[thelist] Fomated tet box question

Chris.Marsh at Callserve.com Chris.Marsh at Callserve.com
Wed Mar 9 08:39:54 CST 2005



> > can be today's (or any, for that matter) date. Is there any 
> particular
> > rerason that yuo want to allow the user to input free text 
> for a date?
> Accessibility? Rather than selecting three values from three 
> dropdowns the
> user only needs to add one field. Try filling the three 
> dropdown solution
> with a screenreader / speech recognition / keyboard. 

Designing with accessibility in mind, but for the majority of users is not a
bad thing. Drop down lists are not wholly inaccessible, especially when
labelled correctly. Also, the system need not be all things to all men -
display page output according to the user agent. When the subject of
accessibility comes up, many people seem to forget that the group to which
accessibility issues apply the most are the tiny minority. By all means make
sites accessible, but don't lose sight of the fact that for the most part
the vast majority of users will *not* be using a screen reader.

> Personally, I prefer
> a free field enhanced with a popup calendar - if your browser supports
> that.
> http://www.onlinetools.org/articles/unobtrusivejavascript/ex_p
> icker.html
> Confusion on the date format can be handled with a good label:
> Please select the start date (f.e. 26/04/1975).
> No extra logic on the server sounds insecure, and you'd need it in your
> example, as that form without JS allows me to send 31st of February.

Perhaps you missed the part where I wrote:

> > Validation is performed on the server, as should always be 
> done with any
> > form input.

The "extra" logic referred to is to handle the fact that 02/03/05 and
02/03/05 are totally different dates depending on whether you hail from the
US or the UK. If you have a seperate form field for each date part, then no
*extra* logic is required on the server to figure out which is which.

> Validation is partly our problem, we shouldn't share it with the user.

Surely if validation is our problem, then the average user will be less
inconvenienced with a select box date input than a text field input?
Regardless of labels or other instructions, if you allow a user free input
they *will* make errors - even the user most attentive to instructions makes
typographical errors every now and again.


Chris Marsh

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