty DocumentProperty = DependencyProperty.Register("Document", typeof(FlowDocument), typeof(BindableRichTextBox), new FrameworkPropertyMetadata(null, new PropertyChangedCallback(OnDocumentChanged)));

    public new FlowDocument Document
    {
        get
        {
            return (FlowDocument)this.GetValue(DocumentProperty);
        }

        set
        {
            this.SetValue(DocumentProperty, value);
        }
    }

    public static void OnDocumentChanged(DependencyObject obj, DependencyPropertyChangedEventArgs args)
    {
        RichTextBox rtb = (RichTextBox)obj;
        rtb.Document = (FlowDocument)args.NewValue;
    }
}

I hope you find a use for this – I simply need it written down somewhere so I don’t forget!

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