Lessons by Jon
Very Simple Form Explanation
The easiest thing to do with HTML documents is display your text files.
In fact, if you're really lazy you could just put <PRE> at the start of every
text file and </PRE> at the end and they would be somewhat valid HTML pages.
In truth, there are times when this is the right way to do things, such as
an archive of messages (although you really should add a header and BODY tags
as well, just to be a good citizen).
The problem with that, though, is that there is no interaction for the user.
Even adding hypertext links does little to enhance the interactive nature
of your documents and most other tags (headers, lists, styles, etc.) do
nothing at all to this end. And as for maps, let's face the facts - maps
are just big complex links. They aren't any more interactive than any
other hot text.
If you want to interact with your user, you need a way to get
information, as well as present it. This is where forms come in.
Your Basic Form Elements
Below are samples of the various elements that you can use in forms to
solicit information from your users. Note that while you can edit these
elements (type in the text fields, toggle the check boxes), I'm not
actually using this form to collect information. That's not until later.
To see how this page was written, save this document as HTML text (or
"source" on some clients).
That is everything I know about form elements. As you can see, there are some
things that haven't been implemented yet, like dials, slides, and such. But
still there is very little you can't do with the existing elements.
What You Can Use Forms For
Here are some ideas for using forms:
You can probably think of more, too. Just think how important it is that
you learn how to use this feature of HTML! And how nice I am to explain
it all to you (aw, shucks). Now you're ready to tackle the rest of it.
- User Surveys
- Online Ordering
- Database Query Front-End
- E-Mail Form (for clients that don't support "mailto:")
- Computer-Aided Testing
- Password controlled access to files
[Back to Forms Lesson][Back to CGI Lesson]
Last Edited: December 11, 1994