Re: Automatic Entry and Forms

Dan Delaney (dgdela01@homer.louisville.edu)
Fri, 23 Feb 1996 12:39:42 -0500 (EST)


Date: Fri, 23 Feb 1996 12:39:42 -0500 (EST)
From: Dan Delaney <dgdela01@homer.louisville.edu>
To: www-html@w3.org
Subject: Re: Automatic Entry and Forms
In-Reply-To: <199602231621.IAA14129@athena>
Message-Id: <Pine.OSF.3.91.960223121018.3649C-100000@homer.louisville.edu>

On Fri, 23 Feb 1996, Mary Holstege wrote:
> those of us on the more paranoid side are instead imagining forms such as this
>     <form action="/cgi-bin/laughing-all-the-way-to-bank">
>         <input type="hidden" name="social-security-number">
>         <input type="hidden" name="date-of-birth">
>         <input type="hidden" name="visa-number">
>         <input type="hidden" name="visa-expiration">

Understood and agreed. However, that is not what this is about. It 
is not about servers being able to grab your information without you 
wanting it to have it. None of us want that, and we should keep that kind 
of thing from becoming a part of HTML. What we do want is this:
   Say I fill in simple forms which ask for my name and email address A LOT 
(say several times a day). I want my browser to be able to recognize that 
a particular field is asking for those two things and automatically 
insert into them the values which I supplied in the preferences of the 
browser. How is the browser to know when a field is asking for my name or 
email address?
>     <input type="text" name="email">
>     <input type="text" name="first-name">
>     <input type="text" name="last-name">

Exactly! Very simple. Giving the field a name has nothing to do with the 
server being able to grab your information without you wanting to send 
it. a server can only request the info. If the browser is set to NOT GIVE 
IT, then it can't get it. If you don't want particular pieces of 
information to be automatically filled in by your browser, just don't 
type that information into your browser's preferences; then it will have 
nothing to fill in. The browser can even have an option to turn this 
feature on or off. It's the browser that GIVES the information, NOT the 
server that GRABS it.

> Automatically filling in hidden fields is a pretty lousy idea.  Automatically
> filling in non-hidden fields is a less lousy idea

   Agreed. We could make it so that hidden fields CANNOT be automatically 
filled in, as Alexei Kosut suggested.

> Or there is some "personal information" preferences page in which you fill in
> a few standardized fields?  This is naive. I have written a lot of programs of
> one sort and another...and not one uses
> the same set of fields.  Throw in an international environment and all bets are
> off.  When I've designed fill-in forms for our customers, they almost always
> want specialized drop down menus for some of these fields -- how does that fit
> into this model if the predefined value doesn't match the menu values?

   You're making it much more complicated than it needs to be. All anyone 
is asking for is that we have a few common things which are always needed 
in forms to be saved in our preferences so that we won't have to type 
them in every time. As Murray Altheim pointed out, this doesn't have to 
be a huge system covering all possibilities. We don't need hundreds of 
them. Just a few that are the most common.


> I'm just not convinced that retyping in some information once every couple of
> weeks or so is worth all this.

   For you 'every couple of weeks', for other people, several times a day. 
Just depends on the kind of work you do.


 --Dan

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