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Forms - Part I - Basic Forms Tutorial
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Forms - Part I - Basic Forms Tutorial
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Synopsis:
If you've been on the Internet for a while, you've probably filled out a number of online forms. Forms are used to obtain information from your visitors right through your website. Your visitors can input their information into your form, click on a "submit" button and their information will be directed to a location you specify.
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The Article

If you've been on the Internet for a while, you've probably filled out a number of online forms. Forms are used to obtain information from your visitors right through your website. Your visitors can input their information into your form, click on a "submit" button and their information will be directed to a location you specify.

If you're running a business on the Internet, using a form to process your customer's orders is an absolute must. I'm amazed at the number of websites that are still processing their customer's orders via snail mail. If you're not automating your ordering process, you're losing a significant amount of business every day.

Most Internet users won't take the time to print out an order form, place it in an envelope and send you their order -- their time is valuable. You must make the ordering process as simple as possible. This includes setting up a form on your website to process their orders electronically.

Forms are used for all of the following:

- Order forms
- Email subscriptions
- Contest registrations
- Databases
- Autoresponders
- User identifications and passwords
- Feedback

Basic Form Tutorial

Your first step in creating a form will be to get a good form script. This script will reside on your server within your CGI-bin and will be used to process your form's information. You can find some great scripts here:
http://cgi.resourceindex.com/Programs_and_Scripts/Perl/

To insert a form on your web page, we will begin with <FORM> and end with </FORM>. All of the FORM elements will be placed between the FORM tags.

In order for a form to function, it first needs to know how to send the information to the server. There are two methods, GET and POST.

* METHOD="GET" - This method will append all of the information from a form on to the end of the URL being requested.

* METHOD="POST" - This method will transmit all of the information from a form immediately after the requested URL. This is the preferred method.

In addition to a form needing to know how to send the information, it also needs to know where to send the information to be processed. The ACTION attribute will contain the URL to the form processing script or it may contain an email address.

Example Form:

<FORM METHOD=post ACTION="/cgi-bin/example.cgi">
<INPUT type="text" size="10">
<type="Submit" VALUE="Submit">
</FORM>

Example Email Form:

<FORM ACTION="mailto:you@yourdomain.com">
Name: <INPUT name="Name" value="" size="10">
Email: <INPUT name="Email" value="" size="10">
<INPUT type="submit" value="Submit">
</FORM>

The email form will simply process the information that is placed within your form and send it to your email address. A CGI script is not required.

Notice when the ACTION attribute references an email address, you don't have to include the METHOD attribute.

Form Element Attributes:

Method - Determines which http method will be used to send the form's information to the web server. Action - The URL of the form processing script that resides on the server. This script will process the form's information.
Enctype - Determines the method used to encode the form's information. This attribute may be left blank (default) unless you're using a file upload field.
Target - Specifies the target frame or window for the response page.

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