Re: Enhancements to Forms - another loss??

Chuck D'Antonio (
Tue, 11 Feb 1997 10:47:58 -0400

Message-Id: <v03101501af26335abb43@[]>
In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 1997 10:47:58 -0400
From: "Chuck D'Antonio" <>
Subject: Re: Enhancements to Forms - another loss??


I'd suggest working these into the CSS framework rather than extending
the space of form tags to include specific interface widgets.  This is
partly an impulsive reaction since I'm strongly in the "HTML is not a
presentation" language camp; it is also an idea I've been tossing about
in my head since I read the CSS-1 recommendation from W3.

When I think of what HTML forms lack for generic interface development
my first thought is "validation" and then I think about widgets that'd
be great to have.  It's interesting that you think of them as needed
less than other widgets, though I guess it makes sense since sliders
and dials, etc. can perform some rudimentary validation and the leading
browser vendors have given us scripting languages that let us handle
validation on the client-side.

I'd be interested in writing up a set of CSS-1 properties for form
elements to include validation expressions, presentational qualities,
etc.  It might also require adding a tag or three or modifying the
attributes to the existing tags for forms.  This seems preferable in
my eyes to adding many more tags HTML.

I don't know where members of the W3 are in terms of developing more
robust forms cababilities for web applications, but I'd think we could
get something going from the outside that might make a lot of sense to
them.  Let's give it a shot.


>I recall back around the time of HTML 3.0 there was some
>discussion of enhancing the FORM interface.  Has this now
>been completely abandoned?  Is Java/applets the culprit?
>If so, then it would be a great shame.  From some experience
>programming server side applications using forms/cgi I feel
>that this method still has a lot of legs, given a few generic
>enhancements to forms.  And it looks like there are a
>lot of others out there that could use some help.
>In particular I'm thinking of
>1.  cascading/nested/pull-right menus - to handle those
>long lists of choices in a more structured way;
>2.  sliders and dials - to allow selection of a numeric value
>from a range;
>3.  multi-click imagemaps - to allow selection of a line or
>area as well as points;
>[4.  some client-side validity testing?  maybe less immediate,
>but ...]
>In the current w3c statement of plans there is reference to the
>intention to bring the forms interface up to generic dbms form
>standards, but I guess there has not been much push in this direction.
>The html-forms syntax is a reasonable GUI builder which can
>be more easily built in to documents than applets, should be
>easily supportable by the browsers.  If these enhancements are
>not made part of the standard, then I see them being repeatedly
>implemented anyway by applet authors, so why not hand it to the
>I'm mindful of Dan's admonition to back up this kind of
>proposal with formal Internat Drafts or DTD's, and I might
>be interested in cutting my teeth on such a project, but
>first I'd like to gauge interest.
>I've tried to check in the archives for discussion on this issue,
>but the web version seems to stop about a year ago, and the list
>version is fairly impenetrable (to me).  I used to subscribe to
>the digest version of this list but that also died.  I've also
>tried posting to comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html but there
>is so much noise on that group that it is difficult to get a
>discussion like this started - and maybe its the wrong forum anyway.
>Of course, maybe there just isn't any real interest in this out there!?
>Dr Simon Cox - Australian Geodynamics Cooperative Research Centre
>CSIRO Exploration & Mining, PO Box 437, Nedlands, WA 6009 Australia
>T:  +61 9 389 8421   F:  +61 9 389 1906

Chuck D'Antonio
Programmer & Network Support Specialist
FAS Administrative Computing
Harvard University