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Toolbar Loading Optimizations

Since version 2008.1.619 of ASP.NET AJAX, RadEditor introduces improvements in the toolbar rendering and control loading. These improvements introduce a change when dealing with a combination of ToolsFile and using the RadEditor API. Firstly, it is important to point out - the change that was introduced

  • does not change the existing API of the editor

  • does not reduce the editor flexibility - all scenarios that worked prior to the change will continue to work (albeit it might be possible to add a line or two of code or to reorder the code)

The reason for the change is related to a much requested size and speed optimization when multiple RadEditor instances are on the same page (especially when all use the same ToolsFile). Telerik did several improvements to speed up editor loading, and the result is a significant optimization - the loading time could be cut by as much as 80%, that is - 10 fully-functional editors on the page would load in under 2 seconds.Here are the optimizations introduced:

  • ToolProviderID property. The ToolProviderID property helps to significantly reduce the HTML markup and JSON(Javascript Object Notation) sent from server to the client when multiple RadEditor objects with the same tools are used on the same page. You can see the following live example for more information: Using ToolProviderID. Note that the ToolProviderID property does not support the RibbonBar, RibbonBarFloating, RibbonBarPageTop and RibbonBarShowOnFocus toolbar modes.

  • Lazy initialization of the editor toolbars when the ToolbarMode is other than Default. In that case the editor tools are initialized not at page load, but when an editor is to be used for the first time

  • Invisible editors are not initialized until they become visible (very common optimization request from people using RadTabStrip and RadPanelbar to do their page layout)

What is the nature of the change and how does it affect more advanced scenarios such as yours?

To answer this question, it is important to understand how the editor functions internally - how the ToolsFile relates to the editor API. The ToolsFile is used as the default, the base for editor initialization. Not only the tools, but all of the editor's collections can be set from the tools file - e.g. modules, colors, cssclasses, css files, symbols, context menus, etc. This is why, when a ToolsFile is explicitly set, all of these collections are cleared and reset to what is specified in the tools file. Thus -scenarios that do both - set a tools file, and then modify some of these collections should do it in the right sequence.Then comes the API - all the editor collections are also accessible and configurable from the code behind, as well as declaratively on the page by using markup and specifying items directly between the editor's opening and closing tags.Up until now the default editor's ToolsFile (which is built into the editor's Telerik.Web.UI.dll) would be loaded early in the control's life cycle, and all subsequent changes through the API would be reflected. However, with the changed logic, the editor's ToosFile now loads in its OnPreRender method - late in the control's life cycle. This is to ensure that no needless processing is done and no CPU life cycles are wasted on the intensive operation of parsing a tools file, filling in collections and constructing object trees - that would then be cleared, for example, because of the use of external ToolProvider. After trying several options - each of which with its side effects, we picked up what seemed the best option:

  • Provide the ability for the developer to force the ToolsFile to be parsed and loaded at any given time by setting the EnsureToolsFileLoaded() editor's method.

  • If developers use the editor API, then we assume they will want/need/can configure all the tools, collections, etc from the API - and the editor's default ToolsFile will not be loaded

  • Setting a ToolsFile explicitly will reset all collections that are configurable from the ToolsFile.

Having in mind these three rules, the developers will be able to configure the editor in any way they did up until now.