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This module provides a series of articles that will help you master HTML forms. HTML forms are a very powerful tool for interacting with users; however, for historical and technical reasons, it's not always obvious how to use them to their full potential. In this guide, we'll cover all aspects of HTML forms, from structure to styling, from data handling to custom widgets.
Before starting this module, you should at least work through our Introduction to HTML.
Note: If you are working on a computer/tablet/other device where you don't have the ability to create your own files, you could try out (most of) the code examples in an online coding program such as JSBin or Thimble.
The following guides teach you all the basics of HTML forms, getting up to some slightly more advanced topics later on.
- Your first HTML form
- The first article in our series provides your very first experience of creating an HTML form, including designing a simple form, implementing it using the right HTML elements, adding some very simple styling via CSS, and how data is sent to a server.
- How to structure an HTML form
- With the basics out of the way, we now look in more detail at the elements used to provide structure and meaning to the different parts of a form.
- The native form widgets
- We now look at the functionality of the different form widgets in detail, looking at what options are available to collect different types of data.
- Sending form data
- This article looks at what happens when a user submits a form — where does the data go, and how do we handle it when it gets there? We also look at some of the security concerns associated with sending form data.
- Form data validation
- Sending data is not enough — we also need to make sure that the data users fill out in forms is in the correct format we need to process it successfully, and that it won't break our applications. We also want to help our users to fill out our forms correctly and don't get frustrated when trying to use our apps. Form validation helps us achieve these goals — this article tells you what you need to know.
These guides look at some more advanced form techniques, which you'll find useful to learn when you've mastered the basics.
- How to build custom form widgets
- You'll come across some cases where the native form widgets just don't provide what you need, e.g. because of styling or functionality. In such cases, you may need to build your own form widget out of raw HTML. This article explains how you'd do this and the considerations you need to be aware of when doing so, with a practical case study.
- HTML forms in legacy browsers
- Article covering feature detection, etc. This should be redirected to the cross browser testing module, as the same stuff is covered better there.
- HTML5 form updates
- This article provides a reference to the new additions we saw added to HTML forms by the HTML5 spec.
Form styling guides
These guides to styling forms with CSS really belong in the CSS Learning Area topic, but we are keeping them here for now until we find the time to move them.
- Styling HTML forms
- This article provides an introduction to styling forms with CSS, including all the basics you might need to know for basic styling tasks.
- Advanced styling for HTML forms
- Here we look at some more advanced form styling techniques that need to be used when trying to deal with some of the more difficult-to-style elements.
- Property compatibility table for form widgets
- This last article provides a handy reference allowing you to look up what CSS properties are compatible with what form elements.