Some HTML for Developing Web Forms


Introduction.  We've been using basic HTML to develop ASPs, but now we will need to develop some HTML expertise for form development.  Remember, as stated previously, the basis of these web based user interactions will be done through HTML using the <FORM> </FORM> tag pair.

In general the <FORM> tag makes use of the following syntax

<FORM   METHOD=______   ACTION="somePage.asp">

where the METHOD can be set to either GET or POST.  We will focus on <FORM> tags where

<FORM   METHOD=POST   ACTION="somePage.asp">

since this has several advantages for what we'll be developing.  "somePage.asp" is the name of the form processing script page that we defined in the last course page.

If we were to use GET as the METHOD, we would be relying on working with QueryStrings.  While certainly not insurmountable, they have their disadvantages such as they cannot become longer than 255 characters, for every value you want to get from the user the computer needs to append the variable name and inputted value to the QueryString, and the QueryString shows up in the URL for the form processing script.  Rather than try to talk about all of these issues in detail, we will just focus on using POST as the METHOD.

The Basic <FORM> Input Controls.  In HTML there are five main types of input controls.  Notice the terminology is very similar to Visual Basic terminology.  While we will definitely present a more involved discussion and develop a variety of examples, the controls are summarized in the following table.


Control Type



Text box


Use when you want the user to enter a string of characters or a number.
List box <SELECT  NAME=____ >
             <OPTION  VALUE="      ">
             <OPTION  VALUE="      ">
             <OPTION  VALUE="      ">
Use when you want to restrict the user to selecting an item in a set of acceptable answers.  Each option in the List box is determined by the <OPTION> tag.  You can also influence how many elements appear on the form before the user selects the control.  Even though there may be ten items in the list, it can appear either as a combo box or a list box with all ten items showing.
Check box <INPUT  TYPE=CHECKBOX  NAME=____   > Use anytime you have one or more binary options that can be mixed and matched.  If they are in a related group presume that more than one can still be checked.  You can set up a default value with a CHECKED entry at the end in the tag..
Radio buttons <INPUT  TYPE=RADIO  NAME=____  VALUE=____ > Use when you have a set of options that are mutually exclusive.  That is, only none or one of the options can be selected.  All radio buttons with the same NAME are in the grouping.  The VALUE is used to identify each button in the group.
Submit button <INPUT TYPE=SUBMIT> This puts a command button on the form that the user should press to submit the form for processing.  This will send the information gathered from the user to somePage.asp.


A Relatively Contrived Example.   Before moving on to our Login.asp we will now develop a simple form ASP that makes use of all of the above controls so that you can see these features implemented.  We still need to cover the Request class/object in order to implement our Login.asp.

Let's assume you have set up a server to provide web space.  To keep it as simple as reasonable lets assume that when someone submits information you want to get the following

  • domain name
  • country of residence
  • whether you want to be included on certain contact lists
  • what credit card they will be using to pay for the space

What this will require is summarized in the following list.

  1. The domain name will require a text box. 
  2. For simplicity without hurting the example, we will assume the country of residence is either the United States, Canada or Mexico.  Thus this will require a list box. 
  3. The marketing department has their magic list so they want to know whether you want to get future spam, be put on the mailing list and have your phone number sold to telemarketers.  You know, all the usual things marketing departments want! 
  4. Finally, your site accepts only MasterCard, Visa or Discover for payment.   This implies the use of radio buttons since people will expect to pay only once.

First you need to create a file called YouDidIt.asp containing the following HTML code.  You should save it to an appropriate location.

You did it!!!

So you should create the CaveatEmptor.asp text file with the following code and save it in the same directory as the YouDidIt.asp.  Make sure that there is no unwanted word wrap on any of the lines.

<P>We need you to fill out this basic <BR>form before we can process your web.

<P>What is your desired domain name?

<P>What country do you reside in?<BR>

<OPTION VALUE="Canada">Canada
<OPTION VALUE="Mexico">Mexico
<OPTION VALUE="United States">United States


<P>Please check everything that you want to receive from us.<BR>
<INPUT TYPE=CHECKBOX NAME=Spam CHECKED>Do you want our spam?
<INPUT TYPE=CHECKBOX NAME=MailList CHECKED>Do you want to be on our mailing list?
<INPUT TYPE=CHECKBOX NAME=CallMe CHECKED>Do you want us to sell your phone number to telemarketers?

<P>Please select the credit card you will be using to pay your monthly fee.<BR>
<INPUT TYPE=RADIO NAME=CardType VALUE=MasterCard>MasterCard
<INPUT TYPE=RADIO NAME=CardType VALUE=Discover>Discover

We will discuss the code in class.

Now you should upload both the files to your root web.  Then you should implement the CaveatEmptor.asp by entering its URL.  You should get something like the following image after you've inputted values.



Fill in the form as desired and then submit it.  You should then get the following form processing script page on your browser, though you didn't really do any processing of the inputs.



Now you can see at least the initial aspects of developing a form.  If you want you should play with the HTML to modify the form to do some other things.

The next web page will focus on how to work with the inputs the user entered.