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Easy Form Design

In this article, I show you how to code your own html submission forms. Maybe you are using a WYSIWYG web page design tool and you can't get your forms to work the way you want them to. Maybe you want to show a web page designer how you want your form to look, but you don't have time learn a bloated program. Maybe you hand code all your web pages in a simple text editor like I do. If any one of these describes your situation, this article is for you.

Before I get into the specifics of form design, I want to explain one very important thing. A form is static html code and therefore can't do much on its own. No matter how pretty your form looks, it needs another part, the active programming code part to do something with the information that the user enters into the form.

JavaScript is a programming language that can run on the client side (in the users browser) to do something with the form information. JavaScript is great for performing client side validation of the form information. But the only way client side JavaScript can get the information out of the form is to send it to the users email program.

To get the information out of the form and onto the server you need a language that can send the information to the servers Common Gateway Interface (CGI) or to the Web servers Application Program Interface (API). CGI programming is usually done with Perl script. API programming is usually done with ASP (Active Server Pages).

Before putting time into designing your form, first decide what you want to do with the information submitted by the form. If you only want to send the information to an email box, then it's very possible that you can write your own program to work with the form. At the end of this article, I will give you some tips to get you started with your program.

If you want to write the information to a file or a database, that will require some serious programming that is beyond the scope of this article. However, there is nothing wrong with designing a form the way you want it, and then handing it over to a programmer for active programming code part.

The Text Element

When you design a form, the html code for the entire form is placed between the <form> and </form> tags. Inside those tags, you might place a form "element"; for example, a text box. A text box would be coded with the html <input type="text">. Shown below is the html code for this simplest form.

Name: <input type="text">

Below is shown the result of how this code would appear on a web page.


The form tag usually contains two attributes. The action attribute specifies the name of the file containing the active programming code. The method attribute specifies how the information should be sent. The method can be either the "post" or "get" method. A form usually contains a Submit button element. When the user clicks on the Submit button, the action element is executed. Below is more complete form example.

<form method="get" action="program.asp">
Name: <input type="text">
<input type="Submit">

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