Decorators

Inline and block styles aren't the only kind of rich styling that we might want to add to our editor. The Facebook comment input, for example, provides blue background highlights for mentions and hashtags.

To support flexibility for custom rich text, Draft provides a "decorator" system. The tweet example offers a live example of decorators in action.

CompositeDecorator #

The decorator concept is based on scanning the contents of a given ContentBlock for ranges of text that match a defined strategy, then rendering them with a specified React component.

You can use the CompositeDecorator class to define your desired decorator behavior. This class allows you to supply multiple DraftDecorator objects, and will search through a block of text with each strategy in turn.

Decorators are stored within the EditorState record. When creating a new EditorState object, e.g. via EditorState.createEmpty(), a decorator may optionally be provided.

Under the hood

When contents change in a Draft editor, the resulting EditorState object will evaluate the new ContentState with its decorator, and identify ranges to be decorated. A complete tree of blocks, decorators, and inline styles is formed at this time, and serves as the basis for our rendered output.

In this way, we always ensure that as contents change, rendered decorations are in sync with our EditorState.

In the "Tweet" editor example, for instance, we use a CompositeDecorator that searches for @-handle strings as well as hashtag strings:

const compositeDecorator = new CompositeDecorator([
  {
    strategy: handleStrategy,
    component: HandleSpan,
  },
  {
    strategy: hashtagStrategy,
    component: HashtagSpan,
  },
]);

This composite decorator will first scan a given block of text for @-handle matches, then for hashtag matches.

// Note: these aren't very good regexes, don't use them!
const HANDLE_REGEX = /\@[\w]+/g;
const HASHTAG_REGEX = /\#[\w\u0590-\u05ff]+/g;

function handleStrategy(contentBlock, callback, contentState) {
  findWithRegex(HANDLE_REGEX, contentBlock, callback);
}

function hashtagStrategy(contentBlock, callback, contentState) {
  findWithRegex(HASHTAG_REGEX, contentBlock, callback);
}

function findWithRegex(regex, contentBlock, callback) {
  const text = contentBlock.getText();
  let matchArr, start;
  while ((matchArr = regex.exec(text)) !== null) {
    start = matchArr.index;
    callback(start, start + matchArr[0].length);
  }
}

The strategy functions execute the provided callback with the start and end values of the matching range of text.

Decorator Components #

For your decorated ranges of text, you must define a React component to use to render them. These tend to be simple span elements with CSS classes or styles applied to them.

In our current example, the CompositeDecorator object names HandleSpan and HashtagSpan as the components to use for decoration. These are just basic stateless components:

const HandleSpan = (props) => {
  return <span {...props} style={styles.handle}>{props.children}</span>;
};

const HashtagSpan = (props) => {
  return <span {...props} style={styles.hashtag}>{props.children}</span>;
};

Note that props.children is passed through to the rendered output. This is done to ensure that the text is rendered within the decorated span.

You can use the same approach for links, as demonstrated in our link example.

Beyond CompositeDecorator #

The decorator object supplied to an EditorState need only match the expectations of the DraftDecoratorType Flow type definition, which means that you can create any decorator classes you wish, as long as they match the expected type -- you are not bound by CompositeDecorator.

Setting new decorators #

Further, it is acceptable to set a new decorator value on the EditorState on the fly, during normal state propagation -- through immutable means, of course.

This means that during your app workflow, if your decorator becomes invalid or requires a modification, you can create a new decorator object (or use null to remove all decorations) and EditorState.set() to make use of the new decorator setting.

For example, if for some reason we wished to disable the creation of @-handle decorations while the user interacts with the editor, it would be fine to do the following:

function turnOffHandleDecorations(editorState) {
  const onlyHashtags = new CompositeDecorator([{
    strategy: hashtagStrategy,
    component: HashtagSpan,
  }]);
  return EditorState.set(editorState, {decorator: onlyHashtags});
}

The ContentState for this editorState will be re-evaluated with the new decorator, and @-handle decorations will no longer be present in the next render pass.

Again, this remains memory-efficient due to data persistence across immutable objects.