Home > Articles > Programming > Java

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

16.3 Text Controls

HTML supports three types of text-input elements: textfields, password fields, and text areas. Each is given a name, and the value is taken from the content of the control. The name and value are sent to the server when the form is submitted, which is typically done by means of a submit button (see Section 16.4).


HTML Element:

<INPUT TYPE="TEXT" NAME="..." ...> (No End Tag)



This element creates a single-line input field where the user can enter text, as illustrated earlier in Listings 16.1, 16.2, and 16.3. For multiline fields, see TEXTAREA in the following subsection. TEXT is the default TYPE in INPUT forms, although it is recommended that TEXT be supplied explicitly. You should remember that the normal browser word wrapping applies inside FORM elements, so be careful to make sure the browser will not separate the descriptive text from the associated textfield.

Core Approach

Use explicit HTML constructs to group textfields with their descriptive text.

Some browsers submit the form when the user presses Enter when the cursor is in a textfield, but you should avoid depending on this behavior because it is not standard. For instance, Netscape submits the form when the user types a carriage return only if the current form has a single textfield, regardless of the number of forms on the page. Internet Explorer submits the form on Enter only when there is a single form on the page, regardless of the number of textfields in the form. Mosaic submits the form on Enter only when the cursor is in the last textfield on the entire page.

Core Warning

Don't rely on the browser submitting the form when the user presses Enter when in a textfield. Always include a button or image map that submits the form explicitly.

The following subsections describe the attributes that apply specifically to textfields. Attributes that apply to general HTML elements (e.g., STYLE, CLASS, ID) are not discussed. The TABINDEX attribute, which applies to all form elements, is discussed in Section 16.11 (Controlling Tab Order).


The NAME attribute identifies the textfield when the form is submitted. In standard HTML the attribute is required. Because data is always sent to the server in the form of name/value pairs, no data is sent from form controls that have no NAME.


A VALUE attribute, if supplied, specifies the initial contents of the textfield. When the form is submitted, the current contents are sent; these can reflect user input. If the textfield is empty when the form is submitted, the form data simply consists of the name and an equal sign (e.g., other-data&textfieldname=&other-data).


This attribute specifies the width of the textfield, based on the average character width of the font being used. If text beyond this size is entered, the textfield scrolls to accommodate it. This could happen if the user enters more characters than the SIZE or enters SIZE number of wide characters (e.g., capital W) if a proportional-width font is being used. Netscape automatically uses a proportional font in textfields. Internet Explorer, unfortunately, does not, and you cannot change the font by embedding the INPUT element in a FONT or CODE element.


MAXLENGTH gives the maximum number of allowable characters. This number is in contrast to the number of visible characters, which is specified via SIZE.


These attributes are used only by browsers that support JavaScript. They specify the action to take when the mouse leaves the textfield after a change has occurred, when the user selects text in the textfield, when the textfield gets the input focus, when it loses the input focus, and when individual keys are pressed.

Password Fields

HTML Element:

<INPUT TYPE="PASSWORD" NAME="..." ...> (No End Tag)



Password fields are created and used just like textfields, except that when the user enters text, the input is not echoed but instead some obscuring character, usually an asterisk, is displayed (see Figure 16–9). Obscured input is useful for collecting data such as credit card numbers or passwords that the user would not want shown to people who may be near his computer. The regular, unobscured text is transmitted as the value of the field when the form is submitted. Since GET data is appended to the URL after a question mark, you will want to use the POST method when using a password field so that a bystander cannot read the unobscured password from the URL display at the top of the browser.

Core Approach

To protect the user's privacy, always use POST when creating forms with password fields.


Attributes for password fields are used in exactly the same manner as with textfields.

Figure 16–9 A password field created by means of <INPUT TYPE="PASSWORD" ...>.

Text Areas

HTML Element:

          ROWS=xxx COLS=yyy> ...



The TEXTAREA element creates a multiline text area; see Figure 16–10. There is no VALUE attribute; instead, text between the start and end tags is used as the initial contents of the text area. The initial text between <TEXTAREA ...> and </TEXTAREA> is treated similarly to text inside the now-obsolete XMP element. That is, white space in this initial text is maintained and HTML markup between the start and end tags is taken literally, except for character entities such as &lt;, &copy;, and so forth, which are interpreted normally. Unless a custom ENCTYPE is used in the form (see Section 16.2, "The FORM Element"), characters, including those generated from character entities, are URL-encoded before being transmitted. That is, spaces become plus signs and other nonalphanumeric characters become %XX, where XX is the numeric value of the character in hex.


This attribute specifies the name that will be sent to the server.


ROWS specifies the number of visible lines of text. If more lines of text are entered, a vertical scrollbar will be added to the text area.


COLS specifies the visible width of the text area, based on the average width of characters in the font being used. If the text on a single line contains more characters than the specified width allows, the result is browser dependent. In Netscape, horizontal scrollbars are added (but see the WRAP attribute, described next, to change this behavior). In Internet Explorer, the word wraps around to the next line.


The Netscape-specific WRAP attribute specifies what to do with lines that are longer than the size specified by COLS. A value of OFF disables word wrap and is the default. The user can still enter explicit line breaks in such a case. A value of HARD causes words to wrap in the text area and the associated line breaks to be transmitted when the form is submitted. Finally, a value of SOFT causes the words to wrap in the text area but no extra line breaks to be transmitted when the form is submitted.


These attributes apply only to browsers that support JavaScript; they specify code to be executed when certain conditions arise. ONCHANGE handles the situation when the input focus leaves the text area after it has changed, ONSELECT describes what to do when text in the text area is selected by the user, ONFOCUS and ONBLUR specify what to do when the text area acquires or loses the input focus, and the remaining attributes determine what to do when individual keys are typed.

The following example creates a text area with 5 visible rows that can hold about 30 characters per row. The result is shown in Figure 16–10.

Enter some HTML:<BR>
Delete this text and replace
with some HTML to validate.

Figure 16–10 A text area.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020