I've been waiting and (mostly) crying for two months now, has anyone a suggestion for this problem?
UPDATE: Almost another three months and still no reply. All the required information should be in my first post, if not please tell me what wrong with it...
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As far as the weird box character is concerned, I think you should be able to call e.preventDefault() and e.stopImmediatePropagation() in the keyDown handler to prevent the event from inserting a character in the TextArea. With regard to the flow in general, I think your setup is ok. In our application, we often allow both ctrl and cmd shortcuts for keys do the same thing on mac (e.g. cmd-n and ctrl-n will be the same action). Then on windows, since there is no command key, ctrl is the only option.
Personally, I find it cleaner to just put all the key checking / function calling in the keyDown handler and just separate the functionality for the actions (rather than using events and helper functions like you've done). I don't think either way is particularly better or worse though.
I pasted the character here and it seems to be 00-7F in unicode. I have tried the following methods on the keyDown, none of them worked: