Re: solidifying a really neat forms hack

Bert Bos (
Wed, 24 Nov 1993 12:35:28 +0100 (MET)

Marc Andreessen writes:

|Due to a cute little trap door we put into the Mosaic for X 2.0 forms
|support, forms that consist of only a single text entry field with
|NAME="isindex" result in query strings that look like:
| action?query
|...and NOT:
| action?isindex=query

Yes, a very useful feature for various reasons...

|The reason we did this is because it was the cleanest way to handle
|ISINDEX via inlined forms -- when the HTML parser sees an ISINDEX tag,

but I don't think that an ISINDEX element should be equated with a
FORM. They serve different purposes: the layout and placement of
ISINDEX is under the control of the browser (a French browser displays
a French prompt, etc.) and it is *global*, i.e., it is available no
matter how far you scrolled through the document. A FORM, on the other
hand, is tied to a specific location in the text, with suitable
prompts provided by the document's author.

|So then, Tony Sanders (originator of the incredibly useful ISMAP
|attribute to IMG -- how is it he comes up with these things before
|everyone else??? :-) realized that this means that *normal* forms in
|arbitrary documents that contain, you guessed it, only a single text
|entry field with NAME="form", provide transparent access to normal
you mean "isindex" ?

|ISINDEX servers (WAIS servers, Gopher search engines, etc.).
|Some of you have already seen the a sample of the implications of this
|paradigm shift (God, I love that term); e.g.,

Rather a "paradigm collapse", I think.

|I propose that this technique be institutionalized by a one-time-only
|special case in the forms spec that will insure that all forms-enabled
|browsers can provide this capability. It's really quite powerful, and

I agree, but it can be independent of the implementation of ISINDEX.
E.g., specify that the "=" is omitted when the INPUT NAME attribute is
empty or omitted:

<INPUT name="foo"> ----> some-url?foo=bar
<INPUT name=""> ----> some-url?bar
<INPUT> ----> some-url?bar


                    / _   Bert Bos <>  |
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