Re: Auto fill for form fields

Scott E. Preece (
Thu, 15 Feb 1996 11:52:04 -0600

Date: Thu, 15 Feb 1996 11:52:04 -0600
From: (Scott E. Preece)
Message-Id: <>
In-Reply-To: Adam Jack's message of Thu, 15 Feb 1996 12:33:36 -0500
Subject: Re: Auto fill for form fields

   From: Adam Jack <>
|   Scott E. Preece wrote:
|   > 
|   > 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? 
|   IMHO it is the User Agent that should make this choice. It is a lot
|   closer to the user who has, or has not, configured a value for that
|   purpose of a per "field" basis. Placing the control in the hands of
|   the form provider is restrictive.

Again, I think it's clever for the user agent to make such guesses (it's
startling that there are so few instances of user tools that watch and
learn).  It clearly addresses cases that could not be anticipated and
would be very helpful to many users.

On the other hand, I suspect that defining the small set of
data values that the original proposal suggested would probably cover
the vast bulk of autofill-able values, and that it would be convenient
to allow authors to make that indication in one, predictable, way.

|   ...
|   > 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.
|   Good point. How would you suggest this were done with "autovalue"?
|   I guess a mapping would need to be made to "phone" etc. If this is
|   the case then all we are talking about is that I am overloading
|   the "NAME" tag. 

I would suggest that the field would have an attribute like:
where the percent-sign indicates the browser should substitute the text
of a defined variable.  I *think* that this syntax actually is SGML for
doing an entity replacement and that the simplest way to do this would
be to define a set of SGML entities that the browser should define from
the user environment.  Of course, this wouldn't actually work with
current browsers that fail to do SGML entities, but it might be a prod
in that (healthy!) direction.  [I apologize if my understanding of SGML
entities is erroneous - it's from memory of something I've only read

|   I will admit -- making a new TAG, say "AUTOVALUE" and defining a
|   set of values seems cleanest. Unfortunately I think it will miss
|   its target purpose and not be manageable. I am sorry if I am
|   arguing through pessimism however I believe that is a fair arguement 
|   in this case. This is a world where proprietary extensions, such
|   as netscape's, thrive and clean standards, such as X.400, flounder.

There's mixed evidence.  If it's in the standard, there's a reasonable
chance, at least, that if some vendors go in that direction, they
will do it the same way.


scott preece
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