W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > February 1996

Re: Auto fill for form fields

From: Adam Jack <ajack@corp.micrognosis.com>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 1996 01:45:11 -0500
Message-Id: <3122D677.7584@corp.micrognosis.com>
To: Jim Taylor <JHTaylor@videodiscovery.com>
Cc: www-html@w3.org
Jim Taylor wrote:

> Since no one has shot me down (yet), here's a more detailed
> presentation.
Sorry, I missed your earlier postings. I will respond to this one

Let me start by saying I thingk this is a good idea. Last September
I wrote a Java Alpha0.3 applet for the HotJava browser to do just that.
-- with any form. (Unfortunately the applet doesn't translate to the
new Netscape/Beta way of the world.)

> 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).
Why add to the standard? The approach I took was to let the user 
agent attempt to fill in anything it thought it could answer. It
would also attempt it for selections etc, not just text.

Yes -- there is possibility of filling in a field by mistake -- however
the benefits in simplicity make it worth the risk. IMHO.

> Values for the attribute
> would be name tokens identifying the information requested. I suggest
> the following as a start:
> firstName, lastName, nickName (or userName?), mailto (or email, or
> mailURL?), http (or homePage, or webURL, or httpURL?), title,
> organization, address1, address2, city, state, postalCode, country,
> phone (or maybe dayPhone and evePhone), fax.
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.)

> This could obviously get out of hand, but I think we could reach
> consenus on reasonably small set. (I arrived at this list by looking
> at dozens of different forms. I discarded other ideas such as
> password, department, mail signature, public key, credit card info,
> favorite quote, etc.)
As I said -- I disagree with that. Let the user and user agent decide.

> The user can provide the information (only if they are willing) to
> the user agent, presumably in the preferences section. 

I wanted to go further and have some sort of audit trail per form.
I wouldn't fill in HIDDEN fields - and expected to be aware of who
got what information from me. I started getting paranoid -- but then
I was playing with HotJava & security was supposedly its forte. ;)

> Therefore, the autovalue idea seems useful enough and
> easy enough to implement that it's appropriate to the HTML spec. 

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

Just my tuppence.


P.S. Feel free to look at what I wrote on this last year. If you have 
an old version of HotJava you can play with the demo.


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Received on Thursday, 15 February 1996 01:40:22 UTC

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