HTML 3.2 PR TEXTAREA WRAP attribute

Kevin 'Kev' Hughes (kevinh@eit.com)
Mon, 11 Nov 1996 15:58:46 -0800 (PST)


Date: Mon, 11 Nov 1996 15:58:46 -0800 (PST)
From: "Kevin 'Kev' Hughes" <kevinh@eit.com>
Message-Id: <199611112358.PAA08198@eit.com>
To: www-html@w3.org
Subject: HTML 3.2 PR TEXTAREA WRAP attribute


	As a practicing Web developer, I would like to suggest that the
TEXTAREA WRAP attribute be (re)considered.

	A few months ago, the WRAP attribute was an HTML extension
(I've forgotten its origin), but it was just popular enough that a
number of HTML 2.0-centric books mentioned it. One book in particular
is "HTML: The Definitive Guide" (Musciano/Kennedy, O'Reilly, 1996)

	Here's how it works:

	<TEXTAREA NAME="foo" ROWS=4 COLS=40 WRAP=OFF>

	Carriage returns and line feeds entered by the user are ignored
and one line of text is sent to the server. No automatic wrapping is done,
so the user must scroll horizontally to see lines that extend past the
specified column width.

	<TEXTAREA NAME="foo" ROWS=4 COLS=40 WRAP=VIRTUAL>

	Carriage returns and line feeds entered by the user are mirrored
on the screen, but only one line of text is sent to the server with the
return characters stripped out. Automatic wrapping as the user enters
text is performed.

	<TEXTAREA NAME="foo" ROWS=4 COLS=40 WRAP=PHYSICAL>

	Carriage returns and line feeds entered by the user are mirrored
on the screen, and all characters the user enters are sent to the server.
In addition, automatic word wrapping is performed and CR/LFs are sent
where the user agent wraps the text.

	At http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/TR/PR-html32-961105, the HTML 3.2
proposal says:

	"... Users should be able to enter longer lines that this, so
	user agents should provide some means to scroll through the
	contents of the textarea field when the contents extend beyond
	the visible area. User agents may wrap visible text lines to
	keep long lines visible without the need for scrolling."

	In short, HTML 3.2 leaves it up to the *user agent* to wrap text
lines. I believe that the *form's author* should be able to specify
how the text is wrapped and sent to the server.

	Why is this useful?

	* It is necessary for forms that expect input for traditional
	  email applications.

	  Most email today is wrapped to 80 columns or less. If users
	  can only input messages as one line or messages that are wrapped
	  in ways they do not expect, this renders certain kinds of email
	  content that depend on line breaks unusable - things such as
	  signatures, ASCII art, code examples, and formatting with
	  tabs and spaces.

	* It is necessary for applications that require line breaks
	  within input.

	  Programs that need preserved line breaks within data are
	  things like:

	  - Email utility software with HTML interfaces
	  - Utilities that take form inputs and place the input within
	    PostScript and PDF form templates
	  - Utilities that expect multiple variables on separate lines

	The WRAP attribute makes it easier for users, in terms of good
interface, as well as for CGI and server-end programmers. The current
HTML 3.2 spec does not provide for any standard wrapping scheme, so it
is likely that implementations of TEXTAREA within different browsers
will send the same input to the server each in its own way, making it
a headache for programmers who wish to process forms using TEXTAREA.
	I suggest that the WRAP attribute be considered or a
suitable alternate scheme be implemented, if such a thing does not
already exist.
	Thanks,

	-- Kevin

--
Kevin Hughes * kevinh@eit.com * http://www.eit.com/~kevinh/
Hypermedia Industrial Designer * VeriFone Internet Commerce * icd.verifone.com
Duty now for the future!