Re: Auto fill for form fields

Scott E. Preece (
Thu, 15 Feb 1996 08:26:40 -0600

Date: Thu, 15 Feb 1996 08:26:40 -0600
From: (Scott E. Preece)
Message-Id: <>
In-Reply-To: Adam Jack's message of Thu, 15 Feb 1996 01:45:11 -0500
Subject: Re: Auto fill for form fields

 From: Adam Jack <>
| > The idea is to let the user agent fill in commonly requested personal
| > information so the user only has to type it once. This would be
| > accomplished with a new AUTOVALUE (or USERVALUE or AUTOFILL?)
| > attribute for the TEXTAREA tag and the INPUT tag (valid only in
| > conjunction with the TYPE=text attribute).

If you don't extend the standard to define names for the items that can
be auto-filled, how does the form author indicate to the browser which
auto-fill value goes in which slot?  Are you guessing based on the name
of the field and the surrounding text?  This sounds a little less
predictable than I would like, though I can imagine it would work
reasonably for a lot of common cases.

| > 
| Once you start predefining what can be set you limit the capabilities
| dramatically. What about those forms, say taxes, that you have to 
| fill out yearly. They are just as repetative. Any field should be
| able to be filled in. 
| I tried making my applet 'learn' from a filled in form. It would
| take the values I had entered and store them. I would then go in
| to fill in the final fields that I didn't want recorded. (A bit
| clunky .. but there you go.)

Just to take the tax example, your scheme works if the form slots are
labeled "name", "phone", etc., but fails if the slots are named "line3",
"line31", etc., since the semantics of the name might vary from year to
year.  The value on line31 this year might be on line 33 next year.
While IRS forms dont't actually work like that (the "personal data"
stuff not being on numbered lines), other forms do (the Federal college
financial aid application, for instance, numbers all its entries).

| As I said -- I don't think "autovalue" is required. A user agent
| can do just as good/bad a job without it.

I don't think you're wrong, but I do think it would be safer to
provide a base capability in the form of a set of defined names.
A user agent would still be free to implement a learning/guessing scheme
to augment that set.


scott preece
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