Microsoft & .NETVisual BasicReview of TX Text Control

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One of the most pleasing tasks for newbie programmers is the creation of a miniature word processor.

But if your user demands anything beyond the capabilities of a basic Text Box—say, they’re being all picky and wanting to bold a particular word, damn them—then you’re up a certain creek without a certain implement.

Here to help is TX Text Control, a widget that claims it can add the capabilities of top word processors to your application—in minutes.

Let’s see how it got on…

Installation of TX Text Control was a doddle, taking up around 6MB of hard disk space. Getting started with the product wasn’t all that difficult either.

Despite shipping with a definitive lack of physical documentation—none, actually—the main help file was actually quite useful, despite the fact that none of the help file buttons worked consistently.

Still, if you’re not wanting to go backwards, forward, revisit the index or print the topic, you shouldn’t hit any problems.

However the help file did include one brilliant topic on getting your own mini word processor up-and-running within a matter of minutes. And that’s no lie.

One interesting point to consider here is the TX Text Control package isn’t just one control. It consists of the TX Text Control, which looks like a plain ol’ Text Box, plus three extra controls—one displaying a Toolbar, the other a Status Bar, and the third a Ruler.

The good thing here—as I learned when building this mini word processor – is you can position each as you wish, then very simply link them up to create a fully-functional program.

By this point, I was impressed. But there’s more to come—and not all of it good.

Whilst first working with the control, I came up with a list of small yet annoying grumblings; for a start, if you double-click on a word in a regular Text Box, it’s instantly selected. With the TX Text Control, there’s a short, unprofessional delay. I also found an ‘issue’ in selecting lines of text—it didn’t always adhere to the workings of the standard Text Box. Dragging and dropping was also impossible without a ton of pain-in-the-proverbial code. Still, these were small niggles and nothing to put me off big time. Yet.

A further fiddle with the control found that it supported a wide variety of file formats. Great—you can apparently open and save in it’s own native file format, Rich Text Format (RTF), HTML, Microsoft Word and standard text. You can even create your own format if you so desire.

So, time for the test. I used the very simple Load method to access my CV, here on my beast of a computer.

Well, it got as far as a few words on page one. In Word, the remaining page and three-quarters contain a whole bunch of text-in-frames. Grumble number two; the Word filter doesn’t support frames (though apparently files created in TX Text Control allow them).

Still, undeterred, I tried yet another file—this one a company report containing images, tables and a whole load of formatted text. It worked, no problemo.

Thankfully, this product does have a number of saving graces. For a start, it bundles a couple of less popular features—such as inserting Combo Boxes into the flow of text or allowing for a fairly simple mail merge. Basic Headers and Footers are also supported, plus it’s worth noting that the TX Text Control is multi-lingual and ships with a ready-to-run American English spell checker, activated in one fall-swoop or by underlining incorrect words as they’re typed.

Printing, one of the biggies for any word processing application is also a complete doddle. The ease of use here is quite phenomenal and the product merges graciously with the Printer object. Everything seems to work jolly fast.

But I’m still left with the general feeling that I’m working with a cut-down version of Microsoft Word, a control attempting to duplicate popular functionality in a bid to cash in on the programming boom.

And unless you need to build an integrated word processing interface, you might find automating Word to be an altogether easier and cheaper option. Even if you do need that ‘something extra’, you might want to try mixing both the RichTextBox control and a little creative programming in a bid to save those precious pennies.

But nonetheless, if you are looking to knock up a personalised word processor—and quick—the lightweight TX Text Control has the power.

Summary: A few annoying issues, but if you have a true use for this control, it could turn out to be a lifesaver.

You can download a demo of TX Text Control from

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