Lesson 4

Mastering Form Validation with HTML and JavaScript

Overview

Welcome to today's session, where we will focus on form validation, a critically vital aspect of web development. Consider web forms as doorways that allow users to interact with web applications—whether registering for accounts or submitting requests. However, if we were to permit any input in these forms, chaos could ensue. Hence, we mitigate this issue by employing form validation. In this session, we'll master HTML attributes such as required, type, minlength, maxlength, min/max, understand regular expressions (regex), study the pattern attribute, and learn how JavaScript validates forms.

Getting to Know HTML Form Attributes

HTML form input attributes give us the power to validate user input right in the browser, serving as our first line of defense in form validation. Let's dissect these attributes:

  • required: This attribute ensures the user supplies input in a necessary field.
  • type: Specifies the kind of data the user must input (e.g., text, email, number, etc.).
  • minlength and maxlength: These constraints limit the length of user input.
  • min and max: These set the range for numerical input.
  • title: Displays advisory information about the element it belongs to, providing a hint to the user about how to fill out the input or what kind of data is expected.

As an illustration, consider the following password input field, which enforces a password length minimum of 8 characters and a maximum of 20 characters while providing a tooltip when the user hovers over the input field. Note that with the required attribute, the password field cannot be empty:

JavaScript
1<input type="password" name="password" required minlength="8" maxlength="20" title="Your password should be 8-20 characters long.">

Here is a different number input field, where the min and max attributes specify that the permissible range for this input is between 1 and 10, inclusively:

JavaScript
1<input type="number" name="quantity" min="1" max="10" title="Enter a number between 1 and 10">
Basic Introduction to Regular Expressions (`regex`) And The `pattern` Attribute

Regular expressions, or regex, are sequences of characters that form a search pattern used for text searching and text replacing operations. In HTML forms, regex patterns allow us to match and validate various input strings (such as phone numbers, zip codes) using the pattern attribute. This is best explained by the following example:

HTML, XML
1<form action=""> 2 Phone number (xxx-xxxx): <input type="text" name="phone" pattern="[0-9]{3}-[0-9]{4}"> <!-- pattern="[0-9]{3}-[0-9]{4}" is regex that requires the form input to be "three numbers, a dash, and then four numbers". --> 3 <input type="submit"> 4</form>

This phone number form input requires "three numbers, a dash, and then four numbers" to submit the form.

An Overview of JavaScript Form Validation

While HTML form attributes are great for basic validation, JavaScript allows us to perform more complex conditions. It provides instant feedback to users, enhancing their experience and ensuring correct data submission. After accessing form data with JavaScript, we're able to validate it. It may be checking if text fields are empty, ensuring the length of a text input, or checking if a number is within a specific range. Let's dive into an example:

HTML, XML
1<html> 2<body> 3 4<h2>JavaScript Form Validation</h2> 5 6<form id="myForm"> 7 Username: <input type="text" name="username"> 8 <input type="submit"> 9</form> 10 11<script> 12document.getElementById("myForm").addEventListener("submit", function(event){ 13 let val = document.forms["myForm"]["username"].value; 14 if (val.length < 3 || val.length > 15) { 15 alert("Username must be 3-15 characters long"); 16 event.preventDefault(); 17 } 18}); 19</script> 20 21</body> 22</html>

This form demands a username length between 3 and 15 characters. If it falls outside this range, an alert message pops up to inform the user. But what if the user bypasses this message? This is where event.preventDefault() comes into play.

event.preventDefault() is a method that stops the default action of an element from happening. For a form, the default action is to send the form data and then reload the page. In our form, if the username is not between 3 and 15 characters, we don't want to submit the form. event.preventDefault() stops the form from submitting, ensuring forms don't get submitted with incorrect or incomplete data.

So, using JavaScript for form validation enhances the user experience and ensures the correct data submission.

Wrapping Up

Today, we explored form validation by focusing on HTML attributes, regular expressions, the pattern attribute, and JavaScript form validation. You should now be able to confidently apply these techniques to your projects, thus facilitating robust form validation.

Next, we will reinforce these skills with hands-on exercises. Remember, the key to mastery lies in practice. So, let's gear up and dive in!

Enjoy this lesson? Now it's time to practice with Cosmo!

Practice is how you turn knowledge into actual skills.