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2.1.3 The Rich Text Letter Writer

V10.6 brings a word processor to Oscar and v12.1 allows for you to Sign and Fax!


Oscar provides a simple letter writer to provide neat and professional communications that can be populated automatically and get saved in a reusable format to the patients chart.  A tutorial on the rich text letter writer has been compiled by Dr Klein.  The Rich Text Letter writer is copyright by Peter Hutten-Czapski 2007-2010 © under the GNU Lesser General Public License version 2.1

Document Version History

  • v1.0 – initial public release on – June 26, 2010
  • v1.1 –added details for Signing and Faxing – Sept 7, 2012
  • v1.2 -added details for Measurements - Mar 31,2015
This document is copyright by Peter Hutten-Czapski 2010-2012 © under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License 


  1. Preface
    1. Document Version History
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Launching Letter
  4. The Text Area
  5. Toolbars
  6. Optional Buttons
  7. Quick Text
  8. Templates
  9. Finishing it off


It is assumed that you have
  1. A default Ubuntu/Tomcat6 based installation of OSCAR v 10.6 or later OR
  2. You have installed the requisite letter files in an older version of Oscar using the files and instructions on the Users Society Webpage
In both ON and BC Oscar12_1 installations the RTL may be incorporated as an archived eForm (aka deleted) from where they can be activated by un-archiving  (admin > eforms > List of deleted eforms > restore )

Launching Letter


Launching Letter

  1. Access either the Encounter or the Master Demographic, by example from the appointment schedule 'E' or 'M'
  2. Click on either the '+' on the eForm Encounter interface or the 'eForm' link on the Master Demographic
  3. Click the 'letter' link in the list of eForms in the Form Library

The Text Area


You can start using the Letter editor that you opened up above directly by typing into the (usually blank) text area.  On a basic level that is all you need to do.  For convenience the usual keyboard conventions are supported as pointed out in the help screen below:

Letter Keyboarding




Letter Toolbar


The toolbar also has many of the typical word processing functions.  The following buttons are available

  • bold toggle of the selected text (strong)
  • italic text toggle (emphasis)
  • underlined text toggle
  • strike through text toggle
  • subscript text toggle
  • superscript text toggle
  • left justify text toggle
  • center justify text
  • fully justify text
  • right justify text
  • bulleted list
  • ordered list
  • horizontal rule
  • a button that undoes the last action(s)
  • redo the last action(s)
  • undo the last action(s)
  • indent the text
  • outdent the text
  • selects all text
  • remove font formatting from all selected text
  • insert a table
  • insert an image
  • insert a link
  • alter the font colour
  • apply highlight colour
  • a selector for paragraph and header styles
  • a selector for font face
  • a selector for font size
  • a template selector
  • insert an image (TIP use ${oscar_image_path} for local images)
  • add the current time
  • add the current date
  • help button

Optional Buttons


The following buttons are not provided by default but can be easily activated if needed

by an advanced user or an Oscar Service Provider

  1. a button that inserts a heading (IF selector for paragraph and header styles is not available)
  2. a button that applies text colour
  3. a button that applies text high lighting colour
  4. a button that inserts a URL of a link
  5. a button that invokes a spell checker for IE (superfluous in Firefox and other spelling enabled browsers)
  6. a button that cuts the selected text for IE
  7. a button that copies to windows clipboard for IE
  8. a button that pastes from the windows clipboard for IE


Quick Text


Letter Quicktext


 Default blocks of text taken from the patients chart can be inserted with the Quick Text buttons.  Clicking a button will insert that particular block of text at the point selected in the writing pane.   Letterhead by example will insert a formatted letterhead, similar to that of McMaster Hospital in the sample.  The information for the text is drawn from the database for that patient, physician and clinic.




Templates allow form letters to be quickly loaded with the patient's data for easy customization in conjunction with quick text and the toolbar functions.  The consult template is demonstrated in the writing pane of the above Quick Text illustration.  The back to work template is demonstrated below.

  1. First select the template
  2. The template with its placeholders gets loaded
  3. The letter writer prompts you for user defined placeholders
Loading a Template


Not shown is that when you supply the information requested all the exhibited placeholders get converted into their respective values.

Predefined templates include

  • consult
  • off work note
  • narcotic contract
  • missed appointment
  • custom template

All templates are accessible in Admin > Upload an Image >

New templates are written in HTML with Komposer Notepad+ or Textwrangler or similar and saved with the .rtf extension.  You then upload to your Oscar server to the images folder.

The custom template is located in Admin > Upload an Image > custom.html or custom.rtl and gives you examples.

It can be customized along the directions printed on it to make ones own templates, and detailed on the last part of the tutorial


Using Measurements in Placeholders

The normal placeholders are delimited by ##'s (eg. ##current_user_cpsid##). The list of standard placeholder names can be found on the eForm Magic page. 

What about Measurements? Unfortunately, you can't just use the standard oscarDB measurement tag (oscarDB=m$HT#value ) as a placeholder name.

In order to bring a measurement into the Rich Text Letter eform, you have to load them into temporary variables BEFORE your template is loaded.

You do this by adding a hidden field for each measurement in the RTL eForm code. This line:

<input type="hidden" name="EPW"   id="EPW"  oscarDB=m$EPW#value>

is added to the 'DoNotPrint' section in the top of the <body> section. It creates a hidden field called EPW with the latest Epworth score.  You need to define all the measurements this way. 

Once that is done, your RTL template placeholder name would be ##EPW##.  



Custom Letter Template


 Finishing it off


HTML view

Finishing off the letter is the bottom bar that provides some additional controls. 

  • The HTML view allows you to view (and edit GULP!) the raw output of Letter
  • If you can't get your output to look perfect this is where you can tweak

Letter HTML

  • the Use CSS check box alters how the program encodes the page. 
  • The Subject is what the tool tip comment shows when the mouse is hovered over it a list of saved eForms
  • Submit saves the letter
  • Reset clears the contents of the letter
  • Print invokes the print dialog
  • Print & Save is a one button way to do both printing and saving


The signing box below the form will allow for you to sign by mouse or trackpad or other device and that will be transferred when saved into the insertion point in the Rich Text letter

12_1 RTL


Faxing is done from a picklist of providers.  Select the provider and click add provider and that provider will be added to the fax distribution list.  Alternately manually insert a fax number into the list

When finished click "submit and fax" and the signed letter will be delivered to your adresse's


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