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RE: Group Opinion: default values in forms


From: Jukka Korpela
Date: Sep 9, 2002 11:34PM

Timothy J. Luoma wrote:

> I agree with the sentiment that we are now living in an age when user
> agents handle this "problem".

I think we also live in an age where the "solution" of using "place-holding"
characters causes real problems. How is a user (in particular, a person with
cognitive disabilities) supposed to tell the difference between a real
default value and a "place-holder"?

> However if you want to satisfy the legal requirement, it is true that
> " " is valid default text

This probably solves most of the problems that the "solution" causes, but I
would still say it's better not use any value attribute in an input field
unless there is a meaningful default value to be proposed. Unless someone
_requires_ you to comply with WCAG 1.0 at priority level 3 as interpreted by
someone who doesn't really know how "Until user agents..." should be
understood here.

But if you use value=" ", then the form handler should take into account
that any leading space in the submitted data, corresponding to that field,
might not be what the user really wanted to enter. In practice, the handler
should probably remove a leading space, if present, before further
processing. It is not always evident that form handlers _should_ do such
things. Sometimes they should be rather picky about input data format, to
avoid accepting something that the user didn't really mean.

Jukka Korpela, senior adviser
TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
http://www.tieke.fi/ My phone +358 9 4763 0397

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