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Does anyone have advice regarding building/finding a Web based template/document editor control/component?

Posted on 2013-11-01
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Last Modified: 2013-11-06
Hi:

I've just started looking into building a template based document design facility. This needs to be a Web based solution as opposed to a fat desktop application. Right now I'm investigating possible approaches to investigate/vette/consider.

Essentially the document would read very much like a MS word document. The document would contain a list of tagged fields which would be mapped/bound to data. The fields could be single words, text blocks, tables and perhaps some images. Additionally the document would contained free hand/formatted text. The system would need to keep track of it's tagged fields. Updates to database fields would be pushed out to the application which would update the bound document fields.

From a user stand point, I think the design piece has to be very idiot proof to use. From a usability standpoint, it should look and function an awful lot like MS Word. If the UI is familiar to users, they will be far more likely to embrace the application.

The easiest thing (from a user's standpoint) is to let them create some basic document templates.

Think of this model: you have your display/document area in a panel on the left, and on the right you've got a series of predefined templates, which users can click, drag and place with the report/document design panel.

I know Microsoft Word has some level of support for this somewhere  (Mail Merge).

We really don't want to have to write and support a fully functional home grown report
designer (we shouldn't have to). I've got to think that there are some customizable open source solutions or control/component libraries that would come close to what we need.

Do any ideas come to mind in terms of approaches/technologies?
(custom solutions, open source, 3rd party controls, et al)

Has anyone done anything similar?

 I got think there's something out there thought aught to be close.

Thanks,
JohnB
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Question by:jxbma
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Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 39618245
Are you talking about an easy way to build a web page or an easy way to extract data from a database? if so, which database?
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:COBOLdinosaur
ID: 39618766
Yeah the information is a little too broad and unfocused to make any valid recommendations.  If you put the keywords from your question title in a search engine you will probably get a millon or more hits.

Rather than Us guessing what you want and posting lists of links, you need to gives us more specific requirements, or do some searching an narrow down the possibilities with references to something you see.

Cd&
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Author Comment

by:jxbma
ID: 39623373
I'm trying to build a web-based document editor.
Think of something that's very much MS-Word like in it's editing capabilities.

With that in mind, now add the concept of users having a list of tagged data fields they can embed into a document. These <<tagged fields>> are "bound" to data served up from the DB.
(Much like mail-merging).

The editor will need to keep track of embedded <<tagged fields>> so that they can add customized text/content to their document, yet still be able to update the <<tagged fields>>.

I recently built something very similar to this, but it was a fat desktop based client application. I built both winForms and WPF based versions.

Take a look at the attached overview image.

Thanks,
JohnB
HighRoads-Document-Generator---E.png
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U.S. Department of Agriculture and Acronis Access

With the new era of mobile computing, smartphones and tablets, wireless communications and cloud services, the USDA sought to take advantage of a mobilized workforce and the blurring lines between personal and corporate computing resources.

 
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Expert Comment

by:COBOLdinosaur
ID: 39624894
That is a pretty full featured application.  It is really well beyond the scope of Q and A.  As you develop and have specific issues we may be able to help find solutions, but it is not likely that a volunteer Expert is going to make the time investment to even try and define the requirements for such a thing.

Cd&
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Author Comment

by:jxbma
ID: 39627814
Yes it is. You requested detail on what I'm trying to do.

I fear that you are misunderstanding the intentions of my request.

All I am looking for is advice finding possible 3rd party/open source HTML/javascript libraries which provide the ability to edit documents within a browser page.

I'm not looking for help to engineer the solution. I can do that.
A starting point is finding existing open source solutions that I can evaluate.

Thanks,
JohnB
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:COBOLdinosaur
ID: 39628457
The only difference between me Googling and posting a list of links and you Googling is that you will be able to filter the results because you have an idea of what you want and are looking for.  

I have no idea of what you actually need; having zero knowledge about your environment, business , resources, volumes, hardware.  There are no formal requirements and what you have described is not something I have seen.  There are literally tens of thousands of editors around. If you can't do formal requirements, than anyone of them could be a possible solution.

Cd&
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Accepted Solution

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Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 500 total points
ID: 39628476
If you want online document editing, google drive and microsoft skydrive have that pretty much figured out.   I have looked into other document management systems and those tend to just search but editing is done via ms word/excel.
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Author Closing Comment

by:jxbma
ID: 39628542
This wasn't a hard question.
Thank you very much for helping me with a little bit of direction.
That is what I was looking for.

Thanks again,
JohnB
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