We need better text forms on the web

Web forms are evil. You know these things where you enter text in a text box and then click submit? Yes, I know there are better, more XMLish, ways of coding them, but my beef is with the current user model of a text form and I don’t see this changing any time soon unless the browser people start paying attention.

  • There is not builtin protection, at the browser, for a crashed server. So, you can fill out very long forms and lose all of your work because the server crashed. No, the back button may not work. Conceptually, there is not way to tell how the back button will behave with respect to web forms and it is a poor substitute for a saved copy of your work.
  • Spell checking is still not supported by default by most browser. Why?
  • Most standard text editing functions are not supported by most browsers (such as “search and replace”). Why?

Tools like gmail, using AJAX, manage to get most of these functions right, but why isn’t it supported at the browser level? At least in an optional way. For example, when you submit a form, the browser could save a copy of all text content in a local folder. Security you say? Well, the security people can handle the issues this would create, I’m sure.

We need better. We need it badly.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the Université du Québec (TELUQ).

One thought on “We need better text forms on the web”

  1. you may try scribe for saving forms if you are using firefox. if you are not, you should..

    there is spellbound for spellchecking.

    if you want something more like editor behaviour, check mozex and this thread.

    and i agree. all these should be in the browser’s core code.

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