Getting To Grips With FormsS2C Home « Getting To Grips With Forms

Until now we haven't seen how a user can enter information onto the web page. To allow user input we create a form using the <form> tag and its action attribute. There are several other tags and attributes available for use with the <form> tag, several of which are reviewed here.

In this lesson we look at basic form creation and how to use the <button>, <form>, <input>, <label> and <textarea> tags.

The Button Element

The <button> tag and its' closing </button> tag are used to define a button that is clickable by the user within a HTML form or on its own.

The Interactive Form Element

The <form> tag and its' closing <form> tag are used to define a form whose input information is sent to the URL specified in the required action attribute.

The Form Input Control Element

The <input> tag is a self closing tag that is used along with its type attribute to define an area of a form for user input.

The type attribute of the <input> element can be: button, checkbox, color, date, datetime-local, email, file, hidden, image, month, number, password, radio, range, reset, search, submit, tel, text (default), time, url or week.

The Label Element

The <label> tag and its' closing <label> tag are used to define a label for an <input>, <select> or <textarea> element of a <form>.

The Multi-line Text Field Element

The <textarea> tag and its' closing <textarea> tag are used to define a multiple line area for text input.

Creating A Webpage

I think that's enough tags to give us a feel for forms and their capabilities, lets create a webpage for our form tags to see what they do!

  1. HTML Editor

    1. Open up your HTML editor or text editor, which in my case is Notepad++.
    2. Open a document if required.
    3. Copy and paste the following code into the document.
    
    <!DOCTYPE html>
    <!-- Using the button, form, input, label, output and textarea HTML tags -->
    <html lang="en">
      <head>
        <title>
          Getting To Grips With Forms
        </title>
      </head>
      <body>
        <h2>Basic Forms</h2>
        <p>Please fill in our Pie Survey:</p>
        <form action="http://htmldoctor.info/htmlintermediate/simpleform.html"  method="get">
          <p>Name:<input type="text" name="name" /></p>
          <p>Which pie do you prefer?:</p>
          <p><input type="radio" name="pie" checked="checked" value="Chicken" id="chicken" />
             <label for="chicken">Chicken</label></p>
          <p><input type="radio" name="pie" value="Fish" id="fish" />
             <label for="fish">Fish</label></p>
          <p><input type="radio" name="pie" value="Shepherds" id="shepherds" />
             <label for="shepherds">Shepherds</label></p>
          <p>Other stuff you wanna tell us about pies:</p>
          <p><textarea rows="3" cols="30" name="comments"></textarea></p>
          <p>Submit your information:</p>
          <p><input type="submit" value="Submit" /></p>
          <p>Pie Message:</p>
          <button type="button" onclick="alert('You like pies!')">Click If You Like Pies</button>
        </form>
      </body>
    </html>
    
  2. Saving the document

    Save the file as forms.html

    save forms tags
    Screenshot 1. Saving the forms.html HTML file.
  3. View Page in Web Browser

    Either navigate to the location you saved the forms.html file to and double click the file. This will take you to the page in your default web browser, or from your web browser click File --> Open File and navigate to the file and open it.

    After doing either of these you should see a similar webpage in your browser to the following screenshot:

    view forms tags
    Screenshot 2. Viewing the forms.html HTML file.

    As you can see from the screenshot we have created a basic form from our HTML, so lets go through our form creation by reviewing the tags used.

    Reviewing Our Changes

    The Form

    The <form></form> element encloses the other tags we wish to use in our forms and we used this tag with its' action and method attributes. The action attribute tells the browser which URL to invoke when the user submits the form. The method attribute tells the browser how to submit the form data.

    Text Input

    We have used the <input> tag along with its type attribute to allow the user to enter their name. We did this by setting the value of the type attribute to text. The name attribute was used to pass the value of the text entered to the server.

    Radio Button Input

    We also used the <input> tag along with its type attribute to allow the user to select a radio button. We did this by setting the value of the type attribute to radio. The checked attribute was used to set an initial value for the radio buttons. The name attribute was used to pass the value attribute of the radio button selected to the server.

    Label Input

    We used the <label> tag to give each radio button a name. We also used the for attribute to allow the user to select a radio button by using the mouse to click on the text. The for attribute of the <label> tag must match the id attribute of the <input> tag to bind the two together and allow this usability with the mouse.

    Textarea Input

    We used the <textarea> tag along with its rows and cols attributes to set up a text area to allow the user to enter some comments. The name attribute was used to pass the value of the text entered to the server.

    Submit Input

    We have used the <input> tag along with its submit attribute to allow the user to submit information they have entered on the form.

    Button Input

    We also used the <button> tag to display a message when clicked.

  4. Entering Data

    Use the mouse to click in the name and comments fields and enter some input and maybe click a different radio button. Following is an example:

    view forms tags two
    Screenshot 3. Entering information into the forms.html HTML file.
  5. Submit the data

    Use the mouse to click the submit button and a screen similar to the following will appear:

    view forms tags three
    Screenshot 4. Viewing the simpleforms.html HTML file. returned after pressing the submit button.

    Reviewing Our Changes

    As you can see the information we entered has been passed across in the url via a chain of key/value pairs sent via the get method.

    These have been appended to the URL address starting from the ? symbol and are delimited with the & symbol.

    The following code was used to do this:

    view forms tags three
    Screenshot 5. Code to pass and render user input information.

    How the above code works is beyond the scope of this tutorial but if your interested in how this can be achieved and for an explanation of HTTP methods I suggest taking a look at my Servlets & JSP Tutor site and in particular the lesson on What is HTTP?.

    How we extract the information passed in the URL by the GET command is discussed on my Learn JavaScript & jQuery site.

Lesson 10 Complete

Modify the HTML to create your own forms until you're confident with basic form creation.

Related Tutorials/Quizzes

HTML5 Advanced Tutorials - Lesson 10 - Advanced Forms

Getting to Grips With Forms Quiz

What's Next?

We start the HTML5 Advanced lessons with a look at the HTML scripting tags available in HTML.

HTML5 Reference

The <button> button tag

The <form> interactive form tag

The <input> form input control tag

The <label> label tag

The <textarea> multi-line text field tag