Using Email to Collect Form Data

It is increasingly common to find authors who have no access to a web server other than to upload their documents. Consequently, they have no ability to create or manage CGI programs. In fact, some Internet service providers (ISPs), particularly those hosting space for hundreds or even thousands of sites, typically disable CGI services to limit their servers’ processing load or as a security precaution.

If you are working with one of the many sites where you cannot get a form processed to save your life, all is not lost: you can use a mailto URL as the value of the form’s action attribute. The latest browsers automatically email the various form parameters and values to the address supplied in the URL. The recipient of the mail can then process the form and take action accordingly.

By substituting the following for the <form> tag in our previous example:

<form method=POST action="mailto:chuckandbill@oreilly.com"
    enctype="text/plain"
    onSubmit="window.alert('This form is being sent by email, even
    though it may not appear that anything has happened...')">

the form data gets emailed to chuckandbill when submitted by the user, not otherwise processed by a server. Notice, too, that we have a simple JavaScript alert message that appears when the browser gets ready to send out the form data. The alert tells the user not to expect confirmation that the form data was sent (see Figure 9-2).

Also, unless disabled by the user or if you omit the method=POST attribute, ...

Get HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide, 5th Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.