W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-forms@w3.org > July 2003

RE: XForms and multi-line text entry

From: Daniel Fowler <daniel.fowler@focus-solutions.co.uk>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 19:07:17 +0100
Message-ID: <30A02A46CB77D511851900508BAEADBCD1F4C6@exchange.focus-internal.co.uk>
To: www-forms@w3.org

It would also be good to get consistency of keystrokes between different
XForms processors.

For example, in one processor the tab key moves you forward through the
controls. In another the tab key does the same until you enter a textarea
control, at which point it enters tabs in the textarea and you need to press
cntrl-tab to move forward again. (In the first processor it is not possible
to enter tabs in the text area control.)

Another example. In one processor the input control updates the model when
the user tabs away. In another processor the same happens but you can also
update the model my pressing the enter key and remain within the control.

It would be good for usability to define a base behaviour for keyboard
actions. If only to defined consistent keyboard handling for accessiblity

Daniel Fowler
Solutions Architect

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Raggett [mailto:dsr@w3.org]
Sent: 16 July 2003 09:28
To: steven@w3.org
Cc: www-forms@w3.org
Subject: XForms and multi-line text entry

Is there anything that can be done to improve the usability of
multi-line text entry for XForms?

When typing into a multi-line text field, it is hard for users to
know what the significance the Enter key has. In some cases the
assumption is like a word processor, Enter is used to start a new
paragraph and text will be wrapped to fit the appropriate margins.
On other cases, the text will be kept as typed and it is important
to use the Enter key regularly to avoid very long lines that run
straight off the right handside of the page/window.

The text input controls don't give you any visual clues as to
whether a line break was due to you hitting the Enter key or the
result of a line wrapping operation by the input control.

If you are used to regularly hitting the Enter key to limit line
length, and the forms processor is using the word processor
model, the you are unknowlingly splitting your text up into lots
of paragraphs. If the forms processor keeps the text as typed,
you are later faced with very long lines and being stuck with
lots of horizontal scrolling.

My feeling is that the text input control needs to know and
implement the appropriate assumption. This is beyond what can
be expressed with XML Schema, and is more than styling, and as
such seems like something that XForms should be able to express
as an XForms annotation.

My suggestion would be to allow for the following cases:

a) Whitespace characters are passed to the forms processor
   exactly as entered, leaving the semantics of whitespace
   entirely up to the forms processor, with all the usability
   problems that entails.

b) Enter starts a new paragraph and text will be wrapped within
   paragraphs as needed for display purposes. (Word processor model)

c) What you see is what you get - the Enter key inserts a hard
   line break, as does wrapping by the text input control.

d) Like (c) except auto-wrapping is off, so that all line breaks
   must be made explicit by hitting the Enter key

I have a further suggestion, which is to allow application authors
the ability to control whether a multiline text input control grows
in height to accomodate the text it contains, or whether it clips
and offers some means of scrolling through its contents.

I believe that this is a matter of applying the appropriate CSS
property, and will involve some coordination with the CSS working

Text input areas that grow as you type are a nice feature
since users are in control of what they see and aren't subject
to the imposition by authors of a fixed display area that
limits the number of lines visible. In other words, users can
glance up and see what they typed without being required to
scroll through the text within the text input control.

 Dave Raggett <dsr@w3.org>  W3C lead for voice and multimodal.
 http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett +44 1225 866240 (or 867351)
Received on Thursday, 17 July 2003 14:06:39 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 6 January 2015 21:36:08 UTC