HTML TextBlock

On the web, HTML is king. So when we create applications on the Windows Phone 7 that presents content from the web, we are bound to run into the HTML obstacle.

In this post I will dig into the ways in wich you can present HTML on the Windows Phone 7 and offer you an alternative.

Consider the HTML version of my previous post;

 <p>So it has come to this, I’ve started a blog. Let me start off by introducing myself;</p> <p>I am Matthijs Krempel a part time Windows Phone 7 developer, full time .Net developer and life time father of two boys.</p> <p>With this blog I want to share the challenges and solutions of my development journeys on the Windows Phone 7 platform. The last year I have been developing the <a title=”Channel9 Client for Windows Phone 7″ href=”” target=”_blank”>Channel9 Client for Windows Phone 7</a> and have developed some solutions to challenges that I think and hope you will find interesting.</p> <p>I will host all code on <a title=”Krempel’s codeplex project” href=””>codeplex </a>and link to it from here. In my next post I will go into details about the HTML Textblock.</p> <br />

The good, the bad and the ugly

Say you want to use this content in an Windows Phone 7 application. A solution is to use the standard WebBrowser control.

You can navigate to HTML from an URI or from a string. Let’s Navigate to this HTML from string, this is what the end result looks like;

It’s a start, with some additional Html formatting (solution via Ben Geek);

That’s more like it! We can now present any HTML in the native style of the phone! However, it’s not all dandy.

The huge drawback in using the webbrowser control is that it handles gestures for it’s internal scrolling and zooming. This means that if you host this control in a scrollable region, it will capture the gestures and not scroll the parent container. There are solutions in wich you can disable vertical or horizontal scrolling by drilling into the Visual Tree, but the gesture will still not availible outside the webbrowser control. The user will not be able to navigate. The tradeoff could be that you can use the webbrowser control in a standalone page, like many news readers do.

So, you are limited in your options for using the webbrowser control to present HTML content, if you are not willing to sacrifice usability.

The alternative

With Windows Phone 7.1 (Mango) a new control was added to the standard library; the RichTextBox. The RichTextBox enables us to present (a subset of) flowdocument elements, natively.

Only three obstacles left to conquer;

  1. We have HTML and we would like RichTextBox XAML
  2. Length of the XAML must not exceed 1500 (or so) characters
  3. Height of the RichTextBox must be smaller then 2000 pixels (2000×2000 is the maximum size of any Windows Phone 7 visual element)

HTML Agility Pack

I’ve solved the first problem by using the HTML Agility Pack. There is a Windows Phone 7 version availible on codeplex, download the source, open the Trunk/HAPPhone.7.1 solution, add reference to System.Xml.XPath from the Silverlight 4.0 SDK, remove build scripts and compile!  Now we have a effiecient way of navigating trough the HTML, all we have to do is translate the HTML to XAML objects. That solves obstacle 1.

We are left with two obstacles, 2 and 3. Wich we can solve quite easily. Instead of trying to create one huge RichTextBox with all the HTML in it, we create a whole host of RichTextBoxes. What I’ve done in the solution is to make a RichTextBox per paragraph. As long as the author of the comment or article refrains from using lenghty texts, we will be fine.

The end result looks something like;

You can host this HTMLTextBlock in any kind of scrollable container and the gestures work!

Source code and this example is available here!

The main goal of this control is to render the kind of HTML seen in blogs and comments, it’s not ment as a full blown browser, if you want those kinds of features fallback to the webbrowser control.


New version is availible here!


~ by Matthijs Krempel on March 5, 2012.

58 Responses to “HTML TextBlock”

  1. Your control is awesome!
    Please add it in NuGet, because there are some difficulties with building it 🙂

  2. Few more questions:
    1. How to work with links?
    2. How to customise link color, f.e.?

  3. Hi Panfilov,
    Thank you for you suggestions!
    Will add it to NuGet when I get the chance.
    I will add a event and a command property to handle Navigation requests and a style for custom link colors (wich will be defaulted to the PhoneAccentColor).

  4. With links and colors everything is easy:

    Hyperlink hyperlink = new Hyperlink();
    hyperlink.Foreground = new SolidColorBrush(Colors.Blue);
    hyperlink.NavigateUri = new Uri(node.Attributes[“href”].Value, UriKind.Absolute);
    hyperlink.TargetName = “_blank”;

    in AppendHyperlink method.
    In Foreground you can use not brush, but Resources[“PhoneAccentBrush”] (I don’t remember for sure 🙂

    But with image size I still didn’t solve problem 😦

  5. I have something strange with links: they are not on the same line with previous text, but in html there is no tags between them 😦

    • are you in control of the html? if yes, place them in a paragraph if no, adapt the control to not span across multiple richtextboxes, if still no send me the html at matthijsDOTkrempelAThotmailDOTcom

  6. Congrats on the Hot Apps review!

  7. Hi, you made a good job!
    But how to implement bold?

    • Bold is done by the control, by giving the Run element a FontWeight of bold;

      private void AppendBold(HtmlNode node, Paragraph paragraph, Span span)
      Run run = new Run();
      run.FontWeight = FontWeights.Bold;

      if (span != null)
      else if (paragraph != null)

      AppendChildren(node, paragraph, span);

      It adds this on the ‘b’ or ‘strong’ element.

      • Hi the “b” or “strong” tag doesn’t seem to work. Even with the

        private void AppendBold(HtmlNode node, Paragraph paragraph, Span span)
        Run run = new Run();
        run.FontWeight = FontWeights.Bold;
        if (run.FontFamily != this.FontFamily)
        run.FontFamily = this.FontFamily;

        if (run.FontSize != this.FontSize)
        run.FontSize = this.FontSize;

        if (run.FontStretch != this.FontStretch)
        run.FontStretch = this.FontStretch;

        if (run.FontStyle != this.FontStyle)
        run.FontStyle = this.FontStyle;

        if (run.Foreground != this.Foreground)
        run.Foreground = this.Foreground;

        if (span != null)
        else if (paragraph != null)

        AppendChildren(node, paragraph, span);

        my html goes like this This text is suppose to be bold

  8. Thanks for your answer!
    I have another question, it seems that FontSize doesn’t work. Do you have the same problem?

  9. And this is the same with FontFamily

  10. Hi,

    I use it like this:



  11. (sorry it didn’t appear correctly)

  12. k r e m p e l : H t m l T e x t B l o c k x : N a m e = ” t b x R e s p o n s e 1 ” M a r g i n = ” – 1 2 , 0 ” F o n t F a m i l y = ” S e g o e W P S e m i L i g h t ” F o n t S i z e = ” 3 2 “

  13. Thank a lot!

  14. Thanks a lot for this code!

    Seems I have the following issue, if you have html code like the following, the code is treated like one block due to the and the paragraphs are not split in separate blocks:

  15. Thanks a lot for this code!
    Seems I have the following issue, if you have html code like the following, the code is treated like one block due to the and the paragraphs are not split in separate blocks:

    html code not showing in previous comment:

    <div <p </p <p </p </div

  16. Hi, Maybe the previous comment was not correct and the error might be something else.

    I include a link to a zip file containing html source, so you can test this datacontext yourself and see what is happening with the <div

    Another thing I noticed was that if you have a paragraph with a link inside it, it will split the paragraph in three pieces, text-link-text, but it will not pass anymore the case "p": in AppendFromHtml, so it looks like it doesn't notice that there is a new paragraph. Maybe this is the bug for my previous comment

    Link to zipped text file containing datacontext html:

    • Hi Rob, I will look into it. There are many many ways of doing things in HTML, so if you want full HTML support you should use the webbrowser component. This control has limited HTML support, it’s ment for blogpostings and comments.

      Btw; do you still have problems playing back videos in the Channel9 app? I tried to contact you via twitter, but got no response.

      • Hoi Matthijs, the htmltext component is just fine, the webbrowser might be too heavy for just showing some text, want to keep memory usage to the minimum. Willl try again the channel9.. Downloaded again, yes is wworking now 🙂

      • mooi! mag ik je motiveren om je review te veranderen? 😉

  17. That’s a pretty cool little control, well done. Got one small question tho. I set the hyperlink’s foreground to green and have a white background. After clicking on the hyperlink and clicking on the physical back button I am back in my app and the color of the hyperlink is also white. It looks like the “pressed” state (or how else to call it..) is white? Any way to change this?

    This also occurs when you keep your finger tabbed (it changes to white) and scroll (it changes back to, in my case, green).

    Any ideas how I can fix this?

  18. Hi,
    How to change the foreground color in htmlTextBlock?

  19. Your control is great. I have a problem with embedding custom font in your control. When my html code is something like this “this is a sample para” , control shows it as “this is a para”. Could you help me fixing that.

  20. nice work. but the source code from your codeplex page, richtexblock is showing an error. and not executing. can you check on that

  21. Is this compatible with the Windows Phone 8 SDK ?

  22. Hey there. How exactly does hyperlink handling work with this control? I’ve got the control working beautifully for my needs, except I can’t get it to follow any links. Basically, I want to make the link open in an actual web browser app. Is there an event that fires off that I could handle?

    • Well I must be blind. Here is an example for people scratching their head about the same question. I’m new to Windows Phone – been on iPhone for 6 years. This is what happens when you get used to an inferior SDK (iOS), haha!

      Here’s the example: 🙂

      void htmlTextBlock_NavigationEventHandler(object sender, System.Windows.Navigation.NavigationEventArgs args)
      if (args.Content is Hyperlink)
      Hyperlink link = args.Content as Hyperlink;
      MessageBox.Show(“clicked a link: ” + link.CommandParameter.ToString());

      myHtmlTextBlock.NavigationRequested += htmlTextBlock_NavigationEventHandler;

  23. This is insanely useful, thanks so much for sharing. I needed to display 20 different blocks of HTML content in a ListBox and using a bunch of WebBrowser controls was a bit painful, especially given that I had to use JavaScript hacks to set the height of the controls to match my content. HTML TextBlock saved a lot of my sanity!

  24. Thank you for all your comments and suggestions.
    As I am currently swamped with my daytime job, you will have to forgive the lack of updates.
    When I get some more time, I will work on an update for 7.8 and 8.0.

  25. Hi, what’s the status of the 8.0 update? i need this control for my app =(

  26. finally found this only to realize it doesn’t work on wp8 😦

  27. Hi, Looking for this control in WP8. Please update.

  28. Hi,

    I’ve updated the library to support Windows Phone 8.

  29. Hi!
    I have a Windows Phone 8 application projects. Just like Channel 9 client app. Is Youtube video in html code. What should I do to show it?

    And, and, and…

    Also as photos in the links, only the picture shows. Touching on the image link should go. Urgent help me. Please!

  30. Hi,
    Has the windows 8 version been added to nuget yet? I would really like to use it.

  31. How to add Binding element inside HtmlTextBlock control
    I Have installed Krempel in my solution via project manager console and getting the HtmlTextBlock control by the namspace.
    Please reply me fast. its Urgent

  32. Hi, Looking for this control in Windows phone 8. Please update. –> Page not found


  33. 日本は、これはホラーで売るのかな?。 クロムハーツ チェーンネックレス

  34. Whoa….such a handy site.|

  35. that’s good, thanks for sharing,.. I think this is great blog

  36. can we present strike through using this control ??

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