Form Basics

A form begins and ends with the HTML <form> tag. The opening tag (<form>) indicates the beginning of a form and sets its properties; the closing tag (</form>), of course, marks the form’s end.

You add different objects between these tags to deck out your pages with the form elements your visitors interact with—radio buttons, text fields, and pull-down menus are just a few you can choose from to gather input. It’s perfectly OK to include other HTML elements inside a form, too. In fact, your visitors would be lost if you didn’t add (and format) text that explains each element’s purpose. And if you don’t use a table or Cascading Style Sheets to lay out your form in an organized way, it can quickly become an unreadable mess (see the box on Giving Order to Your Forms).

A form can be as simple as a single empty text box (called a field) and a button, or as complex as a 100-question survey composed of fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice questions.

Figure 12-1. A form can be as simple as a single empty text box (called a field) and a button, or as complex as a 100-question survey composed of fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice questions.

Every form element, whether it’s a text field or a checkbox, has a name and a value. You supply the name, which should reflect the information you’re trying to collect. For example, if you want a visitor to type his email address into a text field, you might name that field email. The value, on the other hand, is what your visitor types in—the text he enters into a text field, for example, or the selections he makes from ...

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